With this "homage to Theo van Gogh", the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam inaugurated its new wing, destined to house temporary exhibitions, in June 1999. Through 130 pieces bought or sold by Theo as part of his activities as an art dealer, others from his private collection, which he acquired with his brother Vincent's approval, and documents (letters, photographs, diverse papers, mostly from the Van Gogh Museum archives), the aim of this exhibition was to highlight the personality and activities of Theo, who is better known as the painter Vincent van Gogh's brother and supporter.
Theo's beginnings Theo van Gogh (1857-1891) first worked as an art dealer in 1873 in the Brussels art gallery owned by his uncle Hendrick van Gogh. A few months later, he was sent to the Hague as an employee of Goupil & Co., an internationally-known Parisian merchant specialised in paintings and engravings who set up numerous branches in Europe and the United States.
A guide for Theo: his brother Vincent Vincent, his brother and elder by four years, preceded him in this career as early as 1869. He acted as Theo's mentor, guiding him in his reading, his visits to museums and encouraging him to collect prints, in particular reproductions of paintings by contemporary artists. These exchanges continued in Paris, where Theo was sent for the 1878 World Fair. He settled there and around 1880 he became director of the Paris branch of Goupil & Co. at 19 Boulevard Montmartre. As for Vincent, he left Goupil & Co. in 1876 and decided, after much hesitation, to become a painter. In 1886 he came to Paris, staying with his brother, before going two years later to the south of France.