Vincent van Gogh
and the Good Samaritan
The Wounded Painter's Journey
Like Henri Nouwen’s bestselling Return of the Prodigal Son, this unique book by Henry Martin, himself a writer, artist and former priest, explores the spiritual depth of Vincent Van Gogh’s The Good Samaritan. He reflects on Van Gogh’s aspirations to be christlike, his struggles and wanderings, and how these might have influenced him as he painted, and asks what lessons we can learn from meditation upon the imagery and each of the characters portrayed in this, Jesus’ most famous parable.
Regent College in Vancouver interviewed me in 2022. You can listen to it here.
‘Reading this book is like experiencing that breathtaking moment in Van Gogh’s work, when the browns and blacks of the early paintings are overwhelmed by the explosion of colour and beauty that marks his arrival in Provence. Henry Martin has brilliantly illuminated Jesus’ parable and Vincent’s life, and you’ll never see either in the same way again.’
Rt Revd Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool
I found this book educational, moving and thought-provoking and it makes me want to read Van Gogh’s letters. Henry Martin brings out so much of Van Gogh’s personality and character and he helps us to really reflect on the wonderful parable of the Good Samaritan. His is an excellent book, well worth reading. I certainly enjoyed reading it.
Anthony Redmond, review in the Irish Catholic
‘Beautifully structured and filled with insights from an author who is both a priest and a painter, Henry’s compelling enthusiasm both for Jesus’ parable and van Gogh’s painting, has produced a book bursting with insights into art, God and life.’
Revd Professor Maggi Dawn, Professor of Theology, Durham University
‘I have enjoyed this book as much as I can remember ever enjoying any I have read. I am in awe at the breadth of knowledge it displays and the insight and compassion that pulsates through every page. Henry raises myriads of life’s important questions and provides suggestions for how to tackle them without once being prescriptive.’
Rt Revd David Gillett, formerly Bishop of Bolton and Principal of Trinity College, Bristol
‘Oh, this is good. Being cynical about the ‘art history’ approach to spirituality I did not really expect Van Gogh’s painting of the Good Samaritan to shed much light on the parable, but I was wrong. This is fresh, instructive, wise and inspiring – and the command to ‘go and do likewise’ is expounded with bracing honesty and a challenging sting in the tail. Highly recommended for personal or group reading.’
The Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, Associate Chaplain of St George’s Anglican Church, Paris, and formerly Dean of St Albans
‘With tremendous tenderness, meticulous detail and hard-won insight into the human condition, Henry Martin lovingly paints Vincent van Gogh painting the Good Samaritan. By the end of this life-changing book, it as if Christ were the artist, we his subject, our world his irresistible canvas, our darkest shadows bathed in radiant cheering yellow.’
Rt Revd David Wilbourne, formerly Assistant Bishop of Llandaff