top of page

The Unknown Van Gogh: The Life of Cornelis van Gogh from the Netherlands to South Africa

ISBN 9781770227910

Cor van Gogh
Cor van Gogh

Much has been written about Vincent van Gogh and his tempestuous relationship with his brother Theo. But few people know that there was a third Van Gogh brother, Cornelis, who was raised in the Netherlands, but worked, married and died in South Africa. The son of a Protestant minister, Cor spent his youth in a series of small Dutch towns, with idyllic holidays walking in the countryside with his artist brother, before troubles and tragedies beset the Van Gogh family. In 1889, the twenty-two-year-old Cor sailed to South Africa, where he worked as an engineer on the gold mines and on the railways. In the Anglo-Boer War he joined the Boers, first as a railway engineer and later on commando in the Free State, where in 1900 he suffered a fate that echoed his famous brother’s tragic end.

The Unknown Van Gogh recreates South Africa in the tumultuous last decade of the nineteenth century; reconstructs the personal story of a young immigrant from letters and other archival documents; and explores his relationship with his famous brother Vincent. With new insights based on original research, this book uncovers a figure who has been forgotten by history.

bottom of page