Vincent van Gogh biography:
Hi everyone! Today we’re going to talk about the nineteenth-century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. He was born March 30th, 1853, in the Netherlands, the oldest surviving child of his parents. Vincent was named for his grandfather and a brother who was stillborn exactly a year before his birth.
He would later have two more brothers and three sisters. His brother Theo, only four years younger, was one of his closest friends throughout his life. Van Gogh was interested in art from his childhood, and as a young man, he became an art dealer.
He soon became frustrated and resentful, however, and was fired, after which he struggled to find a vocation. He tried being a teacher, worked in a bookshop, attempted to become a pastor, and spent time as a missionary. In 1880, at the age of 27, Van Gogh attended art school after his brother Theo suggested that he try his hand at it.
As Van Gogh became serious about his drawing and painting, he continued to struggle in relationships with friends, family, and artists he worked with. He fell in love with his widowed cousin and proposed, but was forcefully rejected. He fought with his father.
He began working with his second cousin, a successful artist, but they soon had a falling out and the cousin stopped replying to Van Gogh’s letters.
It was Theo who lent Vincent the money to buy his first oil paints, which sparked a new period of productivity. Van Gogh began to produce hundreds of paintings, mostly dark and serious. By 1885 he began to attract interest from art dealers, but his work was so unlike the bright paintings of other Impressionists that it did not sell.
He then moved to Belgium to continue his study of art, enrolling in the Academy of Fine Arts there and spending time in museums. Due to both his unconventional painting style and his temper, Van Gogh fought with the teachers at the Academy and soon moved to Paris to stay with Theo.
He stayed there for less than a year, however, as Theo found living with Van Gogh “almost unbearable,” but by 1887 Vincent moved out and the brothers were at peace again.
Paris is where Vincent Van Gogh began to add color to his paintings, experimenting with Japanese-style paintings and pointillism, but he did not stay there long. In 1888, feeling worn out and sick, he moved to Arles in the south of France.
This is where many of his most famous paintings were made. Once in Arles, he invited his friend, French painter Paul Gauguin, to stay with him. The two artists worked together for a short time, but their personalities clashed, causing quarrels.
When Gauguin decided to leave, Van Gogh threatened him with a razor, which he then used to cut off part of his own ear. He was diagnosed with mania and delirium and spent two weeks in the hospital.
Soon afterward he entered an asylum, where he spent the next year of his life. Despite his confinement, he continued to paint, creating some of his greatest works during this time. Near the beginning of 1890, Vincent Van Gogh’s painting began to attract more attention. His work was praised in a literary magazine and he was invited to participate in exhibitions.
In May of that year, he left the asylum, moving to the outskirts of Paris to be close to Theo again, and he seemed re-energized, with fresh enthusiasm for his work. Sadly, it would not last. On July 27, 1890, Van Gogh was shot.
Although it is most widely believed that he shot himself in an attempt to commit suicide, some argue that he was hit accidentally by boys playing with a gun, and he did not want them to be punished.
This would explain something he said on his deathbed: “Do not accuse anyone…it is I who wanted to kill myself.” Whether by his own hand or another’s, Vincent Van Gogh died on July 29th, 1890, at the age of 37. He left behind more than two thousand completed artworks, including over 800 oil paintings, most of which were done in the last two years of his life.
His distinctive style makes his work unmistakable, and his experimentation with color and line helped push art in new directions, directly influencing the development of Expressionism.
He did not live to see it, but today Vincent van Gogh is one of the most famous painters in history. His paintings that no one wanted to buy are now worth millions of dollars and include some of the most widely recognized paintings in the world.