Sunday, October 11, 2009

Every Van Gogh Letter Now Available Online

All 902 surviving letters to and from Vincent van Gogh are now available in a database online at Vincent van Gogh: The Letters. This incredible resource is the result of a collaboration over many years between the Van Gogh Museum and the Huygens Institute. In addition to keyword and advanced searches, one can browse by period, correspondent, place, or by those letters which include sketches. The page for each letter includes two columns, each containing the same set of information for easy comparisons: tabs with the original text transcribed; the option to view the text with numbered line endings; a facsimile with a link to detailed information about its physical description; an English translation; scholarly notes; and artworks by Van Gogh and others referred to within that letter. Clicking on the facsimile opens a viewer window where one can zoom into close detail on each folio.

The powerful advanced search feature allows you to search by some predictable parameters such as date, correspondent, and location. It also provides the opportunity to search by person, literature, work of art, and bible reference mentioned in the letters -- entering the first three letters of a search term prompts a list to appear from which you can select your search term.

The site contains a large amount of contextual information, with biographical and historical backgrounds, a chronology, concordance, bibliography, glossary, maps, and much more. Those wishing to make the most of this resource will want to spend a few minutes with the very useful Quick guide. Anyone with an interest in Van Gogh or digital libraries will be impressed and inspired by this site, which was launched in conjunction with the exhibition Van Gogh's Letters: The Artist Speaks. Kudos to the Van Gogh Museum and the Huygens Institute!

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