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The Life Story Of Vincent Van Gogh

The Life Story Of Vincent Van Gogh

On 30 March 1853, Vincent van Gogh was born in the south of the Netherlands, in the village of Groot-Zundert, in the province of North Brabant. He had two brothers and three sisters. Vincent was a thoughtful, silent and serious child.

In 1860, he went to the Zundert village school where there were about 200 pupils and only one teacher. From 1861 to 1864 Vincent and one of his sisters were taught at home. Then in the autumn of 1864 Vincent went to boarding school at Zevenbergen, about 20 miles distance from home. From 15 September 1866 to March 1868 Vincent went to Willem II College, in Tilberg. The successful artist, Constantijn C. Huysmans, taught Vincent to draw in a systematic way.

In July 1869, Vincent got a job at Goupil & Cie (an art dealer) in The Hague. In June 1873, he was sent to work in London at Messrs. Goupil & Co, 17 Southampton Street. This was a happy period for him and was earning more than his father. He started to become more isolated and had more zeal for religion. His uncle and father sent him to Paris to work in a dealership. This job lasted until 1 April 1876 when he lost the job because of his resentful attitude. He thought that art should not be treated as a commodity.

Vincent went to Ramsgate, in England, for an unpaid job as a supply teacher for a boarding school. He made sketches of the views of Ramsgate harbor. The job situation did not work out for Vincent so he left. At Christmas, he returned home and got a job at a bookshop in Dordrecht for six months.

Vincent’s growing zeal for religion led him to study theology in Amsterdam, in May 1877. Vincent failed the entrance exam and left in July 1878. He then went on a three month course at a Protestant missionary school, in Laeken near Brussels, but also failed at that.

In January 1879, van Gogh got a temporary position as a missionary in Petit Wasmes, in the coal mining district of Borinage, in Belgium. He chose to live like those he preached to, sharing in their hardships and squalid living conditions. The church authorities dismissed him for “undermining the dignity of the priesthood.” He returned to his parents home in Etten and stayed until March 1880. His father made inquiries about sending Vincent to a lunatic asylum at Geel.

Vincent went to Cuesmes where he was a lodger with a miner until October. He made drawings of the people and scenes around him. On 15 November 1880 he registered at the Acamedie Royale Des Beaux-Arts (school of art), in Brussels. He studied anatomy, perspective and modeling.

In April 1881, Vincent returned to Etten with his parents where he made more drawings. In the summer he spent a lot of time with his cousin, Kee Vos-Stricker, who was recently widowed. He proposed marriage but she refused. In November, Kee refused to see him even though he was very persistent. At Christmas, he had a big argument with his father then left to go to The Hague.

In January 1882, Vincent settled in The Hague and visited his cousin-in-law, Anton Mauve who was a Dutch realist painter. Mauve introduced him to painting in oils and watercolors and also lent him money to set up an artist’s studio. They had an argument and Mauve did not respond to Vincent’s letters. Van Gogh now lived with an alcoholic prostitute, Clasina Maria Sien Hoornik, and her five year old daughter.

Vincent’s uncle, who was an art dealer, commissioned twelve ink drawings of the city views and another seven drawings later on. Vincent soon completed these after arriving at The Hague. In June 1882, he was suffering with gonorrhea and was in hospital for three weeks. In the summer he started painting with oil paints. In the autumn of 1883 he left Sien. In December, because he was lonely he returned to his parents who had moved to Nuenen, North Brabant.

While van Gogh was in Nuenen he made many paintings and sketches of weavers in their cottages. His father died of a heart attack on 26 March 1885 and he grieved a lot. He stayed in Nuenen for two years and made almost 200 oil paintings and many watercolors and drawings. During this period he worked with mainly somber earth tones.

Vincent moved to Antwerp in November 1885 and rented a small room above a paint dealer’s shop. He studied color theory and visited museums which inspired him to use a more colorful palette. He became a heavy drinker of absinthe and ate poorly.

In March 1886, van Gogh went to Paris to study at Fernand Cormon’s studio. He stayed with his brother Theo in his apartment on Montmartre. During his period in Paris he painted scenes along the Seine and Montmartre, still life paintings, and portraits of friends. He also collected hundreds of Japanese prints and some were included in the background of some of his paintings. Other students at Cormon’s studio included Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec, Emile Bernard, and Louis Anquetin.

Vincent and Theo became friends with Paul Gauguin in November 1887. Vincent stayed in Paris for two years and painted over 200 paintings there. In February 1888, he left Paris because he was worn out by the city.

Van Gogh travelled to Arles, in the south of France, arriving on 21 February 1888. He was inspired by the vibrant light and local landscape of Arles, as can be seen in paintings of this period. They have intense colors, especially mauve, yellow and ultramarine. Paintings of this period include Van Gogh’s Chair (1888), The Night Cafe (1888), Bedroom In Arles (1888) and Still Life: Vase With Twelve Sunflowers (1888).

Vincent repeatedly asked Paul Gauguin to live and work with him at the Yellow House, in Arles. On 23 October 1888 Gauguin finally arrived. They started painting together but it was not long before their relationship deteriorated. They argued fiercely about art. On 23 December 1888, Vincent confronted Gauguin with a razor blade but then paniced and went to a local brothel. While there, he cut off his left ear, wrapped it in newspaper and gave it to a prostitute. Then he staggered home. Later on, Gauguin found him lying unconscious with his head covered in blood.

Van Gogh was in hospital for the next several days in a critical condition. Gauguin never saw Vincent again and left Arles. Vincent returned to the Yellow House but for the next month he was in and out of hospital because of hallucinations and delusions.

On 8 May 1889, Vincent entered the asylum at Saint Paul-de-Mausole, about 20 miles from Arles. The hospital is a former monastery and is surrounded by vineyards, olive trees and cornfields. In June 1889, he painted The Starry Night, one of his most well known paintings. During the year that he stayed at the asylum he painted many of his most compelling paintings.

In May 1890, Vincent moved to Auvers-sur-Oise, in the north western surburbs of Paris, to be treated by the physician Dr Paul Gachet. Gachet was also an amateur artist and had treated several other artists. Vincent painted some paintings of Gachet in June 1890. He painted about 70 oil paintings during his time at Auvers-sur-Oise.

Van Gogh’s illness became worse and at times he was either unable or unwilling to paint. This was a source of much frustration for him because he was also an artist at the peak of his ability. On 27 July 1890, he walked into a field and got a revolver out, then shot himself in the chest. He managed to walk back to his rented accommodation but after 29 hours he died there (aged 37).