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The Life of Vincent Van Gogh

The Life of Vincent Van Gogh

Here on the Paint Plot Art Academy, we like to share tips and tricks to help you with your crafts, as well as other topics that you might find interesting; including artist profiles.

Today, we want to share a story that you might already know a bit about and arguably one of the most famous painters in the world today, Vincent Van Gogh.

Vincent was one of the most influential impressionist artists that ever lived.  Unfortunately, during his life he never even had a hint of how famous he would become.

He painted his subjects through his own eyes, the way he felt, with soul.  This was often misunderstood by his fellow artists.

Vincent suffered from a ‘well documented’ mental illness and during an argument with fellow artist and friend Paul Gaugin, he cut off his left ear.

With the help and support of his brother Theo, including financial, he went to seek help for his condition.

It was here at Saint Remy that he created probably his most famous painting of all Starry Night.

Only a year later, Vincent van Goh took his own life.

So, who was Vincent van Goh? and what influence did growing up in the 19th Century have on his art styles and life.

The Life of Vincent van Goh.

Vincent Van Goh was born on 30th March 1853 in the Netherlands to Theodorus van Gogh, a minister and Anna Cornelia Carbentus, an artist.

Vincent grew up in the 19th century, an exciting time of the steam train.  This changed the whole World but most importantly allowed everything and everyone to start moving around Europe.

His early paintings, influenced by artists such as Rembrandt, were of dark hues and mainly portraiture.

He painted what he saw, ‘the harsh realities of life’.  Extreme poverty was widespread and this was depicted in his early works.

A classic example of his early works is the Potato Eaters.

He preferred to paint the lives of ordinary people, like the potato eaters, (a family of farmers) he gave the peasants coarse faces and bony hands to depict that they had worked hard for their food. 

However, not everyone was in agreeance with the dark hues and criticised his profiles.

He travelled to Paris to be with his brother Theo, who was the one that encouraged him to paint after many varied career paths.

It was Theo who introduced him to a group of ‘like minded’ artists called ‘Impressionists’

Monet and Renoir introduced him to a more colourful palette and he began to experiment and become a little bolder and adventurous with his use of colours.

Theo and Vincent were extremely close.  Theo was the turning point in Vincent’s life when he suggested he should become an artist. After Theo’s death, six months later, his wife Johanna committed herself to making his artwork known after his death.

10 Interesting facts about his life:

  • There were three other Vincent van Goh’s in the family. He and his still born brother were named after their grandfather.  His brother named his only son Vincent.
  • His first job was as an art dealer, where his interest with Dutch masters such as Rembrandt and Frans Hals began.
  • He did not start painting until he was 27 years old.
  • He was mostly self-taught, he only received formal artistic training for about four months a few years before his death
  • He only sold one painting throughout his career, ‘The Red Vineyard’.
  • He never married or had any children.
  • He spoke four languages: Dutch, French, English and German.
  • He was a prolific writer and his life was documented by the many letters he wrote. Of the 844 surviving letters, 663 were written to his brother Theo.
  • In the 10 years as an artist, he created about 2,100 artworks, including 860 oil paintings. A great majority of these were created in the last two years of his life.
  • Dr Gachet’s portrait, the physician who cared for Vincent in the months prior to his death, sold for $82.5 million in 1990.

Not only was Vincent van Goh a talented artist but also a passionate letter writer.  He wrote letters about his life.  He talked about his dreams and disappointments, his personal life and about his battle with his mental illness.

These are located, alongside some of his artwork, at the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. 

One has to ponder and wonder what Vincent van Goh would have thought about his fame today.

He died on 27th July 1890, a small town in France called Auvers, which is about an hour from Paris.

With his brother Theo by his side he is said to have uttered his last words ‘The sadness will last forever’.

As much as Paint Plot would love to have a selection of Vincent van Goh’s famous artwork, unfortunately we cannot. His paintings are not copyrighted because so much time has passed since he passed but you cannot reproduce his artwork for commercial purposes.

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