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Vincent van Gogh

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Vincent van Gogh
Impressionist portrait painting of a man with a reddish beard wearing a dark coat and white shirt while looking forward with his body facing left
Self-portrait (1887), Art Institute of Chicago
Birth name Vincent Willem van Gogh
Born 30 March 1853
Zundert, Netherlands
Died 29 July 1890 (aged 37)
Auvers-sur-Oise, France
Nationality Dutch
Field Painter
Movement Post-Impressionism
Works The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, The Starry Night, Irises, Portrait of Dr. Gachet
Influenced by Anton Mauve, Jean-François Millet, Adolphe Joseph Thomas Monticelli, Impressionism
Self-portrait 1886, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Self-portrait 1889, Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Almond Blossoms, 1890, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Wheatfield with Crows, 1890, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Vincent Willem van Gogh,[1] (30 March 1853–29 July 1890), was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter. His work had a great influence on modern art because of its striking colors and emotional power. He suffered from anxiety and fits of mental illness. When he was 37, he shot himself dead.

When he was a young man, Van Gogh worked for a company of art dealers. He traveled between The Hague, London and Paris. After that, he taught in England. He then wanted to become a pastor and spread the Gospel, and from 1879 he worked as a missionary in a mining place in Belgium. He began drawing the people there, and in 1885, he painted his first important work, The Potato Eaters. He usually painted in dark colors at this time. In March 1886, he moved to Paris and found out about the French Impressionists. Later, he moved to the south of France, and the colors in his art became brighter. His special style of art was developed and later fully grown during the time he stayed in Arles in 1888.

Early life

Vincent van Gogh was born in Groot-Zundert, Holland. He was a son of a pastor, and was brought up in a religious family. Vincent was very emotional and he did not have enough self-confidence. He was also a replacement child.[2] He was born a year after the death of his brother, also named Vincent.[2] He even had the same birthday.[2] Living at the church rectory Vincent walked past the grave of his dead brother every day.


Between 1860 and 1880, when he finally decided to become an artist, van Gogh had had two sad romances. He also had worked unsuccessfully in a bookstore, as an art salesman, and a preacher. He remained in Belgium, where he had preached, to study art. The works of his early Dutch period are sad, sharp, and one of the most famous pictures from here is "The Potato Eaters", painted in 1885. In that year, van Gogh went to Antwerp where he found the works of Rubens and bought a lot of Japanese prints.[3]

In 1886 he went to Paris to join his brother Théo, who was the manager of Goupil's gallery. In Paris, van Gogh studied with Cormon. He also met Pissarro, Monet, and Gauguin. This helped the colors of his paintings lighten and be painted in short strokes from the paintbrush. His nervous temper made him a difficult companion and night-long discussions combined with painting all day made him very unhealthy. He decided to go south to Arles where he hoped his friends would join him and help found a school of art. Gauguin did join him, but it did not help. Near the end of 1888, Gauguin left Arles. Van Gogh followed him with an open razor, but was stopped by Gauguin. Instead, he cut his own ear lobe off. After that, van Gogh began to get fits of madness and was sent to the asylum in Saint-Remy for medical treatment.[3]


In May of 1890, he regained his health and went to live in Auvers-sur-Oise. Dr. Gachet watched him carefully. However, two months later on 27 July, he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest. He died two days later, with Theo at his side, who reported his last words as "La tristese durera toujours", which meant, "The sadness will last forever" in French.[4]


During his brief career he had only sold one painting. Van Gogh's finest works were all sold in less than three years. Van Gogh's mother threw away a lot of his paintings during his life and even after his death. But she lived long enough to see him become a world famous painter. He was not well known when he was alive, and most people did not appreciate his art. After he died, though, he became very famous. Today, many people think he is one of the greatest painters in the world and an important influence on modern art. Van Gogh did not begin painting until he was almost 30. Most of his famous works were done in his last two years. He made more than 2,000 artworks, with 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches. Today, many of his pieces—portraits, landscapes and sunflowers—are some of the most famous and costly works of art in the world.


  1. The pronunciation of "Van Gogh" varies. In English it is pronounced /ˌvæn ˈɡɒx/ or sometimes how to say: /ˌvæn ˈɡɒf/, especially in the UK. It is also pronounced as how to say: /ˌvæn ˈɡoʊ/ with a silent gh, especially in the US.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 L. Anisfeld; A. D. Richards, 'The Replacement Child: Variations on a Theme in History and Psychoanalysis', Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Vol. 55 (2000),pp. 301-318
  3. "Vincent van Gogh Biography". Retrieved 4 May 2010.

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