ADVERTISING
 
Friday, January 19   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Evangelical Focus is three years old
When was the first time you visited Evangelical Focus?





SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Jeff Fountain
 

The paradox of Vincent van Gogh

His own writings to Theo and his paintings of his latter phase bear witness to his preoccupation to the end with the person of Christ.

WINDOW ON EUROPE AUTHOR Jeff Fountain 19 OCTOBER 2017 12:20 h GMT+1

Across the road from the YWAM centre De Poort on the Amsterdam harbourfront, and next door to the shipping museum, is the long red-brick former admiralty building.



A large bronze plaque can be seen on the building from the windows of De Poort, where we held the Masterclass in European Studies earlier this month.



Closer inspection shows it to commemorate, not the brave career of some heroic naval officer, but the sojourn in that building of a young, zealous theology student named Vincent van Gogh.



Lodging there from May 1877 to July 1878, with his uncle, Rear Admiral Johannes van Gogh, Vincent tried unsuccessfully to prepare for theological study, tutored by another uncle, a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church.



Sundays for Vincent involved a self-imposed routine of fanatical church attendance: an early morning service in the Oosterkerk nearby, followed by another in the Oudezijds Kapel (to this day an evangelical ministry in the red light district).



Walking further to the next sermon in the Westerkerk, he concluded his circuit in the Norderkerk. The bronze plaque cites his own words to his brother Theo about the ‘many church porches and floors’ he had seen in the city.



Failure at his studies led to departure to a poor mining district in Belgium as a lay preacher. With the same fanaticism, he involved himself in the lives of the poor, gave away all his belongings and even went down into the mines. But his efforts were rejected by both the locals and the mission for whom he was working.



 



Rejection

His sketches of the bleak, poverty-stricken Borinage however prompted Theo to advise him to become an artist. But this new search for his calling was also fraught with disappointment, rejection and failure. He wrote to Theo that he would ‘never amount to anything important’.



Further failure (including an ill-fated attempt to help a prostitute and her child) forced him to move back in with his parents in Nuenen, near Eindhoven, in the south of the Netherlands. There he produced over 500 works in earthy colours or pencil, mostly of peasant scenes.



Then France beckoned, firstly to Paris where he discovered colour and developed his typical, short brush stroke style, and later to Arles in the south where he had hoped to set up a brotherhood of artists.



There his tempestuous relationship with Paul Gauguin led to a year in an asylum and the production of another 150 works. The final year of his life, 1889-90, Vincent moved to Auvers-sur-Oise to be closer to his brother. His frantic artistic activity continued, yielding a painting a day.



One day in July 1890, he staggered back from a cornfield with a fatal gunwound. He died two days later.



Until recently, it was assumed he had shot himself. But questions about the angle of the shot and other circumstances have now led to theories that local youths were responsible.



The tragically-short life of Vincent van Gogh was one of paradox upon paradox. During his prolific decade of artistic production before he died, he struggled to sell his paintings. Yet today his works sell for hundreds of millions of euros.



 



Evidence

His association with Amsterdam was never as a painter. Yet today one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions is the Van Gogh Museum, where fans line up every day outside, eager to see the collection of over 200 of his originals.



Critics traditionally have assumed van Gogh’s disappointments with the church led him to break with institutional Christianity and to seek the divine in nature. Yet his own writings to Theo and his paintings of his latter phase bear witness to his preoccupation to the end with the person of Christ: “… a greater artist than all other artists, despising marble and clay as well as colour, working in living flesh,” he wrote. “This matchless artist … made living men, immortals.”



Two books which had a lifelong impact on van Gogh were The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis, and Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan. About his 1890 painting of an old man sitting by a fireplace, called At Eternity’s Gate, he wrote: “One of the strongest pieces of evidence for the existence… of a God and an eternity, is the unutterably moving quality that there can be in the expression of an old man… that can’t be meant for the worms.…”



Most recently, my eight-year-old granddaughter–a committed Vincent fan–made me aware of new research declaring Café Terrace at night (1888) to depict the Last Supper, complete with a shadowy Judas slipping out the door, a central Jesus-figure with a cross behind him, and the remaining disciples seated at the tables.



The whole scene is bathed in a golden-yellow hue, van Gogh’s typical allusion to the divine.



Writing to Theo about this work, Vincent said he felt a “tremendous need for, shall I say the word—religion.”



Jeff Fountain is Director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies, and speaks on issues facing Christians today in Europe. He writes at Weekly Word.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - The paradox of Vincent van Gogh
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

 
Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

 
The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

 
Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest

About 70 people from European countries met at the Younger Leaders Gen gathering in Hungary (19-22 October) to discuss the challenges of the church in the continent and build partnerships. Photos: Evi Rodemann and Jari Sippola.

 
I am not on sale I am not on sale

Young Christians gathered at Madrid’s central square Sol to denounce human trafficking. A flashmob highlighted the work of three evangelical NGOs which support women who escape sexual slavery in Spain.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

 
He is... He is...

A video about Colossians 1:15-20.

 
Creation Care and the Gospel, in France Creation Care and the Gospel, in France

The conference drew about 90 delegates from across Europe. Scientists, theologians, activists reflected together on the theme “God’s Word and God’s World”.

 
“It is inconsistent to say we love the Creator while we destroy His creation” “It is inconsistent to say we love the Creator while we destroy His creation”

In creation care, “we need more people who lead by example”, says well-known Brazilian politician and activist Marina Silva. 

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.