Chris Steyn asks what role faith played in Van Gogh’s life and work. Discover the answer.
Up until he was 27 years old, the Christian faith played a major role in Vincent’s life. His father was a Protestant minister and the Van Gogh children were brought up with religion.
For a while, Vincent entertained the idea of following in his father’s footsteps, but abandoned his theology studies before even attending a lesson. He also embarked on missionary work in the Borinage, a poor mining region in Belgium.
As the years passed, Vincent became increasingly detached from the traditional Christian faith. The church and the bible no longer ruled his life, but religion still continued to play a role – also in his art.
Vincent discovered his faith outside, in nature. He wrote in a letter to Theo:
‘That doesn’t stop me having a tremendous need for, shall I say the word — for religion — so I go outside at night to paint the stars […]’.