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Gardner, M.R. (1999). On Seeing Stars, Halos, and Other Illuminations: Some Speculations about Vincent van Gogh. Ann. Psychoanal., 26:47-57.

(1999). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 26:47-57

On Seeing Stars, Halos, and Other Illuminations: Some Speculations about Vincent van Gogh

M. Robert Gardner, M.D.


In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent writes:

Did I tell you about the storm I watched recently? The sea was yellowish, especially near the shore; on the horizon, a strip of light, and above it immense dark gray clouds from which the rain poured down in slanting streaks … I also saw the sea last Sunday night. Everything was dark and gray, but in the horizon the day began to dawn … A lark was already singing. So were the nightingales in the gardens near the sea. In the distance shone the light from the lighthouse … From the window of my room that same night I looked on the roofs of the houses … and on the tops of the elm trees, dark against the night sky. Over those roofs one single star, but a beautiful large friendly one. And I thought of you all and of my own past years and of our home [Letter 67, Vol. I, pp. 57, 58].

In the same letter, he speaks of another “view from the window,” “the twilight when the lamps were lit and their lights were reflected in the wet street,” “the dark stairs and passage to the dining room where the bright sun is shining,” and of a “room (with) a dim light that filters … through a window with broken panes.”


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