The Van Gogh Museum has unveiled their landmark website Vincent van Gogh: The Letters. Holy cow, this is one heckuva site! Free of charge, visitors can access the new and updated English translations of all van Gogh's correspondence, as well as annotated footnotes, pictures of the artworks associated with each letter, the texts in their original language, and scanned facsimiles of each page. It's much, if not all, the same content as the beautiful yet expensive bound volumes due to ship to stores and customers (me!!) any day now. With one notable exception: on a website, you can have search engines. Yesterday one of my seminar students was looking at the new site with me during an appointment to discuss her upcoming presentation, and for fun we typed "olive" into the keyword search (her presentation is on two of the Saint-Remy olive grove canvases)...presto! We found like magic all the letters in which Vincent discussed olive trees, and lots of other information she'll be able to use. Visitors can further sort the whole cache of letters by period, correspondent, and place.
I've been trying not to play with the new site too much, because a) I should be working; and b) I don't want to spoil the fun of opening the books when they arrive, but I've seen enough to say this is an invaluable resource for any van Gogh lover, student, or scholar. The design is beautiful -- the Dutch are known for their graphic design panache, and this site is no exception, with its clean lines, harmonious colors, and easy navigation. And the content, the product of 15 years' research by the Van Gogh Museum curators, is simply a treasure trove. Bravo!!