Vincent Willem van Gogh, 1853 - 1890

portrait of Vincent van Gogh
Self-portrait (September 1889)

Born: 30 March 1853, Groot-Zundert, Netherlands
Died: 29 July 1890, Auvers-sur-Oise, France

Vincent was the son of a preacher, but his unstable emotions and lack of self-confidence lead him to fail at several careers and two romances before he chose to become an artist. His early works, done shortly after his training in Belgium, were very much genre works, with a dark palette and sharp lighting. He left Belgium for Paris in 1886, where his brother Théo managed a gallery, studied with Cormon, and met Pissarro, Monet, and Gauguin. Their influence led him to lighten his palette and paint in short, Impressionistic brush strokes. Unfortunately, between his nervous temperament and night-long discussions, his health suffered and he decided to go south to Arles, where he hoped that the others would follow and help him found an art school. Gauguin did in fact follow him, but it was a disaster. In 1888, Gauguin left Arles, and Van Gogh pursued him with an open straight razor. Gauguin stopped him, but while they struggled, Van Gogh sliced part of his own earlobe off.

This trauma triggered massive swings between madness and lucidity, and he was sent to the asylum of Saint-Remy for treatment. He seemed to improve and by May 1890, he was released to live in Auvers-sur-Oise. Two months later, he shot himself, "for the good of all." Van Gogh's life was short, and his best works were produced in the last three years of his life, but his works, such as Starry Night, Wheat Field With Cypresses, and Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, are now among the most valuable paintings.

Biography from Wikipedia and the Van Gogh Gallery

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