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Chapter 147 - The Mysterious Art Museum

A street artist's life changed when he ended up at a mysterious art museum. DBT,Korean,Novel,Translation,Art,Artist,Slice of life,Poor to Rich,Mystery

Meeting Van Gogh (2)

"I am painting three sunflowers. Thinking of Gauguin staying with me, I wanted to decorate the studio. Just with big sunflowers. To carry out this plan, I think I need about twelve paintings. When all these paintings are gathered, blue and yellow will harmonize beautifully."

Van Gogh's Yellow House, painted in September 1888.

I was deeply moved seeing the artists' studio Van Gogh created in Arles, France. It’s no longer visible to people. It was destroyed during World War II.

Van Gogh, coming out of the hotel, rented this house for 13 francs a week.

The landlord initially asked for 17 francs, but Van Gogh managed to negotiate it down to 13 francs.

Escaping the cramped hotel room, he seemed very happy in his small house, though it was undecorated due to lack of money.

He still went out to paint every morning and returned at dusk, but he seemed extremely happy with the time spent in his house.

And every night, he would write letters.

One to his brother Theo, and another to Paul Gauguin, who he hoped would join him in turning the studio into a communal one for artists.

I sat in a small chair in the studio, watching Van Gogh write letters, his arms crossed.

When writing to his brother, his face showed sorrow and longing; to Gauguin, it was filled with excitement and anticipation.

I observed him for several days.

Yesterday, while painting trees in the forest alone, he was approached by two men.

They introduced themselves.

“Nice painting, I am Dodge Macknight, an American artist, and this is Eugene Boch, an artist from Poland.”

Ah, I thought they were just passersby. Eugene Boch was close enough to Van Gogh to be immortalized in a portrait.

Van Gogh, learning they were artists, greeted them warmly.


"Where are you from?"

"From the Netherlands."

"Oh, a beautiful country, the Netherlands."

"Thank you."

Eugene asked, "Your painting is almost complete. What time did you start?"

"I came out at 7 in the morning."

"Since 7 a.m.? That's impressive."

"Nothing different from other days. I always do this."

Van Gogh resumed painting. Watching his brushwork, Dodge commented.

"You paint very quickly."

"I have to. It needs to be finished before the sun sets."

"But your style is quite unique. What is this method?"

"I just mix various styles. More than the method, I prefer to capture the soul of the subject, using exaggerated colors. I like delicate paintings, filled with joy and ecstasy. Oh, by the way, I’m planning to create a communal studio for artists in the village. If you are interested, come along."

"A communal studio? Who else is there?"

"Paul Gauguin will come."


Unlike the then-unknown Van Gogh, Gauguin was somewhat famous. Eugene quickly asked, "Can we meet him now?"

"He hasn't arrived yet."

"Excuse me?"

"It's just me for now. But he will come soon."


The two exchanged looks, signaling that they found Van Gogh a bit odd.

Van Gogh, unfazed, continued, "I plan to establish an association for artists. The goal is to provide an environment where artists can focus on their work without worrying about livelihood. How do you sustain yourselves?"

"We have some inherited wealth."

"Lucky you. Most artists I know are penniless. Gauguin, too, despite his genius and artistic prowess, lives worse than a homeless dog. That’s why we must unite. In the art world, only dealers make money."

"Hmm, that's true. Recently a Millet painting sold for 800,000 francs."

"What? 800,000 francs?"

"A huge sum, isn't it?"

"But such large sums are usually made after the artist's death. Living artists' works are barely noticed. Isn’t that unfair? Everyone thinks so."

"That's true. Even someone as boring as Millet becomes famous after death."

At this, Van Gogh's expression changed. He glared at Dodge.

"Millet is boring?"

"Don't you think? His paintings of women gleaning, The Angelus, peasants threshing or sowing seeds are all useless and not beautiful."

"Millet is boring?"

Repeating the question, sensing something off, the two fell silent.

Van Gogh quietly glared at Dodge, then packed his paint supplies and stood up.

"You’ll always be a second-rate artist. Daring to call Millet boring, I'll see what kind of paintings you make. Now get lost."


"Get lost! Disappear from my sight!"

Dodji seemed upset and was about to retort. However, his friend Eugen pushed him away and awkwardly laughed.

“My friend made a mistake. I apologize. If there's another chance, we'll meet again. Now, let's go.”

Van Gogh glared at the retreating figures. Just as they disappeared from his sight, he yelled out.

“The true power of art lies in addressing the ordinary with sublimity! How dare you belittle Millet, who was born a peasant, died a peasant, and never left his land? Ah, you foolish ones! Spit!”

As I watched Van Gogh writing a letter, I remembered the incident from yesterday and couldn’t help but smirk.

“No wonder he has no friends.”

Suddenly, I recalled what Yonghan said to a kid during a broadcast. Did I appear like that? As dogmatic, stubborn, and dismissive of others’ opinions?

Van Gogh yesterday was not having a conversation; he was merely speaking his mind.

He admired Millet. In the early days of his painting career, he practiced by copying Millet's works.

Of course, the copies he made were entirely different from Millet's originals. Even the peasants in 'The Potato Eaters' were depicted differently from Millet's style.

At first glance, the painting seems quite dark, but what Van Gogh really wanted to depict was a harmonious peasant family.

His unique style made the smiling woman in the painting look bizarre, even frightening, but this was how Van Gogh admired and followed the peasants in Millet's works.

Just like how I mockingly thought of my teachers, he was now excited over the disrespectful remarks about Millet.

Lost in thought, I watched Van Gogh writing a letter for a long time.

Then, late at night, someone knocked on the door of the Yellow House.

Knock, knock.

Van Gogh, who was writing a letter, raised his head.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, Joseph.”

Van Gogh quickly stood up. I knew who it was just by the name.

It was the bearded postman I had met yesterday for the first time. I knew his name because of Van Gogh's portrait of Joseph Roulin, indicating a close friendship between them.

Van Gogh swung the door open and asked.

“Did Gauguin reply?”

“Ha, yes. The awaited reply has come.”

Joseph handed over the letter. Van Gogh tore it open right there, read it, and burst into cheers, hugging Joseph.

“Yippee!! Finally!! Joseph! Gauguin is coming here! To work with me!”

“Oh, is that so? Congratulations. Come draw my portrait when you have time. I’ll buy you a bottle of absinthe.”

“Sure! I’ll do that. Thanks for delivering the letter, Joseph!”

“No problem, it’s my job. Well, I’ll be going now.”

Joseph left, and Van Gogh excitedly ran around the house.

“I'll put a bed here for him, and a small chest of drawers would be good here. Ah! And I should move this chair over there.”

He was so busy, as if Gauguin would arrive the next day. He must have been eagerly waiting.

Van Gogh walked around the house, moving furniture, and then suddenly stopped to look at his home.

“Too shabby. Not fitting for an artists’ studio.”

Indeed, it was a very plain house.

Van Gogh looked out the window at the closed flower shop.

“Flowers would be too expensive to decorate with.”

At that time, flowers in Paris were not expensive, and they still aren’t. But flowers wilt quickly. He couldn’t afford to replace them regularly.

Van Gogh crossed his arms and stared at the flower shop for a while, then his face lit up like a lightbulb.

“That’s it! Flowers that don’t need replacing because they never wilt!”

And thus, the moment we've been anticipating.

One of Van Gogh's most famous paintings, the Sunflowers, was born.

The Sunflowers we know were painted by Van Gogh intending to decorate his home in anticipation of Gauguin's arrival in Arles.

Despite the late hour, Van Gogh took out a new canvas and started painting the sunflowers, muttering to himself.

“Twelve pieces should be enough to decorate the whole house splendidly.”

Van Gogh aimed to paint twelve sunflowers, but I knew he could only complete about three. Gauguin arrived sooner than expected.

I looked at Van Gogh with a sense of pity.

'He waited so eagerly.'

In truth, Gauguin’s visit to Van Gogh was not to work in a joint studio but a brief stop, partially financed by Theo, Vincent’s brother.

Gauguin would have a major conflict with Van Gogh during his stay and leave soon after. This event led to Van Gogh having a breakdown, cutting off his own ear, and eventually being admitted to a mental hospital.

Perhaps Van Gogh struggled so much because he was fighting loneliness?

If he had a true friend to share his heart with, maybe he would have lived a little longer.

I crossed my arms, lost in thought.

‘Perhaps the worst thing in life is not feeling lonely alone, but feeling lonely even when with others. Maybe that’s exactly how Van Gogh felt.’

True loneliness doesn’t come from being without people.

It comes from being unable to share the things important to you with anyone.

Van Gogh, in his life and its ending, proved this very point.

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