3 His hard work and talent brought his fame:
Yes, and also no. As we saw above, he lived most of his life without much recognition from the salons of Europe in the 19th century. The posthumous recognition that he found also didn’t just fall out of thin air. That everyone and their uncle today knows Van Gogh’s name owes, to a significant degree, to the efforts of one woman: Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, wife of Theo van Gogh. It’s an unfortunate case of behind every great man is a great woman—unfortunate because they rarely get their due recognition. After Vincent’s death, followed six months later by her husband’s, Johanna had Theo’s body exhumed and reburied at Auvers-sur-Oise Town Cemetery right next to his brother. She thereafter began an eleven-year journey of collecting a catalogue of Vincent’s paintings as well as translating his correspondence with family members. Without the undertaking of this monumental task — done with a diligence and devotion possible only within the context of familial bond — we might not have the same access to Van Gogh’s genius as we do today. That said, a considerable amount of his paintings remain lost.