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The Woman Who Changed History

Do you remember the blogs I referred to reading books (and loving it) and Vincent van Gogh? Well, there's more you need to know!


This gripping novel, written by a bestselling author, Caroline Cauchi, captured many facts about art history, french culture, and painting techniques. I was so blown away by the story that I decided to fact-check. And it's true!


Being a woman in the art industry during the 1800s was not for the faint of heart, and I would go as far as to say that Johanna's approach entirely revolutionized how art is viewed today.


A little recap on Johanna; She was from the Netherlands and met a man named Theo from Paris. Theo was an art dealer (like a real estate agent for artwork) and brother of the renowned painter Vincent van Gogh. Johanna and Theo got married and soon after had their first child. But little did she know her whole world would turn upside down.


Many people know Vincent as the deranged maniac who cut off his ear, and while this is (debatably) true there is one major detail left out. Theo and Vincent were two peas in a pod, inseparable. They shared an apartment in Paris where Vincent could paint to his heart's content and enjoy the typical Parisian life despite his poverty. The major turning point was when Vincent was sent away because of his instability and horrifying reputation among the locals and art community. He chose a place in the country far away from his brother and was forced to make correspondence through letters.


This is where Johanna's genius comes in...




Reading about famous artists has been a reminder that growth isn't linear, and even the masters took risks

and often failed. Painting people seemed far outside my capabilities... but I did it!



There were many critics when Vincent was alive and despite Theo's attempts to display his art in galleries, no one would accept Vincent's work. Tragically within 6 months of each other, both Vincent and Theo died. And that left the late van Gogh's wife in possession of the brothers' belongings. Johanna took an entirely different approach in the art world: Storytelling. Women like a good story, the tea, an emotional connection of sorts, so Johanna Bonger-van Gogh took to the art scene by adding what she thought was the missing piece. She compiled letters and journal entries from the brothers and paired them with each of Vincent's works of art, creating a small biography to capture the meaning of what we now know as some of the greatest works of art.


Today, adding a title and description to the finished artwork is a standard practice!


Now THAT'S a story

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