Van Gogh 'sketchbooks' to go on sale

Sketchbooks tell us a lot about an artist, much in the same way notebooks and journals reveal something about a writer. As inquisitive creatures, humans revel in the delight of such disclosures. It doesn’t matter how mundane the revelation might be; every little bit of information is nevertheless insightful.
It humanises those who are only ever engaged with from afar, usually through their work. There’s always a separation: you, art, artist. A sketchbook therefore is context, details we’re not always privileged to see.
Some artists never want to show how or why something was done. It’s personal. All that matters for them is the end result, the final work of art that goes on show. Others however don’t mind. It’s a history of their work and it’s sometimes nice to see where an idea first came into being.
For Vincent Van Gogh aficionados, the news that his eponymous museum in Amsterdam is selling a limited number of facsimile sketchbooks of the only four known to be in existence will be met with enthusiasm.
It’s one thing to see these rare, delicate and insightful books, but, as mentioned above, there is always a disconnect, and in this instance, quite rightly so. They’re historical documents of importance that are worth preserving.
While the originals can be viewed as part of a new exhibition at the museum, which is entitled Van Gogh at work, fans of the post-impressionist painter can get closer to the artist through these imitation publications.
“The original sketchbooks provide an intimate glimpse into the painter’s life and working methods, with sketches in pencil, pen, ink and chalk, personal notes, addresses and lines of verse,” says the museum.
“They contain what are perhaps some of his most intimate creations. He also used his sketchbooks to jot down everyday matters such as prescriptions, to copy out entire poems or to sketch out a rough map to help him upon arriving in Paris.”
Some pages, the museum goes on to say, contain what it deems to be standalone miniature works of art. They really are something special.
Limited to 1000 copies, the sketchbooks will be available online and at the museum, and are expected to be much sought after. They are complemented with a slim volume of commentary by the museum’s head of collections Marije Vellekoop and Van Gogh researcher Renske Suijver.
One of the notebooks documents his time in Nuenen, two contain work and notes from his sojourns in Antwerp and Paris, while the other captures his mood during his final days in Auvers-sur-Oise.
Van Gogh at work at the Van Gogh Museum runs until January 12th 2014.
Cadogan Tate can ship works of art to your chosen destination anywhere in the world.