Vincent Van Gogh's last words were, 'La tristesse durera toujours', which means, 'The sadness will last forever'.
Letter from Theo van Gogh to Elisabeth van Gogh
Theo to his sister Lies
5th August 1890
To say we must be grateful that he rests - I still hesitate to do so. Maybe I should call it one of the great cruelties of life on this earth and maybe we should count him among the martyrs who died with a smile on their face.
He did not wish to stay alive and his mind was so calm because he had always fought for his convictions, convictions that he had measured against the best and noblest of his predecessors. His love for his father, for the gospel, for the poor and the unhappy, for the great men of literature and painting, is enough proof for that. In the last letter which he wrote me and which dates from some four days before his death, it says, “I try to do as well as certain painters whom I have greatly loved and admired.” People should realize that he was a great artist, something which often coincides with being a great human being. In the course of time this will surely be acknowledged, and many will regret his early death. He himself wanted to die, when I sat at his bedside and said that we would try to get him better and that we hoped that he would then be spared this kind of despair, he said, “La tristesse durera toujours” [The sadness will last forever]. I understood what he wanted to say with those words.
A few moments later he felt suffocated and within one minute he closed his eyes. A great rest came over him from which he did not come to life again.