By Eric Plaut

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) painted some of the most recognized works of all time.  Van Gogh used his artistic talents in a variety of subjects.  His diverse collection of paintings, which are defined through Vincent’s brushstrokes, tends to speak for itself.  Supported by his younger brother Theo, who was an art dealer, Vincent spent the last decade of his life devoted to his painting.

Surprisingly, though he made over 2000 works of art, Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime.  But it wasn’t from his series of Sunflowers or from one of the two Starry Nights.  (The 1888 version of Starry Night is depicted off the Rhone River; its more famous counterpart, shown with the cypress trees, was painted the following year.  Both Starry Night portraits were shown side by side at the 2002 exhibit of Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin at the Art Institute in Chicago.)  The Red Vineyard was constructed on November 4, 1888.  It is a landscape done in oils.  Painted on a 75 by 93 cm canvas (29.5 by 36.6 inches), it depicts one of his favorite subjects, the working class.

And who was the lucky buyer of this famous painting?  It turns out it was a fellow painter Anna Boch.  (Her younger brother Eugène Boch was a painter as well.  Eugène, a close friend of Van Gogh’s, also posed for one of Vincent’s 1888 portraits.)  The Red Vineyard was displayed at the Les XX exhibit (pronounced Les Vingt, French for “The Twenty”) in early 1890, about six months before Vincent’s passing.  Anna purchased this artwork for 400 francs (between $1000 and $1050 by today’s standards).

So what is the point of this editorial?  No matter whether one is rich and famous or poor and unknown, we still need our friends and family to help us along the career path we are destined to go.  No one person is immune to this predicament.  On the road to success, we all need people to talk to, make connections and, even occasionally, be our sounding board, whether good or bad.  Somebody at one time gave us that extra oomph, to push us along when we really needed it.  It could be for obtaining a meeting for coffee.  Or maybe it’s for an informational interview with someone at a company you wish to work for.  It could even be making that LinkedIn connection go from two or three degrees away to a first-degree one!

In other words, keep paying it forward.  One can always return the favor.  However, it may not always be for the person who helped you out and/or it was not for the same courtesy one did for the other.  Make it an effort to help out someone you know.  Give him or her some help when they ask you to.  It might be what they were asking for.  It doesn’t always need to be something of a high magnitude.  Even a little bit of assistance is good, too.  Either way it does make a difference.  And a handwritten thank-you letter can go a long way as well.

In other words, don’t try to shun people who want to help you in your career or any other important aspect in your life.  It may save you time and occasionally money.  In a creative field like painting, many artists never receive the acclaim they deserve during their lifetime.  Sadly, it’s just the way of the world.

Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, Theo’s wife, realized her brother-in-law’s potential by keeping his memory alive.  Following his tragic passing in 1890, friends advised her to get rid of the 200+ paintings he left behind.  (Theo died six months after Vincent, leaving his widow and their infant son.)  Thankfully, she disregarded their suggestions of his then-undervalued works of art.

Johanna would display Vincent’s artwork and translated his letters to Theo and the family into English.  She reestablished contact with some of Vincent’s fellow artists and Theo’s associates to help showcase her brother-in-law’s talents.  Johanna single-handedly made the greatest effort to have Vincent’s paintings live on and be appreciated by all walks of life.  In November of 2010, Smithsonian magazine wrote an article recognizing Johanna’s monumental contribution to the art world.  After her passing in 1925, her son Vincent—named for his artistic uncle—continued carrying forth the van Gogh family legacy.  The younger Vincent died in 1978.

Now what about the history of The Red Vineyard?  As mentioned before, Anna Boch purchased this painting at Les XX in early 1890.  According to her Web site (, she did this act of kindness for the then-struggling artist as well as being her brother Eugène’s colleague and friend.  Anna also purchased Van Gogh’s Peach Blossoms in the Crau (1889) in 1891 while Eugène owned a few more of Vincent’s paintings.

Anna Boch kept The Red Vineyard in her home for sixteen years.  In 1906, she sold the Van Gogh work for 10,000 francs to the Galerie Bernheim in Paris.  Later that same year, a Russian art collector named Sergei Shchukin purchased this painting for his house, the Trubestkoy Palace over in Moscow.  Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, Shchukin fled to Paris where he remained until he died in 1936.  Vladimir Lenin, who was then the Soviet leader, signed into law to obtain Shchukin’s vast collection of paintings in 1918.

Sergei Shchukin’s house became known as the State Museum of Western Art where his art collection remained until World War II.  The Red Vineyard and other paintings were taken to Novosibirsk (about 1750 miles east of Moscow) for safety around 1941.  Following WWII, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin divided up Shchukin’s art collection between the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.  The Red Vineyard has remained at the latter institute since 1948.

One day I’d like to make an excursion over to Moscow.  After touring the usual spots such as St. Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square, you can bet that I’ll make a pilgrimage to the Pushkin Museum to see The Red Vineyard.  Aside from being a great painting, it will remind me of how Theo van Gogh, his wife and the Bochs helped Vincent out and gave him a chance when few would.  And who knows?  Maybe I’ll even make a return trip to Amsterdam and finally see the Van Gogh Museum and Rembrandt van Rijn’s House.  (They were both closed when I went there last!)

So learn to help out others as well as accept the occasional help given to you.  There are red vineyards and strawberry fields awaiting all of us.  Thank you.

Glad that you enjoyed this article about this talented artist Vincent Van Gogh.  Just remember that nobody should go at the job search alone.  Your family and friends are there to help you out.  It’s up to you ask them.  Also, Consciousness magazine and I are not responsible for any of these steps taken in one’s job search.  We also do NOT condone or glorify Vincent Van Gogh’s 1890 suicide.  This piece was to inform our readers about helping others find employment, no matter what one’s status is or was.

Notes on Vincent Van Gogh and his family, as well as information on The Red Vineyard, can be found under the Wikipedia Web site.  The history of The Red Vineyard’s ownership can be found on the artist Anna Boch’s Web site at


  1. Excellent piece Eric. Very informative and with just the right sentiment in its conclusion. Well done!!!


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