Always thought Van Gogh was Dutch? Well, think again! According to startling new evidence, it appears the master brush-man was born in Bangor, a small city on the A55 in north-west Wales!
Apparently, Van Gogh’s parents had taken a short vacation to the coastal town of Colwyn Bay in or around February 1853 and had unfortunately not been able to return to the Netherlands due to some mix-up or other at a local coffee house just outside Llandudno. This had resulted in them being denied carriage back from the Victorian resort to their native homeland.
Letters that have come to light recently only serve to confirm these astonishing revelations. Mr Ewan Ewan of Rhyl, not far from Colwyn Bay, remembers reading some love notes or correspondence between the heavily pregnant Anna Cornelia and her robust husband, Theodorus Van Gogh, which had been passed down through several generations of Ewans.
‘I distinctly recall reading letters,’ said Mr Ewan. ‘I had a little box. A little wooden box with a small escutcheon on the side. ‘Twas hidden up in my attic it was. I asked mama Ewan and she said it had always been there, isn’t it. Well, when I opened that little box I found all these wonderful love notes. Seems Van Gogh, the painter from the Netherlands, wasn’t so Dutch after all, as the letters clearly tell a beautiful love story, including the birth of little Vincent and carry on several years, isn’t it.’Ewan Ewan, Proper Welsh like.
Put succinctly, what the letters allude to is the fact that Vincent was born not far from the very well-known train station Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
Schooled at an early age till he was nearly 9, Vincent appears to have taken to the Welsh language extremely well and even taught his parents the linguistic basics.
It is unclear why the family elected to stay in Wales so long, (according to Ewan’s box of letters – nearly 10 years) but stay so long they appear to have done.
Ewan Ewan is adamant he knows the answer.
‘I’d like to say it was the beautiful Welsh countryside and the rolling mountains they must’ve seen all around them that made them fall in love with Wales, isn’t it.’Ewan Ewan, still Welsh
So there you have it. Not such a Dutch master, but a Welsh one in equal measure.
In writing up this article I asked Ewan Ewan whether I had spelt the name Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch correctly, as I was intending to do some local research.
‘Well if you haven’t, I don’t think anyone will notice, isn’t it.’
I had to concede he may have had a point.
A strange point to tell of finally. Ewan tells of further private letters that also suggest Van Gogh only lost his ability to speak Welsh once he cut off his ear.
I remained fascinated as Ewan drove me out to Bangor to see the house where Vincent had been born…