Biography of Vincent Van Gogh


Vincent Van Gogh was probably one of the most influential post-impressionist by taking the bright colors and style of painting and incorporating them into his own unique style. Van Gogh produced most

of his work in the last ten years of his life and some of his most famous works in the last two years of his life before he committed suicide.

Vincent Van Gogh was born in Groot-Zundert, Holland. He was the son of a pastor and was raised in a cultured and religious household. Vincent from the get go was very emotional and unstable. He had very little self confidence and met many unstable relationships and friendships and bounced around from job to job.

Van Gogh was born on March 30th, 1853, his mother was Anna Cornelia Carbentus and his father was Reverend Theodorus van Gogh. His father was the reverend of the protestant church in Groot-Zundert, Holland. He had three sisters Elisabeth, Anna and Wil, he also had two brothers Theo and Cor. Van Gogh was a quiet child showed very little interest in anything. Van Gogh did not have a typical education. In 1870 he was hired by the Hague gallery, he just sixteen years old. Three years later van Gogh was transferred to London by the Goupil et Cie and then two years after being sent to London he was sent to Paris. After being transferred to Paris van Gogh decided that he was going to become a pastor like his father. He went to school for a little bit but then left school to start a ministry with a group of miners in Borinage. This time of his life would later influence his works such as The Potato Eaters, he became fascinated with depicting the peasant life. After leaving the miners, with the push of his brother Theo, van Gogh became a painter. He was met with resistance by his own doubt and the doubt of his parents. His brother supported him morally and finically.

When van Gogh began painting he had no formal training or open artistic talent. With the help of being pushed by Theo, Vincent van Gogh would become one of the most famous painters of his time. He evolved from this self doubting young man to a brilliant, but troubled, mind. Van Gogh had many mental illness battles. Vincent moved back home at age 27 after completing 9 months of further education. When he returned home he began to teach himself to draw, he used different techniques and styles. He also experimented with different subject matter. He also mastered perspective, shading and anatomy. His early works relate back to the peasant life he lived among the miners as their pastor. At the end of the year van Gogh was receiving art lessons from his cousin Anton Mauve. During the time of being taught by Mauve he met and fell in love with a prostitute, whom had a child out of wedlock and currently pregnant. This caused a strain on the friendship of van Gogh and Mauve, which eventually dissolved. The prostitute would become a subject in his paintings when possible. He broke off the relationship and soon moved to Drenthe following Mauve and other artists of the time, he lost interest there and moved back home to his parents. Van Gogh during his time home tried to model his works after the famous French artist Jean-Franqois Millet. Millet was famous for his paintings of peasant life. He began to master weathered features of his peasant subjects. This was his way of showing the hard commoners life doing manual labor. In 1885 van Gogh decided to enroll in an art academy in Antwerp. He learned about Peter Paul Rubens an various Japanese artists which influenced his future work immensely. Theo and Vincent moved in together in Paris in early 1886 where he was immersed in the modern art from impressionism and post impressionism. Van Gogh used the bright pallet and dropped the his older darker pallet and researched the Japanese style of art.

Vincent and Paul Gauguin, who he met in Paris, moved to Arles in 1888. Around this time van Gogh’s mental illness began to take hold. He chased Gauguin around with a knife and later that same day he cut his ear off. Van Gogh spent some time in a mental institution and during this time Gauguin packed up and left. At the end of 1888 van Gogh left to go to an asylum in Saint-Remy-de- Provence, here his works became a torrent of activity. He was unable to go for long periods of time painting or drawing with out suffering an attack. While committed though, van Gogh painted one of his most famous works, Starry Night, some say that the swirly-ness of the painting is about his mental state of the time because during his stint in the asylum most of his work uses that technique. Upon leaving the asylum van Gogh contacted his brother Theo. This time of his life is when he began to produce massive amounts of work, about a painting a day. Van Gogh was still deeply troubled, he believed that his life a was a failure and that it was a complete waste. On july 27, 1890 van Gogh attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest.

He survived the intial attempt but shortly died two days later from complications of the wound. His brother Theo was collecting all of Vincent’s work from Paris and various other places died six months after his brother. Theo’s wife made it her job to get Vincent Van Gogh the recognition that she felt he deserved. She took all of his works to Holland and published them and van Gogh became famous almost instantly. Even today everyone know who Vincent Van Gogh was.

Vincent led a very troubled and tragic life. He fought mental illness everyday and rejection from many people. He had the support of his brother, Theo, and that was it. His tragedies translated into amazing artwork, artwork that is still capturing the fascination of millions and millions of people today. Many of his works are in public museums to be enjoyed by the general masses and others are privately owned.

“The Cypress" shown in the 1890 Salon des Independents in Paris, was painted in late June 1889, after Van Gogh began his year-long stint at the asylum in Saint-Remy .the painting is an oil on canvas. The motif, which van Gogh found as beautiful of line and both captivated and challenged Vincent. The way the painting is done is interesting and also hard to understand how he pulled it off. The cypress itself is the only dark, black object in the painting, he makes the Cypress stand, jump out. It contrasts the sunny and happy landscape happening in the back. "Cypresses" and "Wheat Field with Cypresses" were intended as part of a series of cypresses that would be the opposite but also equivalent of the sunflower paintings Van Gogh had painted earlier in Arles.

Cypresses was painted using the same technique that van Gogh used during his time spent at Saint- Remy, the swirl-y-ness. The type of technique he used in this painting some say show his mental decline. This painting was one of the first he painted while committed. Some believe this is why it is not as swirl-y as his later paintings in the asylum. The painting was sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1949.

The Flowering Orchard belongs to a series of fourteen blossoming orchards that Van Gogh painted in spring 1888, in Arles, where he worked from 1888 until 1889. The painting is an oil on canvas. The painting, which includes a scythe and rake, is one of only two orchards that hint to human presence or labor. The motif and Van Gogh's stylized treatment are related to Japanese prints, that he had study after returning to live in france. This series of paintings shows his view on nature and also how he sees that nature shouldn’t be infringed upon by humans. He feels that it is in all of its glory with out man coming along and messing with it. He shows the tree at its most beautiful state, in full bloom at the height of spring. He immortalizes the beauty of the blossoms and the tree. This was done in many Japanese artworks. This painting was sold to Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1955.

The Potato Peeler is one of Van Gogh’s earlier paintings. In this painting he uses a much darker pallet. This was painted in 1885, and is an oil on canvas. It is painted in a fractured way. The figure is also very blockish in the painting. She is also very solemn looking. This was before van Gogh studied the Japanese art and impressionist and post impressionist movement. He painted this among his series of paintings after the peasant life he led as a minister in the mining community of Borinage. This painting shows how the hard life of the poor affected van Gogh’s view on life. He saw these people as hard working, weathered, aged people. After he left Borinage he studied other types of art. He mastered many types of painting and is well known for his use of color and different techniques. This painting is currently housed in Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Vincent Van Gogh led a very hard and troubled life. He battle mental disease his entire life. He also was very unstable from job to job. He was dismissed from Borinage where he rubbed people the wrong way. He did not like working for the art gallery. Van Gogh’s parents were not very supportive of his wanting to paint, it was his brother, Theo, who pushed him and helped him find his true passion. The works that van Gogh produced still today captivate people around the world. As you look at the paintings from each period of his life, from living poor to being in the asylum, you see how each situation affected him greatly. He painted very dark and aged figures during his time spent in Borinage. Then he painted on a brighter pallet when he lived in France. Finally when in the asylum he combined the bright and dark and used a very unconventional painting technique. Van Gogh is one of the most famous, if not the most famous, post impressionist painters of the world.

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