Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait with Straw Hat, 1887Oil on cardboard mounted on panel

Vincent van Gogh’s last pictures—the huge body of work that he executed in the fifteen months before his death in July of 1890 at the age of thirty-seven—are mostly about spirituality, about spirit-power moving in the universe. A spiritual mood, I suppose, is one in which people fall to pondering the common lot of lives—birth, growth, maturation, death—and the...

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