Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was a Dutch painter and is considered to be one of the greatest painters of the 19th century. He is one of the most famous artists of all time and is best known for cutting off his ear. The artist’s powerful images are well-known and among the most popular in art history.

Early Life

Vincent Van Gogh was born in Zundert, a village in North Brabant, in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. His mother had mental issues after the death of a sibling, and this led to difficult home life.

Vincent had a very erratic education even though he was a highly intelligent young man. He became an apprentice to an art dealer in The Hague and later worked in London. After leaving his role in London he returned home to the Netherlands and became a missionary and lived for a time in Belgium and became infamous for his extreme religious views.

Van Gogh left his role as a missionary after becoming disillusioned and, he became a full-time painter. His life was very chaotic, and his behavior was so concerning that his father considered having him committed to a lunatic asylum.


He was the eldest son of the Reverend Theodorus van Gogh (1822 – 1885). His mother was Anna Cornelia Carbentus (1819 – 1907). He had three sisters and they were Elisabeth, Anna, and Wil, and his brother beloved brother Theo. Vincent had a very close relationship with his brother, throughout his life.

Painting style

Van Gogh was initially a realistic painter and painted the hard lives of peasants. He later became a post-Impressionist painter. He reacted against the naturalism that was popular at the time and he experimented with line, color, and form. Van Gogh depicted his own emotional response to nature and his paintings while concerned with ordinary life are often vivid and dramatic such as ‘Starry Night’.

Many of his works deal with the theme of his mental illness and the subjects of hope, despair, and death.


Van Gogh did not have any formal training, he was largely self-taught. As a result, he did not become a full-time painter until later in life.

First painting

His first noteworthy painting is the Potato Eaters which he painted at the age of 32. This was a painting of some peasants eating and is much darker than his later work.

It is estimated that he painted over 2000 works in a remarkably short period of time. Many of his works were lost, particularly drawings, as Vincent van Gogh was unable to sell them so were given away, unappreciated.


Among the early influence of Vincent van Gogh was the French artist Paul Millet and Eugene Delacroix. Another influence was the Flemish Old Master Peter Paul Rubens. Several of the great Impressionists, including Claude Monet and Paul Cezanne, were much admired by the great Dutch artist. His friend Paul Gauguin also introduced him to post-Impressionism.

Vincent van Gogh’s Travels

Van Gogh lived in London and Belgium. He also spent time in The Hague, The Netherlands. Most of his painting was undertaken in France, some of his masterpieces were painted in Paris but especially in Arles and elsewhere in Provence. The sunlight and scenery of Provence greatly inspired him. It was in Provence that most of his greatest masterpieces were painted.


He collaborated with Paul Gauguin, they lived together for a small period of time and painted the same subjects, however, they did have a well-documented stormy if not, violent relationship.


Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear after losing his temper during an argument with Paul Gauguin. Some claim that Gauguin cut off the Dutch painter’s ear in a fight. van Gogh’s death has also been subject to historic debate, surrounding whether he committed suicide or shot himself accidentally.

Lost paintings

van Gogh has hundreds, if not thousands of lost artworks. Many of these are significant works, such as Still Life: Vase with Five Sunflowers which is believed destroyed during World War 2 in Japan, as well as Portrait of Dr. Gachet (1890) which has not been seen since it’s purchased by the now-deceased Japanese billionaire Ryoei Saito in 1990.

Final painting

Experts now agree that his last painting was Tree Roots (1890).

Later Life

Van Gogh suffered from mental illness and was a social misfit. He scandalized his parents by living openly with a prostitute. As a painter, he was a failure and was not recognized during his lifetime.

His brother Theo supported him financially and emotionally and the two exchanged many letters which are considered to be masterpieces of Dutch literature. In 1886 he moved to Paris and later he moved to Arles in Provence in the South of France.

By 1888 his style became much brighter, and his style entered his mature phase. He attempted to establish an artists’ colony in Arles. Van Gough was joined by Paul Gauguin. Van Gogh became addicted to the powerful alcoholic drink absinthe and experienced delusions.

After an argument with Gauguin, he cut off his ear and gave it to a maid in the local brothel in Arles. He was eventually committed to the local lunatic asylum and under the care of a kind doctor, he continued to paint. In January 1890 art critics became interested in Van Gough’s work.

However, despite the belated interest in his work, the artist was demoralized and seemed to have lost his passion for his art and even for life.


On the 7th of July 1890, Vincent van Gogh was found shot in the stomach in his room in the mental hospital. He died in agony two days later on the 29th of July 1890. His beloved brother Theo died of a broken heart, six months after Vincent’s death.

Famous paintings

Sunflowers, Wheatfield with Crows, Haystacks in Provence, and Wheatfield with Cypresses. Among his most famous portraits are his self-portraits such as his portrait with a beard. His still-life paintings are also world-renowned such as the ‘Sunflowers’.

Sold paintings

Van Gogh’s paintings fetch millions at auctions. The most expensive of his paintings was his Portrait of Dr. Gachet ($ 86 million). Other paintings sold for big money have been the Portrait of Joseph Roulin ($58 million) and Irises ($53.9 million)


Van Gogh has been a major influence on modern painting. Some of his influence can be seen in his influence on Expressionism, especially the emphasis on the artist’s emotions. Millions of people visit museums around the world to see his most famous paintings.

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