The Gospel in Dickens
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April 08, 2019


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That's interesting... I had no idea he was such a reader!

When I read Van Gogh's letters, I was astounded about how well read, articulate, intelligent and sensitive he was. There are copious references to Dickens in Van Gogh's letters. Here are two examples:

Van Gogh's letter to fellow painter Anthon Van Rappard (circa 5 March 1883):

"This week I bought a new 6-penny edition of Christmas carol and Haunted man by Dickens (London Chapman and Hall) with about 7 illustrations by Barnard, for example, a junk shop among others. I find all of Dickens beautiful, but those two tales — I’ve re-read them almost every year since I was a boy, and they always seem new to me. Barnard has understood Dickens well. Lately I again saw photographs after Black and White drawings by B., a series of characters from Dickens. I saw Mrs Gamp, Little Dorrit, Sikes, Sydney Carton, and several others. They’re a few figures worked up to a very high standard, very important, treated like cartoons. In my view there’s no other writer who’s as much a painter and draughtsman as Dickens. He’s one of those whose characters are resurrections."

And in a further letter to his brother Theo, dated 9 June 1882:

"I have my perspective books here and a few volumes of Dickens, including Edwin Drood. There’s perspective in Dickens too. By Jove, what an artist. There’s no one to match him."

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