The Vincent Van Gogh who wasn’t
Posted on 11 May 2010, 14:46
Vincent Van Gogh was born and died on March 30th, 1852. The second Vincent Van Gogh was born exactly a year later, on March 30th, 1853. And the explanation was this: in order to remember the dead Vincent, his parents decided to name the next boy after him, thus giving the dead child continued life. And so Vincent Van Gogh followed Vincent Van Gogh.
This was probably an unwise move. There is the strong sense that his parents never quite forgave the living Vincent for not being the dead one - unreachable and forever perfect in the grave, which the young Vincent was made to visit regularly as a child. Buried there was the boy Vincent could never be. Is this what Vincet felt, I wonder?
‘I wish they would take me as I am,’ said Vincent of his parents.‘My youth was gloomy, cold and sterile. The germinating seed must not be exposed to a frosty wind - that was the case with me in the beginning.’
Perhaps it is not surprising that someone who described their childhood as cold and frosty, should come alive in the sun. When Vincent left the cold grey north, for the warmer and more colourful climes of Arles in the South of France, it was a new life in so many ways; and new energy.
The sapling caught too soon by the frost never quite recovers; but pehaps for them above all, beauty becomes a passion. They need it more than others; and will go to greater lengths.
Certainly Vincent had nothing to return to, having left in angry and unforgiving circumstances. As he recalls: ‘When someone tells me in no uncertain terms, ‘Leave my house and the sooner the better, within the half-hour rather than the hour!’ - well, old chap, then I’m out in less than a quarter of an hour, and won’t come back again either.’
And he didn’t.