Vincent van Gogh – A small biography
As for me I am rather often uneasy in my mind…..Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was a Dutch Post Impressionist painter who’s most famous works includes landscapes of Cypress, flower fields and a few self portraits. What is surprising about Van Gogh is the fact that he did draw as a child, but it wasn’t until his late twenties that he took up painting. Some of his best works were done in the last two years of his life. He created a staggering 2100 pieces of art work, out of which around 860 are oil paintings while more than 1300 are water colors drawings and sketches. Despite creating such a huge number of paintings Van Gogh remained virtually penniless and not well-known during his lifetime. It was after his death that his paintings got the recognition which they deserved.
Early Life – Van Gogh was born on March 30th 1853 in Netherlands. He was born to Theodoros an ascetic country minister and Anna Cornelia a temperamental artist. It was his mother’s love of painting which drew Vincent towards Art. Van Gogh had been named after a sibling who was still-born a year before him. Simply seeing his name Vincent on the tombstone was enough to make Van Gogh feel depressed.
Due to financial difficulties faced by the family, Vincent had to leave school at the age of 15. He started working at his uncle’s art dealership in Hague. At this age Van Gogh became proficient in French, German and English along with being already fluent in Dutch.
In 1873 Van Gogh transferred to London and became enamored by the British Culture. Thereupon he fell in love with his landlord’s daughter but she refused to marry him. Because of this Van Gogh suffered a mental breakdown and was kicked out from the gallery where he worked when he started telling people to stop buying the worthless Art.
Later on he was recruited as a part of a clergy, and moved to a coal mine to preach to the families of miners. His contract wasn’t renewed and he had to look for another way of livelihood.
Artistic CareerVan Gogh’s artistic career began in 1880 when he moved to Brussels. Since he had no formal training as an artist he was supported by his younger brother, Theo, who was an art dealer. Van Gogh took inspiration from the writings of Jean Francios Millet and Charles Bargue.
Throughout his lifetime Van Gogh proved to be unlucky in love. His love for his widowed cousin, Kate, remained unrequited and she fled leaving him baffled and dejected. In Hague he again fell in love with Clasina Maria, a prostitute who was also an alcoholic. She became his muse and modeled for several of his paintings. However she went back to prostitution leaving Van Gogh to suffer a major nervous breakdown once again.
It was only his art which help him stay focused. He made his first masterpiece The Potato Eaters in 1885. When he moved to Paris in1886, Van Gogh came across Impressionists paintings. He started working with artists like Pissaro and Henri de Toulouse. His enchantment with Japanese art, lead him to study eastern philosophy so he could use the knowledge to enhance his art work.
However a time came when Van Gogh started suffering bouts of mental illness. His friendship with Gauguin came to a sudden end when he started threatening him. It was said that he had even started eating paint and turpentine. He cut off his own ear and offered it to a local prostitute. After that Van Gogh was admitted in a mental asylum. There he started to paint the hospital gardens.
Towards the end of his life tragedy became his constant companion. A tiff between the brothers led Van Gogh to take his own life. He died at the age of 37 in his brother’s arms. Soon after his death his brother too followed him. However his brother’s wife Joanna was a patron of Van Gogh’s art and started collecting as many of his pieces as she could. In 1901, 70 of Van Gogh’s paintings were displayed in Paris and he became famous after his tragic death only.