Johanna was left with Vincent’s massive art collection and decided to make sure the world knew of his artistic brilliance, which was ignored during his time on Earth.
She began selling his paintings on her own and sending them to other artists who put them in exhibits and sales. One of her most successful ventures in promoting Vincent’s paintings was when she gave over 400 of them to be shown in an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1905.
Johanna also made the decision to collect as many of the eloquent letters between Vincent and Theo as she is good and publish them, drawing people to their story and eventually making people respect Vincent as an artist more.
By the mid-1910s, Vincent’s paintings were making it into international galleries and exhibits. His work began inspiring other artists who would become famous themselves, like Henri Matisse.
Johanna continued promoting Vincent as a gifted artist, distributing his paintings, managing his and Theo’s estates, and telling their stories until her final days. Johanna fell ill with Parkinson’s disease and passed away in 1925 at 62.
Following her death, her son Vincent was left with what was left of his uncle’s painting collection and followed in his mother’s footsteps.
Johanna’s life is fascinating, as she dedicated so many years to making sure her brilliant brother-in-law had a legacy. We have her to thank for the exposure to the Van Gogh paintings we still dearly love today.
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