Elif Azaz asks whether Van Gogh was afraid of anything. Read on for the answer.
Van Gogh was by no means chicken-hearted, but he often had to deal with significant worries throughout his life. His social career (as an art dealer, teacher, book dealer and lay preacher) was a complete failure and his decision to become an artist came after a deep emotional crisis. Cash flow concerns were then always on his mind, even with Theo’s monthly financial support.
In 1885, he wrote in a letter to his brother: ‘Since I am very afraid of debt I don’t let it mount up; I buy very little and for cash, and only use paint that I get ground here’. His mental illness ultimately became a source of torment and fear – it must have been terrible to lose control during such an attack, and to later be told that you ate paint. In Vincent’s words: ‘I wouldn’t be afraid of anything unless it was this bloody health’.