26 MARCH 1954, Page 34

The World of Van Gogh. . Photographed by Emmy Andriesse.

(Simpkin Marshall. 25s.)

Tins book of photographs by Emmy Andriesse sets out to show the true back- ground to the last two and a half years of Van Gogh's life—not merely to document the subjects he painted but :'to place the all-important central figure in his no less important setting." The photographer died tragically at the age of thirty-nine early last year, leaving her full plan incomplete: the Arles, St. Remy and Auvers settings are explored but not, as she had hoped, in any detail, the earlier Nuenen and Borinage periods. The artist's life is briefly and gracefully outlined by W. Jos de Gruyter and the evocative insight of the photographs is established wherever possible by extracts from Van Gogh's letters. Perhaps the absence of colour makes it all a little unreal, for Vincent threw himself at the sun like a moth at a candle. Perhaps it is the personal nature of the collection which, in some respects, weakens it, for many facets of Van Gogh's Arles—the Yellow House in

the Place Lamartine, the Trinquetaille bridge and so on—did not survive the war and could not be photographed. At all events, though there are many beautiful pictures in this book, they often failed to give one reader the shock of recognition that the places themselves can scarcely fail to do. The book is an interesting experiment how- ever, and a happy example of trilingual lay- out by the talented Dutch designer Dick Elffers, who was the photographer's hus-