Exactly one year before Vincent van Gogh was born, his mother had given birth to an already dead baby (stillborn). That baby had also been named Vincent.
He quit school when he was only 15 and headed off to England in 1869.
There he began a career not as a painter but as
an art dealer with the firm Goupil & Cie. Van Gogh spent seven years with the firm, but became unhappy and decided to try his hand teaching at a Catholic
school for boys. In the following years, Vincent went from job to job, living in various cities in Europe. Finally in 1880, van Gogh decided to head to Brussels to begin studies in art. During the next ten years, he painted 872 paintings.
Van Gogh did not get much recognition during his lifetime. He only sold one painting while he was alive, which was Red Vineyard at Arles. For most of his life he was very poor, often spending his money on art supplies instead of food.
Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 in Zundert as the eldest son of the protestant minister Theodorus van Gogh (1822-1885) and Anna Cornelia Carbentus (1819-1907)
Vincent also suffered from severe depression and was admitted to an asylum in December 1888, after chopping off part of his own ear (and not all of it as the myth suggests). He would be in and out of asylums for the next year.
It is thought that he was actually epileptic (a condition of the brain that causes seizures) and that is why people thought he had fits of insanity throughout his life.
While in the asylum Vincent painted one of his best-known paintings,
Starry Night. In mid-May 1890, Vincent left the asylum and spent the last few months of his life in Auvers, France.
On July 27, 1890 Vincent van Gogh
shot himself in the chest with a revolver. Two days later he died
with his younger brother, Theo, by his side.
For the last few months of van Gogh's life,
he was seeing Dr. Gachet about his mental instability.
Van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet
remains one of the most expensive paintings in the world.
In 1990, Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito,
paid $82.5 million for the painting. But since his death in 1996,
the painting has not been seen.
VINCENT VAN GOGH
Vincent van Gogh was the son of a Dutch pastor. He was first employed in The Hague, London and Paris by the picture dealers for whom his brother Theo worked.
He then taught in two English schools, worked in a book shop in Holland, began studying fo the Church, and became a missionary in the coalmining district of the Borinage in Belgium, where he shared the poverty and hardships of the miners.
He did not begin to become an artist until he was living in great poverty after his dismissal from the mission in 1880, and from then until 1886 he lived variously at Brussels, Etten, The Hague, Drenthe, Huenen and Antwerp, teaching himself to draw and paint, with occasional lessons in Brussels, from his relation Anton Mauve, a member of the Hague School, in The Hague, and at the Academy in Antwerp, which appear to have contributed little to his development.
In 1886 he joined Theo in Paris and immediately came into contact with the works of the Impressionists, which Theo endeavoured to sell in the gallery devoted to modern art that he directed. He met Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissarro, Degas, Seurat and Gauguin, and in 1888 went to Arles where he was later joined by Gauguin.
In December 1888 he became insane, which resulted in the famous incident with his ear, and from then until his death he suffered intermittent attacks of mental trouble. During the intervals between them he continued to paint, both in the asylums at Arles and St Remy and after his removal to Auvers, where, in July 1890, he shot himself. His brother Theo, to whom most of his long and revealing letters were addressed, and who was his constant support, moral and financial, died six months later.
Van Gogh's Dutch period is characterized by his use of dark colour, heavy forms, and subject matter chiefly drawn from peasants and their work. He ignored Theo's advice to lighten his palette as the Impressionists were doing, but during his short stay in Antwerp he became more interested in Japanese prints and the work of Rubens. After is arrival in Paris, a complete change took place in his palette and subject matter: he adopted the Impressionist technique, leaning briefly towards the pointillism of Seurat, and turned to flowers, views of Paris, and portraits and self-portraits which enabled him to experiment with these new ideas. After he went to Arles, he painted many landscapes and portraits in heightened colour and with a vivid, passionate expression of light and feeling, and after the arrival of Gauguin his work shows the influence of Synthetism in the greater simplification of his forms and his use of less modulated colour. His paintings done at St Remy and Auvers are vivid in colour and with writhing, flame-like forms in the drawing, completely expressive of his tormented sensibility. His greatest influence was on Munch and the German Expressionism.
He left a vast volume of work, all painted 1880-90, most of which is in a special van Gogh museum in Amsterdam (more than 200 paintings and 600 drawings), and in the Kroller-Moller Museum at Otterlo in Holland. There are also works in Amsterdam (Stedelijk Mus.), Baltimore, Boston (Mus.), Cambridge Mass. (Fogg), Chicago, Copenhagen, Edinburgh (NG), Essen, Glasgow, London (NG, tate, Courtauld Inst.), Minneapolis, Moscow, New York (Met. Mus., M of MA, Brooklyn), Paris (Mus. d'Orsay, Mus Rodin), Sao Paulo, Washington (NG, Philips), and too many other museums to list individually.
Source: The Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists (Penguin Reference Books)
Watch: Vincent & Theo (Dvd)