Theo Van Gogh was the younger brother of famous Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh, and their similarities were so close that people often commented on how nearly identical they looked. They both had long faces with high cheekbones, thick beards and brown eyes. Theo was also almost as passionate about painting as his brother, though he never achieved the same level of fame. He worked as an art dealer and managed his brother’s career, helping him to get recognition and financial success during Vincent’s lifetime. Though they weren’t always close—Vincent had a tumultuous relationship with Theo’s wife Johanna Bonger—they nonetheless had a strong bond, and Theo remained a devoted advocate for Vincent’s work even after his death. He worked diligently to promote Vincent’s legacy and keep his brother’s memory alive. In 1923, 11 years after Vincent’s death, Theo passed away from an illness that had plagued him since childhood. Though they never achieved the same level of renown, the Van Gogh brothers’ lives were inextricably intertwined and their remarkable similarities continue to fascinate people all over the world.
Theo’s influence on his brother’s career has been widely recognized, and he is remembered as an important figure in Vincent’s story. His dedication to preserving Vincent’s legacy serves as an inspiring example of the power of brotherly love.
The painting “Portrait of Theo Van Gogh” (1887) was created by Vincent Van Gogh during his time in the Netherlands. It depicts his younger brother, Theo, in a seated pose wearing a blue jacket and white shirt with a red scarf draped around his neck. The background is light-filled and abstracted, creating an airy and tranquil atmosphere. The painting is characterized by the bold brushstrokes, bright colors, and expressive use of light and shadow that are characteristic of Van Gogh’s work. The figure in the portrait appears confident and relaxed, conveying a sense of calm. Theo’s expression is gentle and thoughtful—a reminder of the close and loving relationship between the two brothers. This painting is an important representation of their bond and serves as a lasting tribute to Theo’s influence in Vincent’s life.
The painting has been praised for its emotional impact, with some critics describing it as “a touching testimony to the strong brotherly bond between Vincent and Theo”. It is one of Van Gogh’s most iconic works and continues to be celebrated for its beauty and significance.
This painting is currently housed in the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands.
More works by Vincent Van Gogh.