Vincent's Portraits: Paintings and Drawings by van Gogh

Thames & Hudson. Apr. 2018. 112p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780500519660. $19.95. FINE ARTS
The paintings of Vincent van Gogh conjure up images of brilliant flowers, swirling landscapes, and intimate interiors, but his major concern was with the portraits of those around him and, even more striking, his many self-portraits. Skea, an artist and author of a number of books on the man he prefers to call Vincent, follows van Gogh, as he moves from locale to locale, meticulously recording his experiences and emotions in the extensive correspondence with his brother, Theo. The early Netherlands portraits have a dark and brooding quality: the people are ground down by poverty and living in the shadows. In Paris, bright vibrant light and colors are matched with the new pointillism making its mark, particularly evident in the wonderful self-portraits. In Provence, including the extended time in the mental hospital, the artist's work developed its strongest emotional content and the portraits, many painted from memory, were done with great insight and respect for the sitters. Skea uses several quotes from the vast correspondence to create a human connection of the feelings and thoughts that lay behind the massive output.
VERDICT Written with care and affection but not on a particularly scholarly level, this title is a solid choice for upper high school students and lay readers.
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