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 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. In 1962, with the consent of the State of the Netherlands, ‘the Engineer’ transferred the Van Gogh collection to the Vincent van Gogh Foundation. In return, the State undertook to build the Van Gogh Museum and subsequently to ensure that the collection is accessible to everyone forever.
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.
The research will contribute to our knowledge of the history of the Van Gogh Museum and the popularity of Vincent van Gogh’s art.
Roelie Zwikker (Senior Researcher): email@example.com