La Pluie, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889
In my last blog I wished that Vincent Van Gogh could have read Dickens. I hadn't thought that was possible given the limited translations of the time. And yet...when I attended the "Van Gogh Up Close" exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art this week, I learned that the artist indeed had read Dickens, even during his stay at the clinic of Saint-Paul-de-Mausolee in 1889, where he sought comfort for his troubled mind. It was at this time that he painted "Rain," which is heartbreaking in its depiction of how the fields are pelted by the downpour.
I've since learned that Van Gogh had a great respect for the works of Charles Dickens and their focus on the working class. Here he sums it up, in his own words:
There is no writer, in my opinion, who is so much a painter and a black-and-white artist as Dickens. His figures are resurrections.
--Vincent Van Gogh, letter to Anthon G. A. Ridder Van Rappard (March 1883)