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

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 Goghs last words were “The Sadness Will Last Forever” (“La tristesse durera Toujours”).

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.

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 6 months earlier, on 31 January 1890.

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 uncertainty 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 was dead, he may receive recognition.

Even today, when we talk about 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.

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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 renown.

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?

Anita Louise Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Louise Hummel. I am an artist and a blogger. I paint mainly oil paints. I love to paint women, animals (mainly dogs and cats), and abstracts. I use a lot of gold and silver leaf in my paintings. I also love to blog about anything to do with art, business, Procreate, and all the wonderful artists that inspire me.

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