Vincent & Sien

Reviewed By  Grasshopper2       August 5, 2023


Author  Silvia Kwon

Distributor:      Pan MacMillan
ISBN:                 9781761264863
Publisher:         Pan MacMillan
Release Date:   July 2023  


When we read the notes of Silvia Kwon we find that she has long been interested in Vincent van Goh. She has studied his work minutely, and in Amsterdam, she came across a painting, The Potato Eaters, which moved her greatly.

She found dignity in the peasant family eating their meal. This led her to investigate the artist’s life while he was living in The Hague (where this was painted), and his relationship with Sien Hoornik. On further investigation, Silvia was surprised by the “Crucial role,” Sien played in the artist’s development.

Silva read Vincent Van Goh’s account of the relationship between himself and the street lady. Interestingly, Vincent’s letters have been retained and upon reading them, you can see the regard and love he felt for her. However, Silvia felt that Sien’s story was not adequately told and has created a story told from her perspective. The story begins with Sien, pregnant, hungry and needing to provide food and money for herself, her child and her mother. She began to solicit men for a few coins. This was where Vincent entered her life.

Vincent and Sien A Story of Love and Art unfolds with wonderful realism. The times and people are so harsh and poverty is real. The divide between the wealthy and poor is immense and when Vincent invited Sien to his apartment and cared for her, she could never quite believe that she was a worthy person. While Vincent was the dreamer and idealist, Sien was the realist… They nurture each other for several years, but lack of funds and always that sense of disbelief, eventually ended the relationship.

 This well researched description of the times and conditions in which Vincent lived adds to our knowledge of the man. In his paintings, we may see a reflection of the dignity and courage of Sien, his muse.