As suggested in the course notes I went on the internet to find excerpt from Vincent van Goghs letters. I found this website that has facsimiles and translations of letters from 1872 to shortly before his death in 1890.
This website has typed copies of the letters
Letter writing in this age of e-mail and texting is a dyeing art but back in the late 19th century it was the only way you could communicate with your nearest and dearest when you were away from them.
His letters give an insight in to how he spent his days and show that even when he wasn’t painting he looked at the world with a painters eye http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let116/letter.html
“There was one white stripe on the horizon with dark grey clouds above it, the rain pouring down from them in slanting lines in the distance, standing out against this was the long row of houses with the Oosterkerk.”
and I’m glad to see that even he had doubts about his own work http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let023/letter.html
“I’ve been drawing again recently, but it was nothing special.”
His early letters show his deep religious faith and in the London letters he didn’t have a high opinion of English art “English art didn’t appeal to me much at first, one has to get used to it.”
His last letter to his brother Theo is particularly poignant, it was found on his body – a line in the letter Theo van Gogh. Auvers-sur-Oise, Wednesday, 23 July 1890
“I’d perhaps like to write to you about many things, but first the desire has passed to such a degree, then I sense the pointlessness of it.”
perhaps it gives a sense of his mental health in the final few days of his life.
I’ve read that he had seizures which his Dr diagnosed as epilepsy and there have been many theories put forward over the years including that he was Bipolar (manic depression), had Menieres disease which causes hearing loss and vertigo or was even suffering from lead poisoning We will never know what caused his mental illness just that he was a great artist who never got the recognition in his own lifetime.