Document Type

Book Chapter

Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Van Gogh's Ghost Paintings: Art and Spirit in Gethsemane

First Page


Last Page



Presented by permission of and available from Wipf and Stock Publishers.

ISBN: 978-1-4982-0307-4


  • Foreword by David Cain
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1: Locating the Ghost Paintings
  • Chapter 2: A Zen Master’s Question
  • Chapter 3: Quest for the Artist

Date of Submission

June 2015


One of the most significant and revealing paintings by the world famous artist Vincent van Gogh was never seen by anyone but the artist himself. The painting was so important to the artist that he painted it twice. He was so conflicted about the painting that he destroyed it twice. Cliff Edwards argues these two unique paintings Vincent created and destroyed are at least as important to understanding the artist and his work as are the two thousand or more paintings and drawings that do exist. In Van Gogh's Ghost Paintings, Edwards invites his readers on a journey that begins in a Zen master's room in Japan and ends at a favorite site of the artist, a ruined monastery and its garden in the south of France. Recovering the intent of van Gogh and the nature of his "ghost paintings" becomes a "zen koan" waiting to be solved. The solution offers access to the deepest levels of the artist's life as painter and spiritual pilgrim. The journey leads to the artist's choice of the biblical theme of the Garden of Gethsemane. The answer to the mystery of the lost paintings illuminates the relationship of joy and suffering, discovery and creation, religion and the arts in van Gogh's life and work. In this fascinating book Edwards solves a long-ignored mystery that provides a critical key to the relation of van Gogh's religion and art.


Copyright © 2015 Cliff Edwards. All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical publications or reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher. Write: Permissions, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 199 W. 8th Ave., Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401.

Recommended Citation

Edwards, Cliff. "Chapters 1-3." In Van Gogh's Ghost Paintings: Art and Spirit in Gethsemane. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2015, Available from VCU Scholars Compass,