Were Van Gogh's Last Words, "The Sadness Will Last Forever"?

Were Van Gogh’s Last Words, “The Sadness Will Last Forever”?

Written by:

Date Post – Updated:

Vincent Van Gogh died a tragic and untimely death. When he died, his brother Theo heard of his attempted suicide, so he rushed from Paris to Auvers, France, to be near his beloved brother’s bedside.

Theo arrived in Auvers before Vincent Van Gogh died.; Theo was with Van Gogh until the very end. Theo recorded the events of the death in a letter to their sister Elizabeth; in the letter, Theo said that Vincent Van Gogh’s last words were “The Sadness Will Last Forever” (“La tristesse durera Toujours”).

Table of Contents

Vincent Van Gogh’s Last Words Were ”The Sadness Will Last Forever” (“La tristesse durera Toujours”)

When Vincent Van Gogh shot himself on July 27, 1890, his ever-loving and supporting brother Theo rushed to be near his bedside. When Theo arrived at Vincent’s deathbed, he could see that Vincent had made up his mind that it was his time to die.

Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh

In a letter a few days after Vincent Van Gogh’s untimely death, Theo wrote to their sister Elizabeth about their brother. In the letter of August 5, 1890, he wrote this about Vincent Van Gogh’s death and final words:

“He did not wish to stay alive and his mind was so calm because he had always fought for his convictions, convictions that he had measured against the best and noblest of his predecessors. His love for his father, for the gospel, for the poor and the unhappy, for the great men of literature and painting, is enough proof for that. In the last letter which he wrote me and which dates from some four days before his death, it says, “I try to do as well as certain painters whom I have greatly loved and admired.” People should realize that he was a great artist, something which often coincides with being a great human being. In the course of time this will surely be acknowledged, and many will regret his early death. He himself wanted to die, when I sat at his bedside and said that we would try to get him better and that we hoped that he would then be spared this kind of despair, he said, “La tristesse durera toujours” [The sadness will last forever]. I understood what he wanted to say with those words.
A few moments later he felt suffocated and within one minute he closed his eyes. A great rest came over him from which he did not come to life again.”

Theo Van Gogh To Sister Elizabeth Van gogh – 5 August 1890

We learn from this letter that Vincent Van Gogh’s last words were” La tristesse durera toujours,” or “The sadness will last forever.”

Theo records how a few moments after speaking,”La tristesse durera toujours,” or translated to mean “The sadness will last forever,” Vincent closed his eyes and then died.

Vincent Van Gogh’s Death

On July 27th, in a field near Auvers, France, Vincent Van Gogh took a revolver and shot himself in the chest; he did not die instantly but would continue to live another two days.

We know from letters and correspondence he wrote to his brother Theo and sister-in-law Johanna that he felt a considerable weight for the financial support they gave him to help him continue his art. We also know that he felt depressed and had good and bad days.

In one of his final letters on 10 July 1890 to Theo and Johanna Van Gogh, Vincent wrote:

Once back here I too still felt very saddened, and had continued to feel the storm that threatens you also weighing upon me. What can be done – you see I usually try to be quite good-humoured, but my life, too, is attacked at the very root, my step also is faltering. I feared – not completely – but a little nonetheless – that I was a danger to you, living at your expense – but Jo’s letter clearly proves to me that  you really feel that for my part I am working and suffering like you.

Vincent Van Gogh, Letter to Theo and Johanna Van Gogh – 10 July 1890

We learn from this letter the huge weight Vincent Van Gogh felt because of the continued financial support his brother and wife were giving him. Their son Vincent Willem Van Gogh had been born about six months earlier, on 31 January 1890.

Listen To Our Podcast About The Death Of Vincent Van Gogh by clicking here.

Vincent Van Gogh Suffered From Mental Illness

We also know that Vincent Van Gogh was mentally unstable, especially when he told them, “my life is attacked at the very root; my step also is flattering.” Vincent knew that his life and will to live were starting to flatter.

Vincent was mentally and physically exhausted from working very hard; he always set high standards for himself. He also felt uncertain about the future as he had probably felt like he failed as an artist, a brother, and a human being.

The sad part about all this was that when he felt this, Vincent finally started to get some recognition for his work. He was finally starting to see some success.

It also seems that Vincent understood that painters did not always get recognition from their peers, but other generations appreciated their work more.

In a letter to his brother Theo on the 9th or 10th of July in 1888, Vincent wrote.

“Painters — to speak only of them — being dead and buried, speak to a following generation or to several following generations through their works. Is that all, or is there more, even? In the life of the painter, death may perhaps not be the most difficult thing.”

Vincent Van Gogh Letter to Theo van Gogh – 9 or 10 July 1888

Even in 1888, Vincent seemed to understand that his artwork would maybe not speak to his generation as much to future generations; once he died, he may receive recognition.

Even today, when discussing the world’s greatest painters, Vincent Van Gogh is always up there with great painters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Michelangelo. He may never have received the recognition he deserved during his lifetime, but today his name and artwork are considered some of the most incredible artwork ever produced.

Not only for Vincent Van Gogh will the ”sadness last forever” but also for all of us who lost this great artist at such a young age and in such a tragic way. We can celebrate him, his life, and the joy his artwork and paintings continue to bring to millions.

Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh: 12 Reasons Behind His Monumental Artistic Significance

With his iconic starry nights and sunflowers, Vincent Van Gogh stands tall as one of art history’s most revered figures. While many recognize his masterpieces, few are aware of the depth and breadth of his influence.

So, why has Van Gogh’s legacy persisted with such intensity? Here are twelve compelling reasons:

  1. Unparalleled Emotional Depth: Van Gogh’s works, laden with emotion, resonate with viewers on a deeply personal level. His paintings are often seen as windows into his soul, capturing the intensity of his feelings.
  2. Innovative Techniques: Van Gogh’s impasto technique, characterized by thick, bold strokes, added texture and vibrancy to his works, making them almost tactile.
  3. Revolutionary Use of Color: Breaking away from the subdued palette of his contemporaries, Van Gogh used colors to convey emotions. His choice of bold, often contrasting hues set him apart.
  4. Evolution of Style: From his dark, somber Dutch scenes to the luminous landscapes of Arles, Van Gogh’s style evolved dramatically, reflecting his personal growth and the influence of his surroundings.
  5. Intimate Self-portraits: Through a series of self-portraits, Van Gogh charted not only his aging process but also his fluctuating mental state. These works remain among the most introspective in art history.
  6. Prolific Output: Despite a relatively short career, Van Gogh was immensely prolific. He produced over 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of which he painted in the last two years of his life.
  7. Influence on Modern Art: Van Gogh’s post-impressionistic style, marked by symbolic colors and exaggerated forms, paved the way for the modernist movements of the 20th century.
  8. Enduring Themes: Many of Van Gogh’s themes – from the beauty of the night sky to the struggles of rural laborers – are timeless, ensuring the continued relevance of his works.
  9. Personal Correspondence: His letters, especially those to his brother Theo, offer invaluable insights into his thoughts, aspirations, and struggles. They paint a portrait of the artist beyond his canvases.
  10. Posthumous Fame: While he faced obscurity and criticism in his lifetime, the posthumous surge in Van Gogh’s popularity exemplifies the often unpredictable trajectory of artistic recognition.
  11. Champion of the Underdog: Van Gogh often focused on society’s marginalized – whether it was the plight of the coal miners in “The Miners’ Wives” or the solitude of the old man in “At Eternity’s Gate”.
  12. Global Appeal: Exhibitions of Van Gogh’s works draw massive crowds worldwide. His life and art have inspired films, songs, and literature, attesting to his global and cross-cultural impact.

Vincent Van Gogh’s significance lies in his artistic genius and his ability to touch the core of human experience. Through challenges and despair, his works shine brightly, a testament to the resilience and depth of the human spirit.

Anita Louise Art is dedicated to art education, great artists, and inspiring others to find and create their art. We love art that uplifts and inspires. #ArtToMakeYouSmile! #ArtToMakeYouHappy!

If you are interested in seeing any of my art, you can find out more by clicking here. If you are interested in what inspires me and my paintings, you can discover more by clicking here.

We have a free newsletter and would love you to be part of our community; you can subscribe to the newsletter by clicking here. I would be happy to talk to you if you have any questions. You can reach me, Anita, by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Anita Louise Art YouTube Channel with great videos and information by clicking here.

Join us for our podcast 5 Minutes With Art.” Spend just 5 minutes a week with us to discover and learn about great art and artists. You can find out more about our podcast by clicking here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who was Vincent Van Gogh, and what was he known for?

Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch painter who lived in the 19th century. He is known for his post-impressionist style and his vibrant use of color.

What are some of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings?

Some of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings include “Starry Night,” “Sunflowers,” and “The Potato Eaters.”

How did Van Gogh’s mental health impact his art?

Van Gogh’s mental health had a significant impact on his art, with many of his most famous works being created during times of intense emotional turmoil.

How has Van Gogh’s work influenced art and culture over time?

Van Gogh’s work has had a profound impact on art and culture over time, with his bold use of color and emotional intensity inspiring countless artists and art movements.

What is the legacy of Vincent Van Gogh?

Vincent Van Gogh is remembered as one of the most influential artists of all time, with his work continuing to captivate and inspire audiences around the world.

What is the current value of Van Gogh’s paintings?

Van Gogh’s paintings are extremely valuable, with some selling for hundreds of millions of dollars.

What can we learn from Van Gogh’s life and work?

Van Gogh’s life and work serve as a reminder of the power of art to express deep emotion and to connect us to one another. His struggles with mental illness also serve as a reminder of the importance.

How many paintings did Van Gogh create during his lifetime?

Van Gogh is estimated to have created over 2,000 paintings during his lifetime.

How Did Vincent Van Gogh’s Paintings Become Famous?

Vincent van Gogh’s painting became famous because his sister-in-law took it upon herself after his death and the death of her husband Theo to find a way to get his paintings and name out to the world. She was brilliant and savvy in how she did this. By the time she died in 1925, Vicent van Gogh was world-renowned.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading How Did Vincent Van Gogh’s Paintings Become Famous?.

What Art Tools Did Vincent Van Gogh Use?

Vincent Van Gogh used most of the essential tools that artists of his day used, such as oil paints, turpentine, oil, canvas, brushes, palette knife, and easel. We learn from some of the letters he wrote how he used these art tools for his paintings. We also know from the letters how essential these art tools were to him.

By clicking here, you can discover more by reading What Art Tools Did Vincent Van Gogh Use?

Is Vincent Van Gogh An Abstract Artist?

Vincent Van Gogh was not considered an Abstract Artist but is regarded as a Post-Impressionism artist. He is known to have admired the Impressionist artist, but he never saw himself as part of the group of Impressionists. Instead, Van Gogh had a unique style and choice of colors for his paintings.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading Is Vincent Van Gogh An Abstract Artist?