What Did Theo Van Gogh Die Of?

Theo Van Gogh Picture

You cannot talk about Vincent van Gogh without talking about his brother Theo van Gogh. Theo was one of Vincents’ most essential supporters; he financially helped Van Gogh throughout his life and artistic career.

Theo van Gogh’s cause of death is dementia paralytica; this disease is most commonly associated with the final stages of syphilis. After Vincent died with Theo by his side, Theo’s health deteriorated, and he died just six months after Vincent van Gogh died.

A person who dies from dementia paralytica has had syphilis for a long time and does not know it. They usually die disoriented and bedridden.

Theo Van Gogh’s Death

Theo van Gogh died in 1891, just a short six months after his brother Vincent died. He was the younger brother of Vincent van Gogh and his unfailing supporter; Theo financially and emotionally supported his brother allowing Vincent to devote himself to his painting.

After the death of his beloved brother Vincent, Theo’s health also started to deteriorate. He was admitted to the Willem Arntz Hospital, a psychiatric hospital, in November 1890.

He died in January 1891, and the cause of his death was listed as “dementia paralytica.” The terms dementia paralytica were listed as “heredity, chronic disease, overwork, and sadness.”

Theo had always been very sick, but he was very sick after his brother Vincent died. I am sure that the nature of the death (self-inflicted gunshot to the chest) must have been challenging for Theo to accept or deal with.

After visiting his brother Theo, Vincent Van Gogh became very depressed about this financial future. The uncertainty of his future and finances became too much for him to bear on top of the mental issues, so Vincent took his own life.

As a loving brother who was very close to Vincent and had tried all he could to help him, it is only natural Theo would feel extremely sad at the loss of his brother. Vincent died with this brother Theo sitting by his bedside. After Vincent’s death, Theo’s health started to deteriorate rapidly.

Dementia paralytica is most commonly associated with late-stage syphilis; as syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease, we assume Theo got the infection through sexual transmission.

This disease was one that Theo would have suffered with for a long time; at the time of his death, he was very happily married to Jo Van Gogh-Bonger. In many of his letters to his brother Vincent, he talks about how happily married Jo and him are.

During Theo’s lifetime, syphilis was a widespread disease, and there was no treatment for it. A sufferer could have it for many years without knowing they even have the disease; this seems to have been the case with Theo. He was sickly but did not know he had the disease.

Syphilis will eventually attack various organs such as the heart, brain, and spinal cord. In about 7% of the cases that get syphilis, they will get dementia paralysis or paralytic dementia.

Listen To Our Podcast About The Untold Story Of Van Gogh’s Greatest Supporter below or by clicking here.

What is Dementia Paralytica That Theo Van Gogh Had?

Dementia Paralytica is also known as paralytic dementia and general paralysis of the insane (GPI). The disease symptoms will appear from 10 to 30 years after the infection.

This shows that Theo had this disease for a long time before he had any symptoms. He probably got it in this late teens and early twenties.

The first signs of the disease are fatigue, headaches, insomnia, and dizziness. Theo could have easily had all these because it was commonly known that he was not healthy and prone to illness.

As the disease progresses, mental deterioration and personality changes occur. A person can exhibit everything from loss of social inhibitions to impairment of judgment to depression, mania, and other psychological and physical ailments.

Also, the person can lose the use of some of their muscles and other bodily functions. The person who has the disease can also suffer from delusions such as ideas they have great wealth, are immortal, have thousands of lovers, and are entirely untouchable have a lot of power. They can also have seizures and other muscular problems.

Eventually, the person who gets this disease will become wholly disoriented and bedridden.

Graves of Vincent and Théodore Van Gogh
The graves of the famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) and his brother Theo [Theodore] van Gogh (1857-1891) at the churchyard in Auvers-Sur-Oise, France.

Theo was buried in Utrecht, Netherlands. But in 1914, his widow Jo asked that his body be exhumed and be moved to be buried next to his brother Vincent at Anvers-sur-Oise. It was only appropriate that these two brothers, who were so close in life, should also lie next to each other in death.

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What Was The Impact Of Vincent Van Gogh On The Art World?

Van Gogh used color, form, and emotions in his art. He had a bright palette that was individualized for his time. Even though he did not see a lot of success during his life after he died, the impact of his art can be seen in both the Expressionism and Fauvism movements that were taking place in Europe.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading What Was The Impact Of Vincent Van Gogh On The Art World?

Why Is Van Gogh Considered Such a Great Artist?

Many things make Vincent Van Gogh unique and great as an artist. He had a great way to use color in his heart, but more than that, he was an artist who set and paved the way, and his brushstroke technique used color and his design ability. What is interesting about all this he did this as a self-taught artist.

By clicking here, you can discover more by reading Why Is Van Gogh Considered Such a Great 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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What Did Theo Van Gogh Die Of?