Vincent Willem was the only child of Theo van Gogh and Jo Bonger. He was born in Paris on 31 January 1890 and named after his artist uncle.
He studied mechanical engineering at Delft University and worked as an engineer in France, the United States and Japan, before returning to the Netherlands in early 1920. Together with Ernst Hijmans, a friend from his student days, he set up a management consultancy – the first of its kind in the country.
To avoid confusion with his uncle’s name, he was often referred to as ‘the engineer’.
Following his mother’s death in 1925, Vincent Willem assumed full responsibility for the collection of Van Gogh’s drawings, paintings and letters, and for the works of contemporaries that his uncle and father had collected.
It was important to him that the collection would remain intact and accessible after his death. That is why he established the Vincent van Gogh foundation and concluded an agreement with the State of the Netherlands. The State agreed to build the Van Gogh Museum and the municipality of Amsterdam made a piece of land on the Museumplein available. This way it was ensured that the collection is alwyas accessible to anyone.
The Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh opened its doors to the public on 3 June 1973. Vincent Willem could be found at the museum most days until shortly before his death, and he devoted himself to everything related to Vincent, Theo and the museum.
The biography focuses on the different areas in which Vincent Willem was active. Key themes include his background and motivation, his ideas about management consultancy, his activities in relation to the art collection, and the foundation and early years of the Van Gogh Museum.
The study draws on sources such as diaries, memoranda, annual reports, letters and family papers.
This PhD research contributes to our knowledge of the history of the Van Gogh Museum and the popularity of Vincent van Gogh's art.
The dissertation is being developed under the auspices of the Biography Institute of the University of Groningen and is supervised by Prof. Hans Renders and Dr. Peter de Ruiter.
Roelie Zwikker (Senior Researcher): firstname.lastname@example.org