Vincent van Gogh’s Famous Artworks
“The Potato Eaters,” 1885
“Starry Night Over the Rhone,” 1888
“Café Terrce at Night,” 1888
“The Night Café,” 1888
“Bedroom in Arles,” 1888
“The Starry Night,” 1889
“Wheat Field with Cypresses,” 1889
Vincent van Gogh’s Early Life and Work
Vincent Willem van Gogh was born in the month of March in 1853 in the village of Groot Zundert in the south of the Netherlands to Theodorus van Gogh and his wife Anna Cornelia Corbentus. His father was a man of cloth in the Dutch Reformist Church and his mother an artist in her own right.
The oldest of six siblings, Vincent’s interest in art developed early and he began to draw in his childhood. When he was 15, he got a job with his uncle Cornelius who ran the art dealership Goupil & Cie. in The Hague. The firm transferred him to London after a period of training and this, by many accounts, was the happiest time in Vincent’s life. He did well at his job with Messrs. Goupil & Co., earned enough for himself, frequented art galleries and also fell in love with Eugénie Loyer, the daughter of his landlady. However, Eugenie did not reciprocate his feelings. After being rejected by her, Vincent suffered a breakdown and became increasingly isolated as well as passionate about religion. He was transferred yet again, this time to Paris, but his disenchantment with the art market and its treatment of artists was strong and evident to customers; Goupil ultimately terminated his employment in 1876. In fact, Van Gogh worked as a schoolteacher through the early- and mid-1870s. He also worked in a bookstore and, with his growing sense of religious devotion, appeared for the entrance examination to study theology in Amsterdam. He was not selected.
Vincent van Gogh’s Paintings
Van Gogh decided to move to Brussels and become an artist. He had never studied art. The year was 1880 and he was 27-years-old. In Brussels, he was supported by his younger brother Theodore (Theo), who was an art dealer. Van Gogh was largely self-taught as an artist; he learnt by tirelessly copying prints of the old masters and studying drawing manuals and art books from the 19th century, such as the works of Jean-François Millet and Charles Bargue.
In 1881, Van Gogh moved to Etten with his parents, where he continued to draw fervently, often using his neighbors as subjects. He also fell in love again; this time with his recently widowed cousin Kee Vos-Stricker. After she turned down his proposal of marriage, Van Gogh turned away from religion forever.
Van Gogh moved to The Hague in January 1882. After meeting his cousin-in-law Anton Mauve, a painter of The Hague School, he started making oil paintings and watercolors. His uncle Cornelius commissioned him to make a series of ink drawings of scenes from the city, which he did. Van Gogh began a new relationship with Clasina Maria Hoornik in The Hague but his family was strongly against the attachment and when Hoornik returned to prostitution, he ended the relationship and left to stay with his parents in Nuenen, North Brabant. Van Gogh painted The Potato Eaters, his first major work, in 1885 in Nuenen. His brother Theo, settled in Paris and familiar with the increasingly influential Impressionist style, believed that the painting would not be received well in Parisian art circles.
Vincent van Gogh in Paris
Nevertheless, Vincent moved to Paris
to live with his brother by March 1886. In Paris, he became familiar with the work of the Impressionist as well as the Neo-Impressionist artists, Paul Signac and Georges Seurat. He interacted with Camille Pissarro and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and was deeply influenced by Japanese prints. It was also in Paris that Vincent and Theo met Paul Gauguin. Vincent created over 200 artworks during his two-year stay in Paris, finally leaving the city in 1888 for Arles, in the south of France.
Vincent van Gogh’s Final Years
Van Gogh was captivated with the landscape of Arles, and believed that the light there was just like that of Japan. He lived in the ‘little yellow house’, which he also used as a studio. Though his work from this period was prolific, Van Gogh continued to struggle with his physical and psychological health, often foregoing food in favor of buying material for his work. Van Gogh was visited by Gauguin in Arles but the two had disagreements soon enough, eventually leading to Van Gogh cutting off his left ear after suffering from an acute psychotic incident. In the aftermath of this incident, he was first hospitalized and then instituionalised at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Throughout this dark period, he did not stop painting and found his subjects in the interiors and gardens of the hospital.
In 1889, six of his works were put on display in Brussels. Among them were “Irises” and “Starry Night.” The next year he moved to Auvers, where he was put under the care of Dr Paul Gachet. One morning, he shot himself in the chest while out to paint. Two days later he died in the arms of his brother Theo. He was 37.
Vincent van Gogh's Major Exhibitions
1909 - New Gallery, London
1923 - Leicester Galleries, London
1926 - Tate Gallery, London
1929 - Royal Academy of Art, London
1935 - Museum of Modern Art, New York
2005 - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
2008 - Museum of Modern Art, New York
Vincent van Gogh's Museums/Collections
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
National Gallery, London
Pushkin Museum, Moscow
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands
Art Institute of Chicago
Dallas Museum of Art
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
Vincent van Gogh's Books/Publications
“Van Gogh: The Life” by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith
“Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh” by Irving Stone and Jean Stone
“Vincent Van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist” by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
“Vincent Van Gogh” by Mike Venezia