Vincent and Theo: the Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

Vincent and Theo, Theo and Vincent. More than friends, more than brothers, these steadfast siblings kept each other alive through their devotion to art and to each other. Theo was the prosperous younger brother, becoming a profitable art dealer at a young age due to his savvy business sense and sharp eye. Vincent was the tempestuous older brother, moody and unpredictable, discarding a number of odd jobs before settling on painting as a profession. Then as now, pursuing a career in the arts wasn’t the most lucrative pursuit, but Vincent was able to perfect his signature impasto technique because of his brother’s steady financial support. Theo longed for romantic love, while Vincent craved commercial success so he could repay Theo, but neither brother ever put anything before their relationship with each other. While most people have heard of famous painter Vincent Van Gogh, few understand how completely vital Theo’s support was to Vincent’s success. In this intimate biography, rich with direct quotes from the brothers’ letters, author Deb Heiligman chronicles the ups and downs of the siblings as they navigated success, failure, loss of friends and family, love and marriage. My favorite passage concerns a parcel that Vincent was determined to carry himself. How Heiligman uses that story as a metaphor and weaves it through the entire biography as way of illustrating the brothers’ relationship is beautifully and subtly done, and provides readers with an insight as to which brother was emotionally carrying the other at different points in their lives. Coming to a library, bookstore or e-reader near you April 2017.

2 thoughts on “Vincent and Theo: the Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

  1. This book blew me away. I was so taken with the design and also Deb’s writing. I also appreciated the blend of familiar information for readers who might already know about Vincent and Theo as well as new information (like their pledge at the windmill). The ending was devastating, particularly knowing how things end for Vincent and Theo, but it was so worth it. I could talk about this book for days. My favorite part may have been the moment Vincent fully commits himself to art even knowing he has a late start. It was heartening when I feel like I’m a bit “behind” on some of my own goals and dreams.

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