On the Verge of Insanity (Hardcover)

Van Gogh and His Illness

By Nienke Bakker, Louis van Tilborgh, Laura Prins, Teio Meedendorp (Contributions by)

Mercatorfonds, 9780300222456, 176pp.

Publication Date: September 6, 2016

List Price: 30.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Accompanying the groundbreaking exhibition currently at the Van Gogh Museum, this publication features new information on Van Gogh's self-inflicted wound to his ear as well as identifying the revolver that was likely used in his suicide

The mental state of Vincent van Gogh (1853--1890) has been a perennial source of discussion and conjecture since his death by suicide. Was he mentally ill or a genius? What was the precise nature of Van Gogh’s illness? Did it influence his work? This intriguing publication examines how Van Gogh’s mental condition revealed itself in 1888 and how he struggled with it throughout his life. Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo, his artist friends, and his sister Willemien reveal that his primary reason for living was his art.

Richly illustrated with artworks, letters, previously unpublished historical documents, and photographs, On the Verge of Insanity provides a nuanced and considered overview of an extraordinary man who had to cope with mental illness at a time when the symptoms were readily misunderstood and professional treatment was insufficient. The authors also offer a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding Van Gogh’s death in Auvers-sur-Oise, and they review the many diagnoses that have been proposed since the artist's death. 

About the Author

Louis van Tilborgh is senior researcher at the Van Gogh Museum and professor of art history, University of Amsterdam. Nienke Bakker is curator of Van Gogh Paintings, Teio Meedendorp is senior researcher, and Laura Prins is assistant researcher, all at the Van Gogh Museum.