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How Vincent Became Van Gogh

One of the world’s most enduring artistic legacies, Vincent van Gogh’s global renown was in large part due to the efforts of his family. The world’s understanding of his work would be incomplete and his eponymous museum in Amsterdam would not exist without the tireless efforts of Van Gogh’s brother Theo van Gogh (1857-1891), Theo’s wife Jo van Gogh-Bonger (1862-1925), and their son Vincent Willem van Gogh (1890-1978).

Sunday, March 12

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This panel focuses on the impact of the artist’s family on his notoriety and explores how members of the Van Gogh family have contributed to our understanding of Van Gogh’s life and work over the years. It also asks how this contribution has influenced—and continues to influence—how Van Gogh’s work has been collected by private individuals and museums. Does more insight into Van Gogh’s life change how we perceive his paintings and change the value they are ascribed, in more ways than one? Sharing their perspectives on these questions are Lisa Smit, curator of paintings at the Van Gogh Museum, and Vincent Willem van Gogh, Theo van Gogh’s great-grandson.

TEFAF Talks are interactive panel discussions exploring today’s most fascinating topics in the worlds of art, antiques, and design. Paired with leading content partners, these talks showcase the knowledge of leading experts in the broader TEFAF community. This talk is presented in partnership with Apollo Magazine and moderated by Edward Behrens, editor of Apollo Magazine.


Edward Behrens, Editor, Apollo Magazine (Moderator)

V. Willem van Gogh, Advisor to the Board, Van Gogh Museum

V. Willem van Gogh (1953) is the great-grandson of Theo van Gogh, the brother of the painter. After a career as a lawyer, Willem van Gogh has been working for the Van Gogh Museum since 1999. First as Director of the shops and since 2009 as Advisor to the Board. In this role, Willem van Gogh works as an ambassador for the museum to expand and strengthen the museum’s national and international network.

Lisa Smit, Curator of Paintings, Van Gogh Museum

Lisa Smit is Curator of Paintings at the Van Gogh Museum and curated the current exhibitionChoosing Vincent. Portrait of a Family History. Smit began her career at the Van Gogh Museum as a researcher specializing in French fin-de-siècle printmaking. She went on to coordinate the museum’s collection cataloguing project and provenance research from 2018 to 2021. She curated the exhibition In the Picture (2020) and was the researcher for Golden Boy Gustav Klimt (2022). She is the joint compiler of the catalogue of paintings and drawings by Van Gogh’s contemporaries.

Cover image by Vincent Van Gogh. Courtesy Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).