Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh

Overview
Vincent Willem van Gogh (icon, us;The pronunciation of "Van Gogh" varies in both English and Dutch. Especially in British English it is ˌ or sometimes ˌ . U.S. dictionaries list ˌ , with a silent gh, as the most common pronunciation. In the dialect of Holland, it is ˈvɪnsɛnt fɑnˈxɔx, with a voiceless V. Van Gogh grew up in Brabant (although his parents were not born there), and used Brabant dialect in his writing; it is therefore likely that he himself pronounced his name with a Brabant accent: vɑnˈʝɔç, with a voiced V and palatalized G and gh. In France, where much of his work was produced, it is vɑ̃ ɡɔɡə
vɑn ˈɣɔχ; 30 March 1853 29 July 1890) was a Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 post-Impressionist
Post-Impressionism
Post-Impressionism is the term coined by the British artist and art critic Roger Fry in 1910 to describe the development of French art since Manet. Fry used the term when he organized the 1910 exhibition Manet and Post-Impressionism...

 painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art.
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Quotations

The thing has already taken form in my mind before I start it. The first attempts are absolutely unbearable. I say this because I want you to know that if you see something worthwhile in what I am doing, it is not by accident but because of real direction and purpose.

As quoted in The Path of Least Resistance : Principles for Creating What You Want to Create (1984) by Robert Fritz, p. 181

When I have a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion. Then I go out and paint the stars.

As quoted in An Examined Faith : Social Context and Religious Commitment (1991) by James Luther Adams and George K. Beach, p. 259

I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.

As quoted in Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity (1997) by Jan Phillips, p. 176

I have often neglected my appearance. I admit it, and I also admit that it is "shocking." But look here, lack of money and poverty have something to do with it too, as well as a profound disillusionment, and besides, it is sometimes a good way of ensuring the solitude you need, of concentrating more or less on whatever study you are immersed in.

Now for the past five years or so, I don't know how long exactly, I have been more or less without permanent employment, wandering from pillar to post. You will say, ever since such and such a time you have been going downhill, you have been feeble, you have done nothing. Is that entirely true?

Encyclopedia
Vincent Willem van Gogh (icon, us;The pronunciation of "Van Gogh" varies in both English and Dutch. Especially in British English it is ˌ or sometimes ˌ . U.S. dictionaries list ˌ , with a silent gh, as the most common pronunciation. In the dialect of Holland, it is ˈvɪnsɛnt fɑnˈxɔx, with a voiceless V. Van Gogh grew up in Brabant (although his parents were not born there), and used Brabant dialect in his writing; it is therefore likely that he himself pronounced his name with a Brabant accent: vɑnˈʝɔç, with a voiced V and palatalized G and gh. In France, where much of his work was produced, it is vɑ̃ ɡɔɡə
vɑn ˈɣɔχ; 30 March 1853 29 July 1890) was a Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 post-Impressionist
Post-Impressionism
Post-Impressionism is the term coined by the British artist and art critic Roger Fry in 1910 to describe the development of French art since Manet. Fry used the term when he organized the 1910 exhibition Manet and Post-Impressionism...

 painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. After years of painful anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

 and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died at the age of 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted.A biography published in 2011 contends that van Gogh did not kill himself. The authors claim that he was shot by two boys he knew, who had a "malfunctioning gun". See Vincent van Gogh's death
Vincent van Gogh's death
The death of Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch post-Impressionist painter, occurred in the early morning of 29 July 1890, in his room at the Auberge Ravoux in the village of Auvers-sur-Oise in northern France. He suffered a gunshot wound two days earlier not far from the inn...

.
His work was then known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still.

Van Gogh loved art from an early age. He began to draw as a child, and he continued making drawings throughout the years leading to his decision to become an artist. He did not begin painting until his late twenties, completing many of his best-known works during his last two years. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints. His work included self portraits
Self-Portraits by Vincent van Gogh
The dozens of self-portraits by Vincent van Gogh were an important part of his oeuvre as a painter. Vincent van Gogh created many self-portraits during his lifetime. Most probably, Van Gogh's self portraits are depicting the face as it appeared in the mirror he used to reproduce his face, i.e...

, landscapes, still lifes of flowers, portraits and paintings of cypresses, wheat fields
Wheat Fields (Van Gogh series)
Vincent van Gogh painted dozens of Wheat Fields , borne out of his religious studies and sermons, connection to nature, appreciation of manual laborers and desire to provide a means of offering comfort to others...

 and sunflowers
Sunflowers (series of paintings)
Sunflowers are the subject of two series of still life paintings by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. The earlier series executed in Paris in 1887 gives the flowers lying on the ground, while the second set executed a year later in Arles shows bouquets of sunflowers in a vase...

.

Van Gogh spent his early adulthood working for a firm of art dealers, traveling between The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

, London and Paris, after which he taught for a time in England. One of his early aspirations was to become a pastor and from 1879 he worked as a missionary in a mining region in Belgium where he began to sketch people from the local community. In 1885, he painted his first major work The Potato Eaters
The Potato Eaters
The Potato Eaters is a painting by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh which he painted in April 1885 while in Nuenen, Netherlands. It is housed in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam...

. His palette
Palette (painting)
A palette , in the original sense of the word, is a rigid, flat surface on which a painter arranges and mixes paints. A palette is usually made of wood, plastic, ceramic, or other hard, inert, nonporous material, and can vary greatly in size and shape...

 at the time consisted mainly of somber earth tones and showed no sign of the vivid coloration that distinguished his later work. In March 1886, he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

. Later he moved to the south of France and was taken by the strong sunlight he found there. His work grew brighter in color, and he developed the unique and highly recognizable style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

 in 1888.

The extent to which his mental health affected his painting has been a subject of speculation since his death. Despite a widespread tendency to romanticize his ill health, modern critics see an artist deeply frustrated by the inactivity and incoherence brought about by his bouts of illness. According to art critic Robert Hughes
Robert Hughes (critic)
Robert Studley Forrest Hughes, AO is an Australian-born art critic, writer and television documentary maker who has resided in New York since 1970.-Early life:...

, van Gogh's late works show an artist at the height of his ability, completely in control and "longing for concision and grace".

Letters


The most comprehensive primary source for the understanding of van Gogh as an artist is the collection of letters between him and his younger brother, art dealer
Art dealer
An art dealer is a person or company that buys and sells works of art. Art dealers' professional associations serve to set high standards for accreditation or membership and to support art exhibitions and shows.-Role:...

 Theo van Gogh
Theo van Gogh (art dealer)
Theodorus "Theo" van Gogh was a Dutch art dealer. He was the younger brother of Vincent van Gogh, and Theo's unfailing financial and emotional support allowed his brother to devote himself entirely to painting...

. They lay the foundation for most of what is known about the thoughts and beliefs of the artist. Theo provided his brother with both financial and emotional support. Their lifelong friendship, and most of what is known of van Gogh's thoughts and theories of art, is recorded in the hundreds of letters they exchanged between 1872 and 1890: more than 600 from Vincent to Theo and 40 from Theo to Vincent.

Although many are undated, art historians have generally been able to put them in chronological order. Problems remain, mainly in dating those from Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

 although it is known that during that period, van Gogh wrote 200 letters to friends in Dutch, French and English. The period when Vincent lived in Paris is the most difficult for historians to analyze because the brothers lived together and had no need to correspond.

In addition to letters to and from Theo, other surviving documents include those to Van Rappard
Anthon van Rappard
Anthon Gerard Alexander van Rappard was a Dutch painter and draughtsman. He was a pupil of Lawrence Alma-Tadema and for about four years a friend and mentor of Vincent van Gogh, who appreciated him, amongst other reasons, for his social engagement.-Biography:According to the RKD he worked in...

, Émile Bernard
Émile Bernard
Émile Henri Bernard is known as a Post-Impressionist painter who had artistic friendships with Van Gogh, Gauguin and Eugene Boch, and at a later time, Cézanne. Most of his notable work was accomplished at a young age, in the years 1886 through 1897. He is also associated with Cloisonnism and...

, van Gogh's sister Wil
Wil van Gogh
Willemina Jacoba van Gogh , called Wil, was the youngest sister of the artist Vincent van Gogh and the art dealer Theo van Gogh. She was amongst the earliest feminists....

 and her friend Line Kruysse. The letters were first annotated in 1913 by Theo's widow Johanna van Gogh-Bonger
Johanna van Gogh-Bonger
Johanna Gezina van Gogh-Bonger was the wife of Theo van Gogh, art dealer, and the sister-in-law of the painter Vincent van Gogh. After the death of Vincent and her husband she worked assiduously on editing the brothers' correspondence, producing the first volume in Dutch in 1914...

 who explained that she published them with 'trepidation' because she did not want the drama in the artist's life to overshadow his work. Van Gogh himself was an avid reader of other artists' biographies and expected their lives to be in keeping with the character of their art.

Early life



Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 in Groot-Zundert
Zundert
Zundert is a municipality and a town in Noord Brabant, the Netherlands.Zundert lies about 10 metres above Dutch sea level , and is located 15 km south-west of the city of Breda, and 35 km north-east of Antwerp, Belgium...

, a village close to Breda
Breda
Breda is a municipality and a city in the southern part of the Netherlands. The name Breda derived from brede Aa and refers to the confluence of the rivers Mark and Aa. As a fortified city, the city was of strategic military and political significance...

 in the province of North Brabant
North Brabant
North Brabant , sometimes called Brabant, is a province of the Netherlands, located in the south of the country, bordered by Belgium in the south, the Meuse River in the north, Limburg in the east and Zeeland in the west.- History :...

 in the south of the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, a predominantly Catholic area. He was the oldest child of Theodorus van Gogh, a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church
Dutch Reformed Church
The Dutch Reformed Church was a Reformed Christian denomination in the Netherlands. It existed from the 1570s to 2004, the year it merged with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands to form the Protestant Church in the...

, and Anna Cornelia Carbentus. Vincent was given the name of his grandfather, and of a brother stillborn exactly a year before his birth.It has been suggested that being given the same name as his dead elder brother might have had a deep psychological impact on the young artist, and that elements of his art, such as the portrayal of pairs of male figures, can be traced back to this. See Lubin (1972), 82–4 The practice of reusing a name was not unusual. Vincent was a common name in the Van Gogh family: his grandfather, Vincent (1789–1874), had received his degree of theology at the University of Leiden in 1811. Grandfather Vincent had six sons, three of whom became art dealers, including another Vincent who was referred to in van Gogh's letters as "Uncle Cent". Grandfather Vincent had perhaps been named in turn after his own father's uncle, the successful sculptor Vincent van Gogh (1729–1802). Art and religion were the two occupations to which the Van Gogh family gravitated. His brother Theodorus
Theo van Gogh (art dealer)
Theodorus "Theo" van Gogh was a Dutch art dealer. He was the younger brother of Vincent van Gogh, and Theo's unfailing financial and emotional support allowed his brother to devote himself entirely to painting...

 "Theo" was born on 1 May 1857. He had another brother, Cor, and three sisters: Elisabeth, Anna and Willemina
Wil van Gogh
Willemina Jacoba van Gogh , called Wil, was the youngest sister of the artist Vincent van Gogh and the art dealer Theo van Gogh. She was amongst the earliest feminists....

 "Wil".

As a child, Vincent was serious, silent and thoughtful. He attended the Zundert village school from 1860, where the single Catholic teacher taught around 200 pupils. From 1861, he and his sister Anna were taught at home by a governess
Governess
A governess is a girl or woman employed to teach and train children in a private household. In contrast to a nanny or a babysitter, she concentrates on teaching children, not on meeting their physical needs...

, until 1 October 1864, when he went to Jan Provily's boarding school at Zevenbergen
Zevenbergen
Zevenbergen is a Dutch city which is a part of the municipality of Moerdijk. Zevenbergen is located in the northwest of the province of Noord-Brabant near Breda.-History:...

 about 20 miles (32.2 km) away. He was distressed to leave his family home as he recalled later as an adult. On 15 September 1866, he went to the new middle school, Willem II College
Willem II College
Koning Willem II College is a school in Tilburg in the Netherlands. It was established in 1866 and is named after King Willem II. The school was founded in the former royal palace in Tilburg, the present City Hall, of which the construction was commissioned by King William II himself...

 in Tilburg. Constantijn C. Huysmans, a successful artist in Paris, taught van Gogh to draw at the school and advocated a systematic approach to the subject. Vincent's interest in art began at an early age. He began to draw as a child and continued making drawings throughout the years leading to his decision to become an artist. Though well-done and expressive, his early drawings do not approach the intensity he developed in his later work. In March 1868, van Gogh abruptly left school and returned home. A later comment on his early years was in an 1883 letter to Theo in which he wrote, "My youth was gloomy and cold and sterile".

In July 1869, his uncle Cent helped him obtain a position with the art dealer Goupil & Cie
Goupil & Cie
Goupil & Cie was a leading art dealership in 19th century France, with headquarters in Paris. Step by step, Goupil established a worldwide trade with reproductions of paintings and sculptures, with a network of branches in London, Brussels, The Hague, Berlin and Vienna, as well as in New York and...

 in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

. After his training, in June 1873, Goupil transferred him to London, where he lodged at 87 Hackford Road
Hackford Road
Hackford Road is a road in Brixton, Lambeth, south London, England. It runs north-south and is located between Clapham Road to the west and Brixton Road to the east. To the north is the Oval tube station....

, Brixton, and worked at Messrs. Goupil & Co., 17 Southampton Street. This was a happy time for Vincent; he was successful at work and was, at 20, earning more than his father. Theo's wife later remarked that this was the happiest year of Vincent's life. He fell in love with his landlady's daughter, Eugénie Loyer, but when he finally confessed his feelings to her, she rejected him, saying that she was secretly engaged to a former lodger. He became increasingly isolated and fervent about religion; his father and uncle arranged for him to be transferred to Paris, where he became resentful at how art was treated as a commodity
Commodity
In economics, a commodity is the generic term for any marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs. Economic commodities comprise goods and services....

, a fact apparent to customers. On 1 April 1876, Goupil terminated his employment.

Van Gogh returned to England for unpaid work as a supply teacher in a small boarding school
Boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...

 overlooking the harbor in Ramsgate
Ramsgate
Ramsgate is a seaside town in the district of Thanet in east Kent, England. It was one of the great English seaside towns of the 19th century and is a member of the ancient confederation of Cinque Ports. It has a population of around 40,000. Ramsgate's main attraction is its coastline and its main...

, where he made sketches of the view. When the proprietor of the school relocated to Isleworth
Isleworth
Isleworth is a small town of Saxon origin sited within the London Borough of Hounslow in west London, England. It lies immediately east of the town of Hounslow and west of the River Thames and its tributary the River Crane. Isleworth's original area of settlement, alongside the Thames, is known as...

, Middlesex, van Gogh moved with him, taking the train to Richmond and the remainder of the journey on foot. The arrangement did not work out and he left to became a Methodist
Methodism
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

 minister's assistant, following his wish to "preach the gospel everywhere." At Christmas, he returned home and found work in a bookshop in Dordrecht
Dordrecht
Dordrecht , colloquially Dordt, historically in English named Dort, is a city and municipality in the western Netherlands, located in the province of South Holland. It is the fourth largest city of the province, having a population of 118,601 in 2009...

 for six months. He was not happy in this new position and spent much of his time either doodling or translating passages from the Bible into English, French and German. His roommate at the time, a young teacher named Görlitz, recalled that van Gogh ate frugally, and preferred not to eat meat."...he would not eat meat, only a little morsel on Sundays, and then only after being urged by our landlady for a long time. Four potatoes with a suspicion of gravy and a mouthful of vegetables constituted his whole dinner"—from a letter to Frederik van Eeden, to help him with preparation for his article on Van Gogh in De Nieuwe Gids
De Nieuwe Gids
De Nieuwe Gids was a Dutch illustrated literary periodical which was published from 1885 to 1943. It played an important role in promoting the literary movement of 1880s...

, Issue 1, December 1890. Quoted in Van Gogh: A Self-Portrait; Letters Revealing His Life as a Painter. W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden , who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet,The first definition of "Anglo-American" in the OED is: "Of, belonging to, or involving both England and America." See also the definition "English in origin or birth, American by settlement or citizenship" in See also...

, New York Graphic Society, Greenwich, CT. 1961. 37–9


Van Gogh's religious zeal grew until he felt he had found his true vocation. To support his effort to become a pastor his family sent him to Amsterdam to study theology in May 1877, where he stayed with his uncle Jan van Gogh, a naval Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

. Vincent prepared for the entrance exam with his uncle Johannes Stricker
Johannes Stricker
Johannes Paulus Stricker was a theologian and biblical scholar. He attended the University of Leiden where he worked with J. F. van Oordt, a key figure in the new Groningen theology. He sat his ordination examination in May 1841, and was appointed to a ministerial post in October of that year...

; a respected theologian who published the first "Life of Jesus" in the Netherlands. Van Gogh failed the exam, and left his uncle Jan's house in July 1878. He then undertook, but failed, a three-month course at the Vlaamsche Opleidingsschool, a Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 missionary school in Laeken, near Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

.

In January 1879, he took a temporary post as a missionary in the village of Petit Wasmes
Petit Wasmes
Petit Wasmes is a village near Wasmes in the commune of Colfontaine in Belgium...

Letter 129, April 1879, and Letter 132. Van Gogh lodged in Wasmes at 22 rue de Wilson with Jean-Baptiste Denis a breeder or grower ('cultivateur', in the French original) according to Letter 553b. In the recollections of his nephew Jean Richez, gathered by Wilkie (in the 1970s!), 72–8. Denis and his wife Esther were running a bakery, and Richez admits that the only source of his knowledge is Aunt Esther. in the coal-mining district of Borinage
Borinage
The Borinage is an area in the Walloon province of Hainaut. The provincial capital Mons is located in the east of the Borinage. In French the inhabitants are called Borains...

 in Belgium. Taking Christianity to what he saw as its logical conclusion, van Gogh lived like those he preached to, sleeping on straw in a small hut at the back of the baker's house where he was staying. The baker's wife reported hearing van Gogh sobbing at night in the hut. His choice of squalid living conditions did not endear him to the appalled church authorities, who dismissed him for "undermining the dignity of the priesthood." He then walked to Brussels, returned briefly to the village of Cuesmes
Cuesmes
Cuesmes is a village near the Belgian town Mons in the province of Hainaut. The artist Vincent Van Gogh was a resident....

 in the Borinage but gave in to pressure from his parents to return home to Etten
Etten-Leur
Etten-Leur is a municipality in the southern Netherlands. Its name is a combination of the two towns from which the municipality originally arose: Etten and Leur...

. He stayed there until around March the following year,There are different views as to this period; Jan Hulsker (1990) opts for a return to the Borinage and then back to Etten in this period; Dorn, in: Ges7kó (2006), 48 & note 12 supports the line taken in this article a cause of increasing concern and frustration for his parents. There was particular conflict between Vincent and his father; Theodorus made inquiries about having his son committed to the lunatic asylum at Geel
Geel
Geel is a city located in the Belgian province of Antwerp which acquired the status of a city in the 1980s.It comprises Central-Geel which is constituted of 4 old parishes a/o towns : Sint-Amand, Sint-Dimpna, Holven and Elsum...

.see Jan Hulsker's speech The Borinage Episode and the Misrepresentation of Vincent van Gogh, Van Gogh Symposium, 10–11 May 1990. In Erickson (1998), 67–68

He returned to Cuesmes where he lodged with a miner named Charles Decrucq until October. Increasingly interested in the people and scenes around him, van Gogh recorded his time there in his drawings and followed Theo's suggestion that he should take up art in earnest. He traveled to Brussels that autumn intending to follow Theo's recommendation to study with the prominent Dutch artist Willem Roelofs
Willem Roelofs
Willem Roelofs was a Dutch painter, water-colourist, etcher, lithographer and draughtsman. Roelofs was one of the forerunners of the Dutch Revival art, after the Romantic Classicism of the beginning of the 19th century, which led to the formation of The Hague school.Willem Roelofs was born in...

, who persuaded him, in spite of his aversion to formal schools of art, to attend the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts
Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts
The Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels is an art school, founded in 1711.The faculty and alumni of ARBA include some of the most famous names in Belgian painting, sculpture, and architecture: James Ensor, Rene Magritte, and Paul Delvaux...

 in Brussels, where he registered on 15 November 1880. At the Académie , he studied anatomy and the standard rules of modeling
Shading
Shading refers to depicting depth perception in 3D models or illustrations by varying levels of darkness.-Drawing:Shading is a process used in drawing for depicting levels of darkness on paper by applying media more densely or with a darker shade for darker areas, and less densely or with a lighter...

 and perspective
Perspective (graphical)
Perspective in the graphic arts, such as drawing, is an approximate representation, on a flat surface , of an image as it is seen by the eye...

, about which he said, "...you have to know just to be able to draw the least thing." Van Gogh aspired to become an artist in God's service, stating: "...to try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God; one man wrote or told it in a book; another in a picture."

Etten, Drenthe and The Hague


In April 1881, van Gogh moved to the Etten countryside with his parents where he continued drawing, often using neighbors as subjects. Through the summer he spent time walking and talking with his recently widowed cousin, Kee Vos-Stricker, the daughter of his mother's older sister and Johannes Stricker, with whom he stayed in Amsterdam in 1878. Kee, who had an eight-year-old son, was seven years older than van Gogh. He proposed marriage, but she refused with the words, "No, never, never," (niet, nooit, nimmer). Late that November, van Gogh wrote a strongly worded letter to Johannes, and then hurried to Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 where he spoke with him on several occasions. Kee refused to see him, and her parents wrote, "Your persistence is disgusting." In desperation, he held his left hand in the flame of a lamp, with the words "Let me see her for as long as I can keep my hand in the flame." He did not recall the event well, but later assumed that his uncle blew out the flame. Kee's father made it clear to him that Kee's refusal should be heeded and that the two would not be married because of van Gogh's inability to support himself. Van Gogh's perception of his uncle and former tutor's hypocrisy affected him deeply. That Christmas he quarreled violently with his father, to the point of refusing a gift of money, and left for The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

.

In January 1882, he settled in The Hague where he called on his cousin-in-law, Anton Mauve
Anton Mauve
Anthonij Rudolf Mauve was a Dutch realist painter who was a leading member of the Hague School. He signed his paintings 'A. Mauve' or with a monogrammed 'A.M.'. He was a very significant early influence on his cousin-in-law Vincent van Gogh.Most of Mauve's work depicts people and animals in...

 (1838–88) who was a Dutch realist
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

 painter and a leading member of the Hague School
Hague School
The Hague School is the name given to a group of artists who lived and worked in The Hague between 1860 and 1890. Their work was heavily influenced by the realist painters of the French Barbizon school. The painters of the Hague school generally made use of relatively sombre colours, which is why...

. Mauve introduced him to painting in both oil and watercolor and lent him money to set up a studio but the two soon fell out, possibly over the issue of drawing from plaster cast
Plaster cast
A plaster cast is a copy made in plaster of another 3-dimensional form. The original from which the cast is taken may be a sculpture, building, a face, a fossil or other remains such as fresh or fossilised footprints – particularly in palaeontology .Sometimes a...

s. Mauve appears to have suddenly gone cold towards van Gogh and did not return a number of his letters. Van Gogh supposed that he had learned of his new domestic arrangement with an alcoholic prostitute, Clasina Maria "Sien" Hoornik
Sien (Van Gogh series)
Vincent van Gogh drew and painted a series of works of his mistress Sien during their time together in the Netherlands. Commonly called Sien Hoornik, Clasina Maria Hoornik lived with Vincent van Gogh during much of his time in The Hague from 1881 to 1883. Van Gogh used Sien, a pregnant prostitute,...

 (1850–1904) and her young daughter. He had met Sien towards the end of January when she had a five-year-old daughter and was pregnant. She had already borne two children who had died, although van Gogh was unaware of this. On 2 July, she gave birth to a baby boy, Willem. When van Gogh's father discovered the details of their relationship, he put considerable pressure on his son to abandon Sien and her children, although Vincent at first defied him.

Van Gogh's uncle Cornelis, an art dealer, commissioned 12 ink drawings of views of the city, which van Gogh completed soon after arriving in The Hague, along with a further seven drawings that May. In June, he spent three weeks in a hospital suffering from gonorrhea
Gonorrhea
Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The usual symptoms in men are burning with urination and penile discharge. Women, on the other hand, are asymptomatic half the time or have vaginal discharge and pelvic pain...

. During the summer he began to paint in oil. In autumn 1883, after a year together, he left Sien and the two children. He had thought of moving the family out of the city but in the end made the break. It is possible that lack of money pushed Sien back to prostitution—the home became less happy, and van Gogh may have felt family life was irreconcilable with his artistic development. When he left, Sien gave her daughter to her mother and baby Willem to her brother. She then moved to Delft
Delft
Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland , the Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam and The Hague....

, and later to Antwerp. Willem remembered being taken to visit his mother in Rotterdam
Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

 at around the age of 12, where his uncle tried to persuade Sien to marry in order to legitimize the child. Willem remembered his mother saying, "But I know who the father is. He was an artist I lived with nearly 20 years ago in The Hague. His name was van Gogh." She then turned to Willem and said "You are called after him." While Willem believed himself van Gogh's son, the timing of his birth makes this unlikely. In 1904, Sien drowned herself in the River Scheldt
Scheldt
The Scheldt is a 350 km long river in northern France, western Belgium and the southwestern part of the Netherlands...

. Van Gogh moved to the Dutch province of Drenthe
Drenthe
Drenthe is a province of the Netherlands, located in the north-east of the country. The capital city is Assen. It is bordered by Overijssel to the south, Friesland to the west, Groningen to the north, and Germany to the east.-History:Drenthe, unlike many other parts of the Netherlands, has been a...

, in the northern Netherlands. That December, driven by loneliness, he went to stay with his parents who had been posted to Nuenen
Nuenen
Nuenen is a town in the municipality of Nuenen, Gerwen en Nederwetten, in the Netherlands.Vincent Van Gogh resided in Nuenen from 1883-1885. During that time he painted many character studies of peasants and weavers that culminated in The Potato Eaters...

, North Brabant.

Nuenen and Antwerp (1883–1886)



In Nuenen, he devoted himself to drawing, and he gave money to boys to bring him birds' nests for subject matter for paintings,Johannes de Looyer, Karel van Engeland, Hendricus Dekkers, and Piet van Hoorn all as old men recalled being paid 5, 10 or 50 cents per nest, depending on the type of bird. See Theo's son's Webexhibits.org and he made many sketches and paintings of weavers in their cottages. In autumn 1884, Margot Begemann, a neighbor's daughter and ten years his senior, often joined him on his painting forays. She fell in love, and he reciprocated—though less enthusiastically. They decided to marry, but the idea was opposed by both families. As a result, Margot took an overdose of strychnine
Strychnine
Strychnine is a highly toxic , colorless crystalline alkaloid used as a pesticide, particularly for killing small vertebrates such as birds and rodents. Strychnine causes muscular convulsions and eventually death through asphyxia or sheer exhaustion...

. She was saved when van Gogh rushed her to a nearby hospital. On 26 March 1885, his father died of a heart attack and he grieved deeply at the loss.
For the first time, there was interest from Paris in his work. That spring, he completed what is generally considered his first major work, The Potato Eaters
The Potato Eaters
The Potato Eaters is a painting by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh which he painted in April 1885 while in Nuenen, Netherlands. It is housed in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam...

, the culmination of several years work painting peasant character studies
Peasant Character Studies (Van Gogh series)
Peasant Character Studies is a series of works that Vincent van Gogh made between 1881 and 1885.Van Gogh had a particular attachment and sympathy for the working class fueled in several ways. He was particularly fond of the peasant genre work of Jean-François Millet and others. He found the...

. In August 1885, his work was exhibited for the first time, in the windows of a paint dealer, Leurs, in The Hague. When he was accused of forcing himself on one of his young peasant sitters Gordina de Groot who became pregnant that September,The girl was Gordina de Groot, who died in 1927; she claimed the child's father was not van Gogh, but a relative. the Catholic village priest forbade parishioners from modeling for him. During 1885, he painted several groups of still-life paintings.

From this period, Still-Life with Straw Hat and Pipe
Still Life with Straw Hat
Still Life with Straw Hat also known as Still Life with Yellow Straw Hat and Still Life with Hat and Pipe was painted by Vincent van Gogh in late November - mid-December 1881 or possibly in 1885 in the town of Nuenen.-Van Gogh in Nuenen:...

and Still-life with Earthen Pot and Clogs are characterized by smooth, meticulous brushwork and fine shading of colors. During his two-year stay in Nuenen, he completed numerous drawings and watercolors and nearly 200 oil paintings. His palette consisted mainly of somber earth tone
Earth tone
Earth tone is a color scheme that draws from a color palette of browns, tans, greys, greens, oranges, whites, and some reds. The colors in an earth tone scheme are muted and flat in an emulation of the natural colors found in soil, moss, trees and rocks. Many earth tones originate from clay earth...

s, particularly dark brown, and he showed no sign of developing the vivid coloration that distinguishes his later, best-known work. When he complained that Theo was not making enough effort to sell his paintings in Paris, his brother wrote back, telling him that the paintings were too dark and not in line with the current style of bright Impressionist paintings.

In November 1885, he moved to Antwerp and rented a small room above a paint dealer's shop in the Rue des Images (Lange Beeldekensstraat). He had little money and ate poorly, preferring to spend the money Theo sent on painting materials and models. Bread, coffee and tobacco were his staple intake. In February 1886, he wrote to Theo saying that he could only remember eating six hot meals since May of the previous year. His teeth became loose and painful. While in Antwerp he applied himself to the study of color theory
Color theory
In the visual arts, color theory is a body of practical guidance to color mixing and the visual impacts of specific color combinations. Although color theory principles first appeared in the writings of Leone Battista Alberti and the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci , a tradition of "colory theory"...

 and spent time in museums, particularly studying the work of Peter Paul Rubens, gaining encouragement to broaden his palette to carmine
Carmine
Carmine , also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red #4, C.I. 75470, or E120, is a pigment of a bright-red color obtained from the aluminum salt of carminic acid, which is produced by some scale insects, such as the cochineal beetle and the Polish cochineal, and is used as a general term for...

, cobalt
Cobalt blue
Cobalt blue is a cool, slightly desaturated blue color, historically made using cobalt salts of alumina. It is used in certain ceramics and painting; the different cobalt pigment smalt, based on silica, is more often used directly in tinted transparent glasses...

 and emerald green
Paris Green
Paris Green is an inorganic compound more precisely known as copper acetoarsenite. It is a highly toxic emerald-green crystalline powder that has been used as a rodenticide and insecticide, and also as a pigment, despite its toxicity. It is also used as a blue colorant for fireworks...

. He bought a number of Japanese Ukiyo-e
Ukiyo-e
' is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre, and pleasure quarters...

 woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

s in the docklands, and incorporated their style into the background of a number of his paintings. While in Antwerp, van Gogh began to drink absinthe
Absinthe
Absinthe is historically described as a distilled, highly alcoholic beverage. It is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, commonly referred to as "grande wormwood", together with green anise and sweet fennel...

 heavily. He was treated by Dr. Amadeus Cavenaile, whose practice was near the docklands,Vincent's doctor was Hubertus Amadeus Cavenaile. Wilkie, 143–146 possibly for syphilis
Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...

;Arnold, 77. The evidence for syphilis is thin, coming solely from interviews with the grandson of the doctor; see Tralbaut (1981), 177–178 the treatment of alum irrigation and sitz bath
Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy, formerly called hydropathy, involves the use of water for pain-relief and treating illness. The term hydrotherapy itself is synonymous with the term water cure as it was originally marketed by practitioners and promoters in the 19th century...

s was jotted down by van Gogh in one of his notebooks. Despite his rejection of academic teaching, he took the higher-level admission exams at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, and in January 1886, matriculated in painting and drawing. For most of February, he was ill and run down by overwork, a poor diet and excessive smoking.His 1885 painting Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette, is an apt commentary on his smoking

Paris (1886–1888)


Van Gogh traveled to Paris in March 1886, where he shared Theo's Rue Laval apartment on Montmartre
Montmartre
Montmartre is a hill which is 130 metres high, giving its name to the surrounding district, in the north of Paris in the 18th arrondissement, a part of the Right Bank. Montmartre is primarily known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur on its summit and as a nightclub district...

, to study at Fernand Cormon
Fernand Cormon
Fernand Cormon was a French painter born in Paris. He became a pupil of Alexandre Cabanel, Eugène Fromentin, and Jean-François Portaels, and one of the leading historical painters of modern France....

's studio. In June, they took a larger apartment further uphill, at 54 Rue Lepic. Because the brothers had no need to write letters to communicate, little is known about van Gogh's stay in Paris, and less is known about this time than earlier or later periods of his life. In Paris he painted portraits of friends and acquaintances
Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin
Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin was painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1887. Agostina owned the café that Van Gogh knew intimately. It was a gathering spot for Parisian artists, a place where their work was exhibited. Van Gogh, unable to pay in cash for his meals, exchanged...

, still-life paintings, views of Le Moulin de la Galette
Le Moulin de la Galette (Van Gogh series)
Le Moulin de la Galette is the subject and title of several paintings made by Vincent van Gogh in 1886 of a windmill. The Moulin de la Galette was near Van Gogh's apartment with his brother, Theo in Montmartre. The owners of the windmill maximized the view on a butte overlooking Paris, creating...

, scenes in Montmartre
Montmartre (Van Gogh series)
The Montmartre paintings are a group of works that Vincent van Gogh made in 1886 and 1887 of the Paris district of Montmartre while living there with his brother Theo. Rather than capture urban settings in Paris, Van Gogh preferred pastoral scenes, such as Montmartre and Asnières in the northwest...

, Asnières
Asnières (Van Gogh series)
Asnières , now named Asnières-sur-Seine, is the subject and location of paintings that Vincent van Gogh made in 1887. The works, which include parks, restaurants, riverside settings and factories, mark a break-through in Van Gogh's artistic development...

, and along the Seine
Seine (Van Gogh series)
-Paris:In 1886 Van Gogh left Holland for Paris never to return. His brother Theo, a successful Parisian art dealer, provided Van Gogh the support and connections for an immersion in modern art.Starting March, 1886 Van Gogh studied with Fernand Cormon...

.

During his stay in Paris, he collected more Japanese ukiyo-e
Ukiyo-e
' is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre, and pleasure quarters...

 woodblock prints
Woodblock printing
Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper....

; he became interested in such works
Japonaiserie (van Gogh)
Japonaiserie was the term the Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh used to express the influence of Japanese art.Before 1854 trade with Japan was confined to a Dutch monopoly and Japanese goods imported into Europe were for the most part confined to porcelain and lacquer ware...

, when in 1885 in Antwerp he used them to decorate the walls of his studio. He collected hundreds of prints, which are visible in the backgrounds of several of his paintings. In his 1887 Portrait of Père Tanguy
Portrait of Père Tanguy
Portrait of Père Tanguy, painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1887, is one of his three paintings of Julien Tanguy. The three works demonstrate a progression in Van Gogh's artistic style after his arrival in Paris. The first is somber, and formed from a simple composition. The second introduces Van...

several can be seen hanging on the wall behind the main figure. In The Courtesan or Oiran (after Kesai Eisen) (1887), van Gogh traced the figure from a reproduction on the cover of the magazine Paris Illustre, which he then graphically enlarged in the painting. His 1888 Plum Tree in Blossom (After Hiroshige) is a vivid example of the admiration he had for the prints he collected. His version is slightly bolder than Hiroshige
Hiroshige
was a Japanese ukiyo-e artist, and one of the last great artists in that tradition. He was also referred to as Andō Hiroshige and by the art name of Ichiyūsai Hiroshige ....

's original.

After seeing Adolphe Joseph Thomas Monticelli
Adolphe Joseph Thomas Monticelli
Adolphe Joseph Thomas Monticelli was a French painter of the generation preceding the Impressionists.-Biography:Monticelli was born in Marseille in humble circumstances...

's work at the Galerie Delareybarette, which he admired, van Gogh immediately adopted a brighter palette and a bolder attack. particularly in paintings such as his Seascape at Saintes-Maries
Saintes-Maries (Van Gogh series)
Saintes-Maries is the subject of paintings that Vincent van Gogh made in 1888. When Van Gogh lived in Arles, he took a trip to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on the Mediterranean sea, where he made several paintings of the seascape and town....

(1888). Two years later, in 1890, Vincent and Theo paid to have a book about Monticelli published, and van Gogh bought a number of Monticelli's paintings, adding them to his collection.

For months, van Gogh worked at Cormon's studio where he frequented the circle of the British-Australian artist John Peter Russell
John Peter Russell
John Peter Russell was an Australian impressionist painter.-Life and work:John Peter Russell was born at the Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst, the eldest of four children of John Russell, a Scottish engineer, his wife Charlotte Elizabeth, née Nicholl, from London. J. P. Russell was a nephew of Sir...

, and met fellow students like Émile Bernard
Émile Bernard
Émile Henri Bernard is known as a Post-Impressionist painter who had artistic friendships with Van Gogh, Gauguin and Eugene Boch, and at a later time, Cézanne. Most of his notable work was accomplished at a young age, in the years 1886 through 1897. He is also associated with Cloisonnism and...

, Louis Anquetin
Louis Anquetin
Louis Anquetin was a French painter.Anquetin was born in Étrépagny, France and educated at the Lycée Pierre Corneille in Rouen....

, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa or simply Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded an œuvre of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern...

—who painted a portrait of van Gogh with pastel
Pastel
Pastel is an art medium in the form of a stick, consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all colored art media, including oil paints; the binder is of a neutral hue and low saturation....

. The group congregated at Julien "Père" Tanguy
Portrait of Père Tanguy
Portrait of Père Tanguy, painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1887, is one of his three paintings of Julien Tanguy. The three works demonstrate a progression in Van Gogh's artistic style after his arrival in Paris. The first is somber, and formed from a simple composition. The second introduces Van...

's paint store; at that time the only place where Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th...

's paintings were displayed. He had easy access to Impressionist works in Paris at the time. In 1886, two large vanguard exhibitions were staged; shows where Neo-Impressionism
Neo-impressionism
Neo-impressionism was coined by French art critic Félix Fénéon in 1886 to describe an art movement founded by Georges Seurat. Seurat’s greatest masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, marked the beginning of this movement when it first made its appearance at an exhibition...

 was first exhibited and seen, with works by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac
Paul Signac
Paul Signac was a French neo-impressionist painter who, working with Georges Seurat, helped develop the pointillist style.-Biography:Paul Victor Jules Signac was born in Paris on 11 November 1863...

 becoming the talk of the town. Though Theo kept a stock of Impressionist
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

 paintings in his gallery on Boulevard Montmarte—by artists including Claude Monet
Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. . Retrieved 6 January 2007...

, Alfred Sisley
Alfred Sisley
Alfred Sisley was an Impressionist landscape painter who was born and spent most of his life, in France, but retained British citizenship. He was the most consistent of the Impressionists in his dedication to painting landscape en plein air...

, Edgar Degas
Edgar Degas
Edgar Degas[p] , born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas, was a French artist famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist...

 and Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro was a French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter born on the island of St Thomas . His importance resides in his contributions to both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, as he was the only artist to exhibit in both forms...

—van Gogh seemingly had problems acknowledging developments in how artists view and paint their subject matter.

Conflicts arose between the brothers. At the end of 1886 Theo found that living with Vincent was "almost unbearable". By the spring of 1887, they were again at peace, although van Gogh moved to Asnières
Asnières-sur-Seine
Asnières-sur-Seine is a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, France, along the river Seine. It is located from the center of Paris.-Name:...

 a northwestern suburb of Paris, where he became acquainted with Signac. With Émile Bernard
Émile Bernard
Émile Henri Bernard is known as a Post-Impressionist painter who had artistic friendships with Van Gogh, Gauguin and Eugene Boch, and at a later time, Cézanne. Most of his notable work was accomplished at a young age, in the years 1886 through 1897. He is also associated with Cloisonnism and...

 he adopted elements of pointillism
Pointillism
Pointillism is a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of pure color are applied in patterns to form an image. Georges Seurat developed the technique in 1886, branching from Impressionism. The term Pointillism was first coined by art critics in the late 1880s to ridicule the works...

, a technique in which a multitude of small colored dots are applied to the canvas that, when seen from a distance, create an optical blend of hues. The style stresses the value of complementary color
Complementary color
Complementary colors are pairs of colors that are of “opposite” hue in some color model. The exact hue “complementary” to a given hue depends on the model in question, and perceptually uniform, additive, and subtractive color models, for example, have differing complements for any given color.-...

s—including blue and orange—to form vibrant contrasts that are enhanced when juxtaposed. While in Asnières he painted parks and restaurants and the Seine
Seine (Van Gogh series)
-Paris:In 1886 Van Gogh left Holland for Paris never to return. His brother Theo, a successful Parisian art dealer, provided Van Gogh the support and connections for an immersion in modern art.Starting March, 1886 Van Gogh studied with Fernand Cormon...

, including Bridges across the Seine at Asnieres.

In November 1887, Theo and Vincent met and befriended Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin
Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin was a leading French Post-Impressionist artist. He was an important figure in the Symbolist movement as a painter, sculptor, print-maker, ceramist, and writer...

 who had just arrived in Paris. Towards the end of the year, Vincent arranged an exhibition of paintings by himself, Bernard, Anquetin, and probably Toulouse-Lautrec in the Grand-Bouillon Restaurant du Chalet, 43 Avenue de Clichy, in Montmartre. In a contemporary account, Emile Bernard
Émile Bernard
Émile Henri Bernard is known as a Post-Impressionist painter who had artistic friendships with Van Gogh, Gauguin and Eugene Boch, and at a later time, Cézanne. Most of his notable work was accomplished at a young age, in the years 1886 through 1897. He is also associated with Cloisonnism and...

 wrote of the event: "On the avenue de Clichy a new restaurant was opened. Vincent used to eat there. He proposed to the manager that an exhibition be held there .... Canvases by Anquetin, by Lautrec, by Koning ...filled the hall....It really had the impact of something new; it was more modern than anything that was made in Paris at that moment." There Bernard and Anquetin sold their first paintings, and van Gogh exchanged work with Gauguin who soon departed to Pont-Aven
Pont-Aven
Pont-Aven is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in northwestern France.-Population:Inhabitants of Pont-Aven are called in French Pontavenistes.-History:...

. Discussions on art, artists and their social situations that started during this exhibition continued and expanded to include visitors to the show like Pissarro and his son Lucien
Lucien Pissarro
Lucien Pissarro was a landscape painter, printmaker, wood engraver and designer and printer of fine books. His landscape paintings employ techniques of Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism, but he also exhibited with Les XX. Apart from his landscapes he painted only a few still-lifes and family...

, Signac and Seurat. Finally in February 1888, feeling worn out from life in Paris, he left, having painted over 200 paintings during his two years in the city. Only hours before his departure, accompanied by Theo, he paid his first and only visit to Seurat in his atelier (studio).

Move to Arles (1888–1889)


Van Gogh moved to Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

 hoping for refuge; at the time he was ill from drink and suffering from smoker's cough. He arrived on 21 February 1888, and took a room at the Hôtel-Restaurant Carrel, which, idealistically, he had expected to look like one of Hokusai
Hokusai
was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. He was influenced by such painters as Sesshu, and other styles of Chinese painting...

 (1760–1849) or Utamaro
Utamaro
was a Japanese printmaker and painter, who is considered one of the greatest artists of woodblock prints . His name was romanized as Outamaro. He is known especially for his masterfully composed studies of women, known as bijinga...

's (1753–1806) prints. He had moved to the town with thoughts of founding a utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

n art colony
Art colony
right|300px|thumb|Artist houses in [[Montsalvat]] near [[Melbourne, Australia]].An art colony or artists' colony is a place where creative practitioners live and interact with one another. Artists are often invited or selected through a formal process, for a residency from a few weeks to over a year...

, and the Danish artist Christian Mourier-Petersen (1858–1945), became his companion for two months. Arles appeared exotic and filthy to van Gogh. In a letter he described it as a foreign country: "The Zouaves, the brothels, the adorable little Arlesiennes going to their First Communion, the priest in his surplice, who looks like a dangerous rhinocerous, the people drinking absinthe, all seem to me creatures from another world". A hundred years later, van Gogh was remembered by 113-year-old Jeanne Calment
Jeanne Calment
Jeanne Louise Calment was a French supercentenarian who had the longest confirmed human life span in history, living to the age of . She lived in Arles, France, for her entire life, and outlived both her daughter and grandson. She became especially well known from the age of 113, when the...

—who, as a 13 year old, was serving in her uncle's fabric shop where van Gogh wanted to buy some canvas—as "dirty, badly dressed and disagreeable", and "very ugly, ungracious, impolite, sick". She also recalled selling him colored pencils.

He was enchanted by the local landscape and light. His works from the period are richly draped in yellow, ultramarine
Ultramarine
Ultramarine is a blue pigment consisting primarily of a double silicate of aluminium and sodium with some sulfides or sulfates, and occurring in nature as a proximate component of lapis lazuli...

 and mauve
Mauve
Mauve is a pale lavender-lilac color, one of many in the range of purples. The color mauve is named after the mallow flower....

. His portrayals of the Arles landscape are informed by his Dutch upbringing; the patchwork of fields and avenues appear flat and lack perspective
Perspective (visual)
Perspective, in context of vision and visual perception, is the way in which objects appear to the eye based on their spatial attributes; or their dimensions and the position of the eye relative to the objects...

, but excel in their intensity of color. The vibrant light in Arles excited him, and his newfound appreciation is seen in the range and scope of his work. That March he painted local landscapes using a gridded "perspective frame". Three of these paintings were shown at the annual exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants
Société des Artistes Indépendants
—The Société des Artistes Indépendants formed in Paris in summer 1884 choosing the device "No jury nor awards" . Albert Dubois-Pillet, Odilon Redon, Georges Seurat and Paul Signac were among its founders...

. In April, he was visited by the American artist Dodge MacKnight
Dodge MacKnight
Dodge Macknight was an American painter. He was a friend of Vincent van Gogh, and introduced Van Gogh to the Belgian painter Eugène Boch. Macknight lived in Fontvieille at the time that Van Gogh was living in Arles.-Footnotes:...

, who was living nearby at Fontvieille
Fontvieille, Bouches-du-Rhône
Fontvieille is a commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department in southern France.-Population:-Sights:* Alphonse Daudet's windmill* Barbegal aqueduct and mill, a Roman watermill complex located on the territory of the commune-External links:* *...

. On 1 May, he signed a lease for 15 francs
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

 a month in the eastern wing of the Yellow House at No. 2 Place Lamartine. The rooms were unfurnished and uninhabited for some time. He was still at the Hôtel Restaurant Carrel, but the rate charged by the hotel was 5 francs a week, which he found excessive. He disputed the price, took the case to a local arbitrator and was awarded a twelve franc reduction on the total bill.
He moved from the Hôtel Carrel to the Café de la Gare on 7 May, where he became friends with the proprietors, Joseph and Marie Ginoux
L'Arlésienne (painting)
L'Arlésienne, L'Arlésienne , or Portrait of Madame Ginoux is the title given to a group of six similar paintings by Vincent van Gogh, painted in Arles, November 1888 , and in Auvers, February 1890...

. Although the Yellow House had to be furnished before he could fully move in, van Gogh was able to utilize it as a studio. Hoping to have a gallery to display his work, his project at this time was a series of paintings including Van Gogh's Chair (1888), Bedroom in Arles
Bedroom in Arles
Bedroom in Arles is the title given to each of three similar paintings by 19th-century Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh.Van Gogh's own title for this composition was simply The Bedroom...

(1888), The Night Café
The Night Café
The Night Café is an oil painting created in Arles in September 1888, by Vincent van Gogh...

(1888), Cafe Terrace at Night
Cafe Terrace at Night
Café Terrace at Night, also known as The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, is a coloured oil painting executed by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh on an industrially primed canvas of size 25 in Arles, France, mid-September 1888. The painting is not signed, but described and mentioned by the...

(September 1888), Starry Night Over the Rhone
Starry Night Over the Rhone
Starry Night Over the Rhone is one of Vincent van Gogh's paintings of Arles at night; it was painted at a spot on the banks of river which was only a minute or two's walk from the Yellow House on the Place Lamartine which Van Gogh was renting at the time...

(1888), Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers
Sunflowers (series of paintings)
Sunflowers are the subject of two series of still life paintings by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. The earlier series executed in Paris in 1887 gives the flowers lying on the ground, while the second set executed a year later in Arles shows bouquets of sunflowers in a vase...

(1888), all intended to form the décoration for the Yellow House. van Gogh wrote about The Night Café: "I have tried to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad, or commit a crime."

He visited Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is the capital of the Camargue in the south of France. It is a commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department by the Mediterranean Sea. Population: 2,478...

 that June where he gave drawing lessons to a Zouave
Zouave
Zouave was the title given to certain light infantry regiments in the French Army, normally serving in French North Africa between 1831 and 1962. The name was also adopted during the 19th century by units in other armies, especially volunteer regiments raised for service in the American Civil War...

 second lieutenant, Paul-Eugène Milliet 
and painted boats on the sea and the village
Saintes-Maries (Van Gogh series)
Saintes-Maries is the subject of paintings that Vincent van Gogh made in 1888. When Van Gogh lived in Arles, he took a trip to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on the Mediterranean sea, where he made several paintings of the seascape and town....

. MacKnight introduced van Gogh to Eugène Boch
Eugène Boch
Eugène Boch was a Belgian painter, born in Saint-Waast, Nord, Hainaut, and the younger brother of Anna Boch, a founding member of Les XX....

, a Belgian painter who stayed at times in Fontvieille, and the two exchanged visits in July.

Gauguin's visit


When Gauguin agreed to visit Arles, van Gogh hoped for friendship and for his uptopian idea of a collective of artists. While waiting that August he painted sunflowers. When Boch visited again, van Gogh painted a portrait of him, as well as the study The Poet Against a Starry Sky. Boch's sister Anna
Anna Boch
Anna Rosalie Boch was a Belgian painter, born in Saint-Vaast, Hainaut. Anna Boch died in Ixelles in 1936 and is interred there in the Ixelles Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium.-Artistic style:...

 (1848–1936), also an artist, purchased The Red Vineyard
The Red Vineyard
The Red Vineyard is an oil painting by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, executed on a privately-primed Toile de 30 piece of burlap in early November 1888...

in 1890.

In preparation for Gauguin's visit he bought two beds, on advice from his friend the station's postal supervisor Joseph Roulin, whose portrait he painted, and on 17 September spent the first night in the still sparsely furnished Yellow House. When Gauguin consented to work and live side-by-side in Arles with van Gogh, he started to work on The Décoration for the Yellow House
The Décoration for the Yellow House
The Décoration for the Yellow House was the main project Vincent van Gogh focused on in Arles, from August 1888 until his breakdown the day before Christmas. This Décoration had no pre-defined form or size; the central idea of the Décoration grew step by step, with the progress of his work....

, probably the most ambitious effort he ever undertook. van Gogh did two chair paintings: Van Gogh's Chair and Gauguin's Chair.

After repeated requests, Gauguin finally arrived in Arles on 23 October. During November, the two painted together. Gauguin painted van Gogh's portrait The Painter of Sunflowers
The Painter of Sunflowers
The Painter of Sunflowers is a portrait of Vincent van Gogh by Paul Gauguin in December 1888. The portrait was painted when Gauguin visited in Arles. Van Gogh had asked him to come to Arles, because he wanted to start an art-colony there...

: Portrait of Vincent van Gogh,
and uncharacteristically, van Gogh painted some pictures from memory—deferring to Gauguin's ideas in this—as well as his The Red Vineyard. Their first joint outdoor painting exercise produced Les Alyscamps
Les Alyscamps
Les Alyscamps is a pair of paintings by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. Painted in 1888 in Arles, France, it depicts autumnal scenes in the Alyscamps, an ancient Roman necropolis in Arles which is lined with poplars and stone sarcophagi.Van Gogh also made another pair of paintings, Falling Autumn...

, and was conducted at the Alyscamps
Les Alyscamps
Les Alyscamps is a pair of paintings by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. Painted in 1888 in Arles, France, it depicts autumnal scenes in the Alyscamps, an ancient Roman necropolis in Arles which is lined with poplars and stone sarcophagi.Van Gogh also made another pair of paintings, Falling Autumn...

.

The two visited Montpellier
Montpellier
-Neighbourhoods:Since 2001, Montpellier has been divided into seven official neighbourhoods, themselves divided into sub-neighbourhoods. Each of them possesses a neighbourhood council....

 that December and viewed works in the Alfred Bruyas
Alfred Bruyas
Alfred Bruyas was an art collector and a personal friend of many important artists of his time, among them Gustave Courbet. He donated his collection to the Musée Fabre, in Montpellier....

 collection by Courbet
Gustave Courbet
Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting. The Realist movement bridged the Romantic movement , with the Barbizon School and the Impressionists...

 and Delacroix
Eugène Delacroix
Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school...

 in the Musée Fabre
Musée Fabre
The Musée Fabre is a museum in the southern French city of Montpellier, capital of the Hérault département.The museum was founded by François-Xavier Fabre, a Montpellier painter, in 1825. Beginning in 2003, the museum underwent a 61.2 million euro renovation, which was completed in January 2007...

, but their relationship began to deteriorate. Van Gogh greatly admired Gauguin, and desperately wanted to be treated as his equal. But Gauguin was arrogant and domineering, a fact that often frustrated the Dutchman. They quarreled fiercely about art; van Gogh felt an increasing fear that Gauguin was going to desert him, as a situation he described as one of "excessive tension" reached crisis point.

On 23 December 1888, frustrated and ill, van Gogh confronted Gauguin with a razor blade, but in panic, left and fled to a local brothel. Deeply lonely at the time, he often visited the prostitutes at a brothel on Rue du Bout d'Aeles as his single emotional and sensuous point of contact with other people. While there, he cut off his left ear, though it is often claimed that it was "only" the lower part of his left earlobe.According to Doiteau & Leroy, the diagonal cut removed the lobe and probably a little more. He wrapped the severed ear in newspaper and handed it to a prostitute named Rachel, asking her to "keep this object carefully." He staggered home, where he was later found by Gauguin lying unconscious with his head covered in blood.

Van Gogh was taken to a hospital
Hospital in Arles (Van Gogh series)
Hospital at Arles is the subject of two paintings that Vincent van Gogh made of the hospital in which he stayed in December 1888 and again in January 1889. The hospital is located in Arles in southern France...

 and remained in a critical state for several days. He asked for Gauguin continually over the next number of days, but the Frenchman stayed away. Gauguin told one of the policeman attending the case, "Be kind enough, Monsieur, to awaken this man with great care, and if he asks for me tell him I have left for Paris; the sight of me might prove fatal for him." Gauguin wrote of van Gogh, "His state is worse, he wants to sleep with the patients, chase the nurses, and washes himself in the coal bucket. That is to say, he continues the biblical mortifications." Theo—notified by Gauguin—visited, as did both Madame Ginoux and Roulin. Gauguin left Arles and never saw van Gogh again.They continued to correspond and in 1890 Gauguin proposed they form an artist studio in Antwerp. See Pickvance (1986), 62 In January 1889, van Gogh returned to the Yellow House, but spent the following month between the hospital and home, suffering from hallucination
Hallucination
A hallucination, in the broadest sense of the word, is a perception in the absence of a stimulus. In a stricter sense, hallucinations are defined as perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli which have qualities of real perception, in that they are vivid,...

s and delusion
Delusion
A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence. Unlike hallucinations, delusions are always pathological...

s that he was being poisoned. In March, the police closed his house after a petition by 30 townspeople, who called him "fou roux" (the redheaded madman). Paul Signac visited him in the hospital and van Gogh was allowed home in his company. In April, he moved into rooms owned by Dr. Rey, after floods damaged paintings in his own home. Around this time, he wrote, "Sometimes moods of indescribable anguish, sometimes moments when the veil of time and fatality of circumstances seemed to be torn apart for an instant." Two months later he had left Arles and entered an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department in southern France.-Geography:...

.

Saint-Rémy (May 1889 – May 1890)


On 8 May 1889, accompanied by his carer, the Reverend Salles, he committed himself to the hospital at Saint Paul-de-Mausole
Saint-Paul Asylum, Saint-Rémy (Van Gogh series)
Saint-Paul Asylum, Saint-Rémy is a collection of paintings that Vincent van Gogh did when he was a self-admitted patient at the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy from May 1889 until May 1890...

. A former monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 in Saint-Rémy
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department in southern France.-Geography:...

 less than 20 miles (32.2 km) from Arles, the monastery is located in an area of cornfields, vineyard
Vineyard
A vineyard is a plantation of grape-bearing vines, grown mainly for winemaking, but also raisins, table grapes and non-alcoholic grape juice...

s and olive trees at the time run by a former naval doctor, Dr. Théophile Peyron
Théophile Peyron
Doctor Théophile Peyron was a French naval doctor, who ran the mental hospital of Saint-Paul-de Mausole in a former monastery just outside of Saint Rémy de Provence. Vincent van Gogh was one of his patients....

. Theo arranged for two small rooms—adjoining cells with barred windows. The second was to be used as a studio.

During his stay, the clinic and its garden became the main subjects of his paintings. He made several studies of the hospital interiors, such as Vestibule of the Asylum and Saint-Remy (September 1889). Some of the work from this time is characterized by swirls—including one of his best-known paintings The Starry Night
The Starry Night
The Starry Night is a painting by Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh. The painting depicts the view outside his sanitarium room window at night, although it was painted from memory during the day. Since 1941 it has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New...

. He was allowed short supervised walks, which lead to paintings of cypresses
Cupressus
The genus Cupressus is one of several genera within the family Cupressaceae that have the common name cypress; for the others, see cypress. It is considered a polyphyletic group...

 and olive trees, like Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background 1889,
Olive Trees (Van Gogh series)
Vincent van Gogh painted at least 18 paintings of olive trees, mostly in Saint-Rémy in 1889. At his own request, he lived at an asylum there from May 1889 through May 1890 painting the gardens of the asylum and, when he had permission to venture outside its walls, nearby olive trees, cypresses and...

 Cypresses 1889, Cornfield with Cypresses (1889), Country road in Provence by Night (1890). Limited access to the world outside the clinic resulted in a shortage of subject matter. He was left to work on interpretations of other artist's paintings, such as Millet’s The Sower and Noon – Rest from Work (after Millet), as well as variations on his own earlier work. Van Gogh was an admirer of the Realism of Jules Breton, Gustave Courbet
Gustave Courbet
Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting. The Realist movement bridged the Romantic movement , with the Barbizon School and the Impressionists...

 and Millet
Jean-François Millet
Jean-François Millet was a French painter and one of the founders of the Barbizon school in rural France...

 and compared his copies to a musician's interpreting Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

. Many of his most compelling works date from this period. His The Round of the Prisoners, (1890) was painted after an engraving
Engraving
Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

 by Gustave Doré
Gustave Doré
Paul Gustave Doré was a French artist, engraver, illustrator and sculptor. Doré worked primarily with wood engraving and steel engraving.-Biography:...

 (1832–1883); the face of the prisoner in the center of the painting and looking toward the viewer is van Gogh.
That September he produced a further two versions of Bedroom in Arles
Bedroom in Arles
Bedroom in Arles is the title given to each of three similar paintings by 19th-century Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh.Van Gogh's own title for this composition was simply The Bedroom...

, and in February 1890 painted four portraits of L'Arlésienne
L'Arlésienne (painting)
L'Arlésienne, L'Arlésienne , or Portrait of Madame Ginoux is the title given to a group of six similar paintings by Vincent van Gogh, painted in Arles, November 1888 , and in Auvers, February 1890...

 (Madame Ginoux)
, based on a charcoal
Charcoal
Charcoal is the dark grey residue consisting of carbon, and any remaining ash, obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen...

 sketch
Sketch (drawing)
A sketch is a rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not usually intended as a finished work...

 Gauguin had produced when Madame Ginoux sat for both artists at the beginning of November 1888. His work was praised by Albert Aurier
Albert Aurier
G. Albert Aurier was a poet, art critic and painter, devoted to Symbolism.Son of a notary born in Châteauroux, Indre, Aurier went to Paris in 1883 to study law, but soon his attention was drawn to art and literature, and he began to contribute to Symolist periodicals...

 in the Mercure de France
Mercure de France
The Mercure de France was originally a French gazette and literary magazine first published in the 17th century, but after several incarnations has evolved as a publisher, and is now part of the Éditions Gallimard publishing group....

in January 1890, when he was described as "a genius". In February invited by Les XX
Les XX
Les XX was a group of twenty Belgian painters, designers and sculptors, formed in 1883 by the Brussels lawyer, publisher, and entrepreneur Octave Maus. For ten years 'Les Vingt' , as they called themselves, held an annual exhibition of their art; each year twenty international artists were also...

, a society of avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 painters in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, he participated in their annual exhibition
Vincent van Gogh's display at Les XX, 1890
Vincent van Gogh's display at Les XX, 1890, in Brussels is an important testament to the recognition he received amongst avant-garde peers during his own lifetime. Participation in the annual exhibition of Les XX was for members and by invitation only...

. At the opening dinner, Les XX member Henry de Groux insulted van Gogh's works. Toulouse-Lautrec demanded satisfaction, and Signac declared he would continue to fight for van Gogh's honor if Lautrec should surrender. Later, when van Gogh's exhibit was on display with the Artistes Indépendants in Paris, Monet
Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. . Retrieved 6 January 2007...

 said that his work was the best in the show. In February 1890, following the birth of his nephew Vincent Willem, he wrote in a letter to his mother, that with the new addition to the family, he "started right away to make a picture for him, to hang in their bedroom, branches of white almond blossom
Almond Blossoms (Van Gogh series)
Almond Blossoms is a group of several paintings made in 1888 and 1890 by Vincent van Gogh in Arles and Saint-Rémy, southern France of blossoming almond trees. Flowering trees were special to Van Gogh. They represented awakening and hope. He enjoyed them aesthetically and found joy in painting...

 against a blue sky."

Auvers-sur-Oise (May–July 1890)



In May 1890, van Gogh left the clinic in Saint-Rémy to move nearer the physician Dr. Paul Gachet
Paul Gachet
Paul-Ferdinand Gachet was a French physician most famous for treating the painter Vincent van Gogh during his last weeks in Auvers-sur-Oise. Gachet was a great supporter of artists and the Impressionist movement...

 in Auvers-sur-Oise
Auvers-sur-Oise
Auvers-sur-Oise is a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the centre of Paris. It is associated with several famous artists, the most prominent being Vincent van Gogh.-History:...

, and also to Theo. Gachet was recommended by Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro was a French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter born on the island of St Thomas . His importance resides in his contributions to both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, as he was the only artist to exhibit in both forms...

, had treated several other artists, and was himself an amateur artist. Van Gogh's first impression was that Gachet was "...sicker than I am, I think, or shall we say just as much." In June 1890 he painted a number of portraits of the physician, including Portrait of Dr. Gachet
Portrait of Dr. Gachet
Portrait of Dr. Gachet is one of the most revered paintings by Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. It depicts Dr. Paul Gachet, who took care of him during the final months of his life...

, and his only etching
Etching
Etching is the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal...

; in each the emphasis is on Gachet's melancholic disposition. Van Gogh stayed at the Auberge Ravoux
Auberge Ravoux
The Auberge Ravoux is a French historic landmark located in the heart of the village of Auvers-sur-Oise. It is known as the House of Van Gogh because the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh spent the last 70 days of his life as a lodger at the auberge...

, where he paid 3 franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

s and 50 centime
Centime
Centime is French for "cent", and is used in English as the name of the fraction currency in several Francophone countries ....

s to rent an attic room measuring 75 square feet (7 m²).
Before he left, In his last weeks at Saint-Rémy, van Gogh's thoughts returned to his "memories of the North", and several of the approximately 70 oils he painted during his 70 days in Auvers-sur-Oise, such as The Church at Auvers
The Church at Auvers
The Church at Auvers was painted by Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh in 1890.-History:...

, are reminiscent of northern scenes.

Wheat Field with Crows
Wheat Field with Crows
Wheatfield with Crows is a July 1890 painting by Vincent van Gogh. It is commonly but mistakenly stated that this was Van Gogh's last painting...

(July 1890) is an example of the double square
Double-squares and Squares
Double-square paintings have uncommonly large canvases, for example such as those Vincent van Gogh used exclusively during the final weeks of his life in Auvers, in June and July 1890. To arrive at this size, Van Gogh simply had to combine the legs of two standard sizes: the 50 cm leg from a size...

 technique he developed in the last weeks of his life. In its turbulent intensity, it is among his most haunting and elemental works. It is often mistakenly believed to be his last work, but van Gogh scholar Jan Hulsker
Jan Hulsker
Jan Hulsker studied Dutch literature in Leiden and was promoted with a thesis on the author Aart van der Leeuw....

 lists seven paintings that postdate it.

Barbizon
Barbizon school
The Barbizon school of painters were part of a movement towards realism in art, which arose in the context of the dominant Romantic Movement of the time. The Barbizon school was active roughly from 1830 through 1870...

 painter Charles Daubigny
Charles-François Daubigny
Charles-François Daubigny was one of the painters of the Barbizon school, and is considered an important precursor of Impressionism....

 had moved to Auvers in 1861, and this in turn drew other artists there, including Camille Corot
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was a French landscape painter and printmaker in etching. Corot was the leading painter of the Barbizon school of France in the mid-nineteenth century...

 and Honoré Daumier
Honoré Daumier
Honoré Daumier was a French printmaker, caricaturist, painter, and sculptor, whose many works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th century....

. In July 1890, van Gogh completed two paintings of Daubigny's Garden; one of these is likely to be his final work. There are also paintings that show evidence of being unfinished, including Thatched Cottages by a Hill.

Death


Shortly after being released from the hospital, van Gogh suffered a severe setback in December 1889 when his bouts of illness became more pronounced, followed in February 1890 by another "crisis that was worse than all the preceding ones." Although he had been troubled by illness throughout his adult life, the episodes were more serious during his last few years. Sometimes he was either unwilling or unable to paint, a factor that may have added to the mounting frustrations of an artist at the peak of his ability. Art critic Robert Hughes
Robert Hughes (critic)
Robert Studley Forrest Hughes, AO is an Australian-born art critic, writer and television documentary maker who has resided in New York since 1970.-Early life:...

 writes that from May 1889 to May 1890 he, "had fits of despair and hallucination during which he could not work, and in between them, long clear months in which he could and did, punctuated by extreme visionary ecstasy."

It is widely understood that on 27 July 1890, aged 37, van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver. Where he was when he shot himself is unclear. Ingo Walther writes that "Some think van Gogh shot himself in the wheat field that had engaged his attention as an artist of late; others think he did it at a barn near the inn." Biographer David Sweetman
David Sweetman
David Sweetman was a British writer, critic, teacher and broadcaster.-Early life:...

 writes that the bullet was deflected by a rib bone and passed through his chest without doing apparent damage to internal organs, probably stopped by his spine. He was able to walk back to the Auberge Ravoux
Auberge Ravoux
The Auberge Ravoux is a French historic landmark located in the heart of the village of Auvers-sur-Oise. It is known as the House of Van Gogh because the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh spent the last 70 days of his life as a lodger at the auberge...

. He was attended by two physicians, neither with the capability to perform surgery to remove the bullet, who left him alone in his room, smoking his pipe. The following morning (Monday), as soon as he was notified, Theo rushed to be with Vincent, to find him in surprisingly good shape; within hours, however, he began to fail, the result of untreated infection in the wound. Vincent died in the evening, 29 hours after he shot himself. Theo reported his brother's last words as "The sadness will last forever."

Van Gogh was buried on 30 July in the municipal cemetery of Auvers-sur-Oise at a funeral attended by Theo van Gogh
Theo van Gogh (art dealer)
Theodorus "Theo" van Gogh was a Dutch art dealer. He was the younger brother of Vincent van Gogh, and Theo's unfailing financial and emotional support allowed his brother to devote himself entirely to painting...

, Andries Bonger
Andries Bonger
Andries Bonger, nicknamed "Dries", was Johanna van Gogh-Bonger's favorite brother. Bonger was a friend of his future brother-in-law Theo van Gogh in Paris. Through Andries, Jo and Theo met...

, Charles Laval
Charles Laval
Charles Laval was a French painter born March 17, 1862 in Paris and who died April 27, 1894. He is associated with the Synthetic movement and Pont-Aven School, and he was a contemporary and friend of Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. Gauguin created a portrait of him in 1886 looking at one of...

, Lucien Pissarro
Lucien Pissarro
Lucien Pissarro was a landscape painter, printmaker, wood engraver and designer and printer of fine books. His landscape paintings employ techniques of Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism, but he also exhibited with Les XX. Apart from his landscapes he painted only a few still-lifes and family...

, Émile Bernard
Émile Bernard
Émile Henri Bernard is known as a Post-Impressionist painter who had artistic friendships with Van Gogh, Gauguin and Eugene Boch, and at a later time, Cézanne. Most of his notable work was accomplished at a young age, in the years 1886 through 1897. He is also associated with Cloisonnism and...

, Julien Tanguy
Portrait of Père Tanguy
Portrait of Père Tanguy, painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1887, is one of his three paintings of Julien Tanguy. The three works demonstrate a progression in Van Gogh's artistic style after his arrival in Paris. The first is somber, and formed from a simple composition. The second introduces Van...

 and Dr. Gachet
Paul Gachet
Paul-Ferdinand Gachet was a French physician most famous for treating the painter Vincent van Gogh during his last weeks in Auvers-sur-Oise. Gachet was a great supporter of artists and the Impressionist movement...

 amongst some 20 family and friends, as well as a number of locals. The funeral was described by Émile Bernard in a letter to Albert Aurier
Albert Aurier
G. Albert Aurier was a poet, art critic and painter, devoted to Symbolism.Son of a notary born in Châteauroux, Indre, Aurier went to Paris in 1883 to study law, but soon his attention was drawn to art and literature, and he began to contribute to Symolist periodicals...

. Theo suffered from syphilis
Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...

 and his health declined rapidly after Vincent's death. Weak and unable to come to terms with Vincent's absence, he died six months later, on 25 January, at Den Dolder. The original burial plot was leased for 15 years; the intention was to bury Vincent alongside Theo. Vincent's remains were exhumed on 13 June 1905, in the presence of Jo Bonger, Dr. Gachet and others, and relocated, eventually for Theo to be buried beside him. The precise location of the original grave is no longer known. In 1914, the year she had van Gogh's letters published, Jo Bonger had Theo moved from Utrecht and reburied with Vincent.

While many of Vincent's late paintings are somber, they are essentially optimistic and reflect his desire to return to lucid mental health right up to the time of his death. Yet some of his final works reflect his deepening concerns. Referring to his paintings of wheatfields under troubled skies, he commented in a letter to his brother Theo: "I did not have to go out of my way very much in order to try to express sadness and extreme loneliness." In particular, the work Wheatfield with Crows serves as a compelling and poignant expression of the artist's state of mind in his final days, a painting Hulsker describes as "somber and hopeless," painted by a "desperate" artist.

There has been much debate over the years as to the source of van Gogh's illness and its effect on his work. Over 150 psychiatrist
Psychiatrist
A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. All psychiatrists are trained in diagnostic evaluation and in psychotherapy...

s have attempted to label its root, with some 30 different diagnoses. Diagnoses include schizophrenia
Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

, bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder or bipolar affective disorder, historically known as manic–depressive disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or...

, syphilis
Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...

, poisoning from swallowed paints, temporal lobe epilepsy
Temporal lobe epilepsy
Temporal lobe epilepsy a.k.a. Psychomotor epilepsy, is a form of focal epilepsy, a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures. Over 40 types of epilepsies are known. They fall into two main categories: partial-onset epilepsies and generalized-onset epilepsies...

 and acute intermittent porphyria
Acute intermittent porphyria
Acute intermittent porphyria is a rare autosomal dominant metabolic disorder affecting the production of heme, the oxygen-binding prosthetic group of hemoglobin. It is characterized by a deficiency of the enzyme porphobilinogen deaminase. Acute intermittent porphyria is the second most common...

. Any of these could have been the culprit and been aggravated by malnutrition, overwork, insomnia and consumption of alcohol, especially absinthe
Absinthe
Absinthe is historically described as a distilled, highly alcoholic beverage. It is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, commonly referred to as "grande wormwood", together with green anise and sweet fennel...

.

In Van Gogh: the Life, a biography published in 2011, authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith argue that van Gogh did not commit suicide. They contend that he was shot accidentally by two boys he knew who had “a malfunctioning gun”. However experts at the Van Gogh Museum remain unconvinced.

Work


Van Gogh drew and painted with watercolors
Watercolor painting
Watercolor or watercolour , also aquarelle from French, is a painting method. A watercolor is the medium or the resulting artwork in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-soluble vehicle...

 while at school; few of these works survive and authorship is challenged on some of those that do. When he committed to art as an adult, he began at an elementary level, copying the Cours de dessin, a drawing course edited by Charles Bargue
Charles Bargue
Charles Bargue was a French artist, a lithographer as well as a painter, who devised a drawing course.-Life and career:...

. Within two years he had begun to seek commissions. In spring 1882, his uncle, Cornelis Marinus, owner of a well-known gallery of contemporary art in Amsterdam, asked him for drawings of the Hague. Van Gogh's work did not live up to his uncle's expectations. Marinus offered a second commission, this time specifying the subject matter in detail, but was once again disappointed with the result. Nevertheless, van Gogh persevered. He improved the lighting of his studio by installing variable shutters and experimented with a variety of drawing materials. For more than a year he worked on single figures—highly elaborated studies in "Black and White", which at the time gained him only criticism. Today, they are recognized as his first masterpieces.

Early in 1883, he began to work on multi-figure compositions, which he based on his drawings. He had some of them photographed, but when his brother remarked that they lacked liveliness and freshness, he destroyed them and turned to oil painting. By Autumn 1882, his brother had enabled him financially to turn out his first paintings, but all the money Theo could supply was soon spent. Then, in spring 1883, van Gogh turned to renowned Hague School
Hague School
The Hague School is the name given to a group of artists who lived and worked in The Hague between 1860 and 1890. Their work was heavily influenced by the realist painters of the French Barbizon school. The painters of the Hague school generally made use of relatively sombre colours, which is why...

 artists like Weissenbruch
Johan Hendrik Weissenbruch
Hendrik Johannes Weissenbruch was a Dutch painter of the Hague School....

 and Blommers
Bernard Blommers
Bernardus Johannes Blommers was a Dutch etcher and painter of the Hague School....

, and received technical support from them, as well as from painters like De Bock
Théophile de Bock
Théophile Emile Achille de Bock was a Dutch painter belonging to the Hague School....

 and Van der Weele
Herman Johannes van der Weele
Herman Johannes van der Weele was a Dutch painter of the second generation of the Hague School....

, both second generation Hague School artists. When he moved to Nuenen after the intermezzo in Drenthe he began a number of large-sized paintings but destroyed most of them. The Potato Eaters
The Potato Eaters
The Potato Eaters is a painting by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh which he painted in April 1885 while in Nuenen, Netherlands. It is housed in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam...

and its companion pieces—The Old Tower on the Nuenen cemetery and The Cottage—are the only ones to have survived. Many paintings and drawings from this and earlier periods were lost
Lost works by Vincent van Gogh
The events that befell the early paintings and drawings by Vincent van Gogh in the period prior to the posthumous recognition of Vincent van Gogh as an innovative artist show how the appreciation of his legacy changed his reputation in a relatively short time...

 when his family moved from Nuenen to Breda in March 1886 and stored Vincent's belongings in an attic. Following a visit to the Rijksmuseum
Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam or simply Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum in Amsterdam, located on the Museumplein. The museum is dedicated to arts, crafts, and history. It has a large collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and a substantial collection of Asian art...

, Van Gogh was aware that many of his faults were due to lack of technical experience. So in November 1885 he traveled to Antwerp and later to Paris to learn and develop his skill.

More or less acquainted with Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist techniques and theories, van Gogh went to Arles to develop these new possibilities. But within a short time, older ideas on art and work reappeared: ideas such as working with serial imagery
Serial imagery
Serial imagery is a central idea of modern and contemporary art. The Impressionists and their contemporaries were the first to use it, for example Claude Monet in his Poplars, Haystacks or Rouen Cathedral....

 on related or contrasting subject matter, which would reflect on the purposes of art. As his work progressed, he painted many Self-portraits
Self-Portraits by Vincent van Gogh
The dozens of self-portraits by Vincent van Gogh were an important part of his oeuvre as a painter. Vincent van Gogh created many self-portraits during his lifetime. Most probably, Van Gogh's self portraits are depicting the face as it appeared in the mirror he used to reproduce his face, i.e...

. Already in 1884 in Nuenen he had worked on a series that was to decorate the dining room of a friend in Eindhoven. Similarly in Arles, in spring 1888 he arranged his Flowering Orchards into triptychs, began a series of figures that found its end in The Roulin Family series, and finally, when Gauguin had consented to work and live in Arles side-by-side with Van Gogh, he started to work on The Décorations for the Yellow House
The Décoration for the Yellow House
The Décoration for the Yellow House was the main project Vincent van Gogh focused on in Arles, from August 1888 until his breakdown the day before Christmas. This Décoration had no pre-defined form or size; the central idea of the Décoration grew step by step, with the progress of his work....

, which was by some accounts the most ambitious effort he ever undertook. Most of his later work is involved with elaborating on or revising its fundamental settings. In the spring of 1889, he painted another, smaller group of orchards. In an April letter to Theo, he said, "I have 6 studies of Spring, two of them large orchards. There is little time because these effects are so short-lived."

Art historian Albert Boime
Albert Boime
Albert Boime was a scholar and author on art history who was a professor of art history at the University of California, Los Angeles for three decades, until his death.-Early life:...

 believes that van Gogh—even in seemingly fantastical compositions like Starry Night—based his work in reality. The White House at Night
White House at Night
White House at Night is an oil painting created on 16 June 1890 at around 8:00 PM by Vincent van Gogh, in the small town of Auvers-sur-Oise, six weeks before his death. The exact time is known due to the position of planet Venus in the painting...

, shows a house at twilight with a prominent star surrounded by a yellow halo in the sky. Astronomers at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos calculated that the star is Venus, which was bright in the evening sky in June 1890 when Van Gogh is believed to have painted the picture.

Self portraits


Van Gogh created many self-portraits during his lifetime. He was a prolific self-portraitist, who painted himself 37 times between 1886 and 1889. In all, the gaze of the painter is seldom directed at us; even when it is a fixed gaze, he appears to look elsewhere. The paintings vary in intensity and color and some portray the artist with beard, some beardless, some with bandages—depicting the episode in which he severed his ear. Self-portrait Without Beard, from late September 1889, is one of the most expensive paintings of all time, selling for $71.5 million in 1998 in New York. At the time, it was the third (or an inflation-adjusted fourth) most expensive painting ever sold. It was also van Gogh's last self-portrait, given as a birthday gift to his mother.

All of the self-portraits painted in Saint-Rémy show the artist's head from the right, the side opposite his mutilated ear, as he painted himself reflected in his mirror. During the final weeks of his life in Auvers-sur-Oise
Auvers-sur-Oise
Auvers-sur-Oise is a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the centre of Paris. It is associated with several famous artists, the most prominent being Vincent van Gogh.-History:...

, he produced many paintings, but no self-portraits, a period in which he returned to painting the natural world.

Portraits


Van Gogh, known for his landscapes, seemed to find painting portraits his greatest ambition. He said of portrait studies, "The only thing in painting that excites me to the depths of my soul, and which makes me feel the infinite more than anything else."

To his sister he wrote, "I should like to paint portraits which appear after a century to people living then as apparitions. By which I mean that I do not endeavor to achieve this through photographic resemblance, but my means of our impassioned emotions—that is to say using our knowledge and our modern taste for color as a means of arriving at the expression and the intensification of the character."

Of painting portraits, van Gogh wrote: "in a picture I want to say something comforting as music is comforting. I want to paint men and women with that something of the eternal which the halo used to symbolize, and which we seek to communicate by the actual radiance and vibration of our coloring."

Cypresses



One of the most popular and widely known series of van Gogh's paintings are his Cypress
Cupressus sempervirens
Cupressus sempervirens, the Mediterranean Cypress is a species of cypress native to the eastern Mediterranean region, in northeast Libya, southeast Greece , southern Turkey, Cyprus, Northern Egypt, western Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Malta, Italy, western Jordan, and also a disjunct population in...

es. During the Summer of 1889, at sister Wil
Wil van Gogh
Willemina Jacoba van Gogh , called Wil, was the youngest sister of the artist Vincent van Gogh and the art dealer Theo van Gogh. She was amongst the earliest feminists....

's request, he made several smaller versions of Wheat Field with Cypresses. The works are characterised by swirls and densely painted impasto
Impasto
In English, the borrowed Italian word impasto most commonly refers to a technique used in painting, where paint is laid on an area of the surface very thickly, usually thickly enough that the brush or painting-knife strokes are visible. Paint can also be mixed right on the canvas...

—and produced one of his best-known paintings—The Starry Night
The Starry Night
The Starry Night is a painting by Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh. The painting depicts the view outside his sanitarium room window at night, although it was painted from memory during the day. Since 1941 it has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New...

. Other works from the series have similar stylistic elements including Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background (1889) Cypresses (1889), Cypresses with Two Figures (1889–1890), Wheat Field with Cypresses (1889), (van Gogh made several versions of this painting that year), Road with Cypress and Star (1890), and Starry Night Over the Rhone
Starry Night Over the Rhone
Starry Night Over the Rhone is one of Vincent van Gogh's paintings of Arles at night; it was painted at a spot on the banks of river which was only a minute or two's walk from the Yellow House on the Place Lamartine which Van Gogh was renting at the time...

(1888). These have become synonymous with van Gogh's work through their stylistic uniqueness. According to art historian Ronald Pickvance,
Road with Cypress and Star (1890), is compositionally as unreal and artificial as the Starry Night. Pickvance goes on to say the painting Road with Cypress and Star represents an exalted experience of reality, a conflation of North and South, what both van Gogh and Gauguin referred to as an "abstraction". Referring to Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background, on or around 18 June 1889, in a letter to Theo, he wrote, "At last I have a landscape with olives and also a new study of a Starry Night."


Hoping to also have a gallery for his work, his major project at this time was a series of paintings including Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers
Sunflowers (series of paintings)
Sunflowers are the subject of two series of still life paintings by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. The earlier series executed in Paris in 1887 gives the flowers lying on the ground, while the second set executed a year later in Arles shows bouquets of sunflowers in a vase...

(1888), and Starry Night Over the Rhone
Starry Night Over the Rhone
Starry Night Over the Rhone is one of Vincent van Gogh's paintings of Arles at night; it was painted at a spot on the banks of river which was only a minute or two's walk from the Yellow House on the Place Lamartine which Van Gogh was renting at the time...

(1888) that all intended to form the décorations for the Yellow House
The Décoration for the Yellow House
The Décoration for the Yellow House was the main project Vincent van Gogh focused on in Arles, from August 1888 until his breakdown the day before Christmas. This Décoration had no pre-defined form or size; the central idea of the Décoration grew step by step, with the progress of his work....

.

Flowering Orchards


The series of Flowering Orchards, sometimes referred to as the Orchards in Blossom paintings, were among the first groups of work that van Gogh completed after his arrival in Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

, Provence in February 1888. The 14 paintings in this group are optimistic, joyous and visually expressive of the burgeoning Springtime. They are delicately sensitive, silent, quiet and unpopulated. About The Cherry Tree Vincent wrote to Theo on 21 April 1888 and said he had 10 orchards and: one big (painting) of a cherry tree, which I've spoiled. The following spring he painted another smaller group of orchards, including View of Arles, Flowering Orchards
View of Arles, Flowering Orchards
View of Arles, Flowering Orchards is a painting by Vincent van Gogh, executed in spring 1889, one of several paintings he produced on the subject of Flowering Orchards while living in Arles...

.

Van Gogh was taken by the landscape and vegetation of the South of France, and often visited the farm gardens near Arles. Because of the vivid light supplied by the Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

 his palette significantly brightened. From his arrival, he was interested in capturing the effect of the seasons on the surrounding landscape and plant life.

Flowers



Van Gogh painted several versions of landscapes with flowers, as seen in View of Arles with Irises, and paintings of flowers, including Irises
Irises (painting)
Irises is a painting by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. Irises was painted while Vincent van Gogh was living at the asylum at Saint Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890....

, Sunflowers
Sunflowers (series of paintings)
Sunflowers are the subject of two series of still life paintings by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. The earlier series executed in Paris in 1887 gives the flowers lying on the ground, while the second set executed a year later in Arles shows bouquets of sunflowers in a vase...

, lilacs and roses. Some reflect his interests in the language of color, and also in Japanese ukiyo-e
Ukiyo-e
' is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre, and pleasure quarters...

 woodblock prints
Woodblock printing
Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper....

.
He completed two series of sunflowers: the first while he was in Paris in 1887, and the second during his stay in Arles the following year. The first series shows living flowers in the ground. In the second series, they are dying in vases. The 1888 paintings were created during a rare period of optimism for the artist. He intended them to decorate a bedroom where Gauguin was supposed to stay in Arles that August, when the two would create the community of artists van Gogh had long hoped for. The flowers are rendered with thick brushstrokes (impasto) and heavy layers of paint.

In an August 1888 letter to Theo, he wrote,
"I am hard at it, painting with the enthusiasm of a Marseillais eating bouillabaisse, which won't surprise you when you know that what I'm at is the painting of some sunflowers. If I carry out this idea there will be a dozen panels. So the whole thing will be a symphony in blue and yellow. I am working at it every morning from sunrise on, for the flowers fade so quickly. I am now on the fourth picture of sunflowers. This fourth one is a bunch of 14 flowers ... it gives a singular effect."

Wheat fields



Van Gogh made several painting excursions during visits to the landscape around Arles. He made a number of paintings featuring harvests, wheat fields and other rural landmarks of the area, including The Old Mill (1888); a good example of a picturesque structure bordering the wheat fields beyond. It was one of seven canvases sent to Pont-Aven on 4 October 1888 as exchange of work with Paul Gauguin, Emile Bernard, Charles Laval
Charles Laval
Charles Laval was a French painter born March 17, 1862 in Paris and who died April 27, 1894. He is associated with the Synthetic movement and Pont-Aven School, and he was a contemporary and friend of Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. Gauguin created a portrait of him in 1886 looking at one of...

, and others. At various times in his life, van Gogh painted the view from his window—at The Hague, Antwerp, Paris. These works culminated in The Wheat Field series, which depicted the view he could see from his adjoining cells in the asylum at Saint-Rémy.

Writing in July 1890, van Gogh said that he had become absorbed "in the immense plain against the hills, boundless as the sea, delicate yellow". He had become captivated by the fields in May when the wheat was young and green. The weather worsened in July, and he wrote to Theo of "vast fields of wheat under troubled skies", adding that he did not "need to go out of my way to try and express sadness and extreme loneliness".

Posthumous fame



Following his first exhibitions in the late 1880s, van Gogh's fame grew steadily among colleagues, art critics, dealers and collectors. After his death, memorial exhibitions were mounted in Brussels, Paris, The Hague and Antwerp. In the early 20th century, there were retrospectives in Paris (1901 and 1905), and Amsterdam
Stedelijk Museum
Founded in 1874, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is a museum for classic modern and contemporary art in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It has been housed on the Paulus Potterstraat, next to Museum Square Museumplein and to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the Concertgebouw, in Amsterdam Zuid...

 (1905), and important group exhibitions in Cologne
Sonderbund westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Künstler
The "Sonderbund" — as it is normally called; its complete name being Sonderbund westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Künstler — was a "special union" of artists and art lovers, established 1909 in Düsseldorf and dissolved in 1916...

 (1912), New York
Armory Show
Many exhibitions have been held in the vast spaces of U.S. National Guard armories, but the Armory Show refers to the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art that was organized by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors...

 (1913) and Berlin (1914). These had a noticeable impact on later generations of artists. By the mid 20th century van Gogh was seen as one of the greatest and most recognizable painters in history. In 2007 a group of Dutch historians compiled the "Canon of Dutch History
Canon of Dutch History
The Canon of Dutch History is a list of fifty topics that aims to provide a chronological summary of Dutch history to be taught in primary schools and the first two years of secondary school in the Netherlands...

" to be taught in schools and included van Gogh as one of the fifty topics of the canon, alongside other national icons such as Rembrandt and De Stijl
De Stijl
De Stijl , propagating the group's theories. Next to van Doesburg, the group's principal members were the painters Piet Mondrian , Vilmos Huszár , and Bart van der Leck , and the architects Gerrit Rietveld , Robert van 't Hoff , and J.J.P. Oud...

.

Together with those of Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

, Van Gogh's works are among the world's most expensive paintings ever sold, as estimated from auctions and private sales. Those sold for over $100 million (today's equivalent) include Portrait of Dr. Gachet
Portrait of Dr. Gachet
Portrait of Dr. Gachet is one of the most revered paintings by Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. It depicts Dr. Paul Gachet, who took care of him during the final months of his life...

, Portrait of Joseph Roulin and Irises
Irises (painting)
Irises is a painting by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. Irises was painted while Vincent van Gogh was living at the asylum at Saint Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890....

. A Wheatfield with Cypresses was sold in 1993 for $57 million, a spectacularly high price at the time, while his Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear was sold privately in the late 1990s for an estimated $80/$90 million.

Influence


In his final letter to Theo, Vincent admitted that as he did not have any children, he viewed his paintings as his progeny. Reflecting on this, the historian Simon Schama
Simon Schama
Simon Michael Schama, CBE is a British historian and art historian. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University. He is best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC documentary series A History of Britain...

 concluded that he "did have a child of course, Expressionism, and many, many heirs." Schama mentioned a wide number of artists who have adapted elements of van Gogh's style, including Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

, Howard Hodgkin
Howard Hodgkin
Sir Gordon Howard Eliot Hodgkin CH, CBE is a British painter and printmaker. His work is most often associated with abstraction.-Early life:...

 and Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock
Paul Jackson Pollock , known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. He was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist. He had a volatile personality, and...

. The Fauves
Fauvism
Fauvism is the style of les Fauves , a short-lived and loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism...

 extended both his use of color and freedom in application, as did German Expressionists of the Die Brücke
Die Brücke
Die Brücke was a group of German expressionist artists formed in Dresden in 1905, after which the Brücke Museum in Berlin was named. Founding members were Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Later members were Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Otto Mueller...

 group, and as other early modernists
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

. Abstract Expressionism
Abstract expressionism
Abstract expressionism was an American post–World War II art movement. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence and put New York City at the center of the western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris...

 of the 1940s and 1950s is seen as in part inspired from van Gogh's broad, gestural brush strokes. In the words of art critic Sue Hubbard: "At the beginning of the twentieth century Van Gogh gave the Expressionists
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 a new painterly language that enabled them to go beyond surface appearance and penetrate deeper essential truths. It is no coincidence that at this very moment Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 was also mining the depths of that essentially modern domain—the subconscious
Subconscious
The term subconscious is used in many different contexts and has no single or precise definition. This greatly limits its significance as a definition-bearing concept, and in consequence the word tends to be avoided in academic and scientific settings....

. This beautiful and intelligent exhibition places Van Gogh where he firmly belongs; as the trailblazer of modern art
Modern art
Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of...

."

In 1957, Francis Bacon (1909–1992) based a series of paintings on reproductions of van Gogh's The Painter on the Road to Tarascon, the original of which was destroyed during World War II. Bacon was inspired by not only an image he described as "haunting", but also van Gogh himself, whom Bacon regarded as an alienated outsider, a position which resonated with Bacon. The Irish artist further identified with van Gogh's theories of art and quoted lines written in a letter to Theo, "[R]eal painters do not paint things as they are...They paint them as they themselves feel them to be". An exhibition devoted to Vincent van Gogh's letters took place in the Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum is an art museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, featuring the works of the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries. It has the largest collection of Van Gogh's paintings and drawings in the world.-Background:...

 in Amsterdam from October 2009 to January 2010 and then moved to the Royal Academy
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

 in London from late January to April.

External links