Javatpoint Logo
Javatpoint Logo

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh

Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent Willem van Gogh, who lived from March 30 1853 to July 29 1890, was off to become one of the most well-known and remarkable personalities in Western art history after his death. He produced around 2,100 pieces of art in 10 years, including about 860 oil paintings, most of which were made in the final two years of his life. These works, which varied from landscapes to still lifes to portraits and self-portraits, are recognised for their vibrant colours and dramatic, spontaneous, and expressive brushstrokes, which helped create the foundation for modern art. He did not have much commercial success, and at the age of 37, while suffering from acute depression and poverty, he took his own life.

A family from the upper middle class gave birth to Van Gogh. He was serious, quiet, and thoughtful when he was young. Later, he picked up drawing, and when he was still a young man, he travelled much for his job as an art dealer. However, after being transferred to London, he started to feel unhappy. He turned religious and spent time in southern Belgium as a missionary. He stayed in poor health and isolation until beginning to paint in 1881 after returning to live with his parents. He received financial support from his younger brother Theo, who maintained a close letter-writing relationship.

He went to Paris in 1886, when he met artists of the avant-garde struggling against the Impressionist sensibility, such as Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin. His early works mainly consisted of still lifes and portraits of peasant labourers, which contained the vibrant colour that would eventually define his Style. As his career progressed, he developed a fresh perspective on still life and landscape. His paintings got brighter as he created a fully developed style while he was a resident of Arles in the South of France in 1888. He expanded his subject matter during this time to include several olive trees, wheat fields, and sunflowers.

Although Van Gogh was disturbed about his mental stability and experienced psychotic episodes and delusions, he frequently ignored his physical health, did not eat well, and drank excessively. After a confrontation in which Van Gogh cut off a portion of his left ear with a razor in a moment of anger, their friendship was ended. He then spent time in psychiatric hospitals, including a stay at Saint-Remy. To receive treatment from the homoeopath Paul Gachet, he moved to the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-Sur-Oise, near Paris, and evacuated himself first. On July 27, 1890, Van Gogh is said to have shot himself in the chest with a revolver as his despair worsened. Two days later, he was said to have passed away from his wounds.

Even though some collectors understood the worth of Van Gogh's work, his paintings did not sell during his lifetime, after which he was widely recognised as a failure and a maniac. His popularity didn't begin until his passing, when he transformed into a misunderstood genius in the public's mind. As the Fauves and German Expressionists absorbed features of his Style in the early 20th Century, his fame flourished. Over the succeeding decades, he earned broad recognition and financial success. He is remembered as a brilliant but tragic painter whose disturbed personality symbolises the romantic ideal of the tortured artist.

His achievements and some of the most expensive paintings ever sold are honoured by a museum bearing his name, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which has the most extensive collection of Van Gogh's paintings and drawings.

Early Life

Vincent Van Gogh

On March 30, 1853, in the village of Zundert, in the southern province of North Brabant, Vincent van Gogh was born. The sisters of Vincent van Gogh, Elisabeth, Anna, and Wil, as well as his brother Theo and Cor, were all raised by the Reverend Theodorus van Gogh (1822-1885) and Anna Cornelia Carbentus (1819-1907). He was their eldest son. Only Vincent was a shy child without any apparent artistic talent known about his early years. At age 16, he started working as an assistant for his uncle, a partner at the Goupil & Co. art gallery in The Hague.

Van Gogh worked for Goupil from 1873 to May 1875 in London and from that point until April 1876 in Paris. His artistic sense was encouraged by daily exposure to works of art, and he soon developed an appreciation for Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and other Dutch masters. He also loved Jean-François Millet and Camille Corot, two modern French painters whose influence would last throughout his life. Van Gogh disliked the sale of art. In addition, his outlook on life changed after a London girl rejected him in 1874 for love, and he lost his intense desire for human affection and grew more and more alone.

In addition to serving as a lay preacher and language instructor in England, he also worked as a bookseller in Dordrecht, Netherlands, in 1877. He studied theology because he had a strong desire to serve others. However, in 1878, he gave up this goal to go to Brussels for some short-term missionary training. He questioned the conventional theological perspective, which led to a battle with authority. After three months of trying to get an appointment, he gave up and went to work as a missionary among the impoverished people of the coal-mining district of Borinage in southwest Belgium. He had his first significant spiritual crisis in the winter of 1879-1880. He lived among the poor and, in a fit of devotion, gave away everything he belonged to; as a result, he was expelled by the church for taking Christian teaching too seriously.

He grieved, feeling his faith had been destroyed and withdrew from everyone. He told a friend, "They think I'm crazy because I wanted to be a real Christian, and they treated me like a dog and accused me of creating a mess." Van Gogh started taking his drawing more seriously at that point, which led to the discovery of his life's purpose as an artist in 1880. Van Gogh decided his goal moving forward would be to use his art to comfort others. I want to deliver the wretched a brotherly message, he said to his brother Theo. His self-confidence was boosted as he realised his artistic abilities.

Legacy of Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh is widely considered one of the outstanding Dutch painters of all time, primarily based on paintings from his final three years of life. His work significantly impacted the evolution of many modern paintings, particularly the works of Chaim Soutine, the German Expressionists, and the Fauve painters. He only sold one out of more than 800 oil paintings and 700 drawings in his collection.

He was always utterly needy but kept going by his belief in the urgency of what he had to express. His letters to Theo and other friends from 1872 onward provide such a vivid description of his ambitions and convictions, his hopes and disappointments, and his changing physical and mental state that they work together to form an outstanding and affecting biographical record that is also a brilliant human document.

Van Gogh was generally unknown when he committed suicide since only one article had been written about him while he was alive. He exhibited a few canvases on show at the Salon des Independants in Paris between 1888 and 1890. In 1890, he also ran one in Brussels. In 1891, both salons displayed small memorial groups of his artwork. His first solo exhibitions didn't happen until 1892.

Early 20th Century

Early in the 20th Century, Van Gogh first gained attention, and it has only continued to spread ever since. This reputation is founded mainly on the image of van Gogh as a genius who struggled and laboured alone and was underappreciated. His life's dramatic events like poverty, self-mutilation, mental collapse, and suicidal behaviour fed the mythology's drama. Since it is just that kind of isolation and struggle that has come to define the modern concept of the artist, the idea that his unique gift was unappreciated and rejected by society enhances the legend.

Vincent Van Gogh

Inspiring artists to portray his journey in poetry, books, films, operas, dance groups, orchestral works, and a well-known song, this legendary van Gogh has practically become inseparable from his artwork. Wide-ranging audiences have learned to appreciate his work, and the exhibitions of his work have seen record-breaking attendance. Commodities with images from his work have become very popular. The unrecognised auction prices for his works and the attention given to counterfeiting controversies have further boosted van Gogh's reputation in the public's eyes. In less than a Century, van Gogh has probably solidified his position as the most well-known painter of all time.

In van Gogh's studies, there is a need to restore the known facts of the artist's life to cut through the layers of myth and better understand the artist's most infamous moments, such as his conflicts with Gauguin, the mutilation of his left ear, and the suicide. To identify van Gogh's condition, medical and psychological professionals have reviewed written records of his symptoms and their recommended therapies. There are different variants of this expert analysis.

Because of van Gogh's enduring popularity, scholars have even examined the mythologising procedure. Others have carefully researched the locations where van Gogh worked and lived and the evidence of his interactions with neighbours, relatives, and coworkers. These analyses shed additional light on the artist and his work while providing fresh evidence that van Gogh's unique charm endures and grows more than a century after his passing.

Lust for Life(A film by Minnelli [1956])

Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn received widespread praise for their roles in the 1956 American drama Lust for Life, which follows the life of painter Vincent van Gogh.

Douglas' portrayal of van Gogh, who ultimately committed suicide, is explored in Lust for Life. He was not well known when he passed away but was later recognised as one of the greatest Post-Impressionists.

The best-selling fictitious biography of Vincent van Gogh by Irving Stone took almost ten years for producer John Houseman to produce for the big screen. Many of the scenes in the Vincente Minnelli-directed movie were filmed in the genuine European locations depicted in van Gogh's paintings. Quinn won the best supporting actor Oscar for his brief role as painter Paul Gauguin, and Douglas' determined performance earned him a nomination.


  • Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gogh
  • Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin
  • James Donald as Theo van Gogh
  • Pamela Brown as Christine
  • Everett Sloane as Dr Gachet

The Productive Decade of Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh

His 10-year artistic career, from 1880 to 1890, was incredibly limited. He focused almost entirely on drawing and watercolour to develop his technical skills throughout the first four years of this time.


Van Gogh put forward a lot of effort and worked systematically, but he soon realised that self-training was difficult, so he should seek the advice of more experienced artists. He first went to the Brussels Academy to study drawing, and in 1881 he went to his father's house in Etten, Netherlands, where he started working from nature. He interacted with other painters and went to museums. He travelled to The Hague before the end of 1881 to engage with Dutch landscape painter Anton Mauve.


Thus, in the summer of 1882, Van Gogh expanded his technical skills and experimented with oil paint. Before returning to his home in Nuenen, a different village in the Brabant, he felt the need to spend three months in Drenthe, a secluded northern Netherlands region popular with Mauve and other Dutch painters. He spent most of 1884 and 1885 at Nuenen, and his art became more daring and assured during this time.

He painted still lifes, landscapes, and figures, three different subject groups connected by references to peasants' daily lives, struggles, and the landscapes they farmed. Van Gogh was strongly influenced by Emile Zola's novel Germinal (1885), which is based on a coal-mining region of France. His works from this period, such as Weavers and The Potato Eaters, include latent sociological criticism. But eventually, he began to feel too alone in Nuenen.

His understanding of painting's potential grew swiftly; he discovered how to express his passion for an aesthetic experience by studying Hals. Through the works of Paolo Veronese and Eugene Delacroix, he realised that colour might tell something on its own. As a result, he became passionate about Peter Paul Rubens and abruptly left for Antwerp, Belgium, where most of Rubens's paintings could be seen.

The discovery of Rubens' precise marking method and his talent for using colour to convey emotion were crucial to the evolution of van Gogh's Style. Van Gogh discovered Impressionist artwork and Japanese prints at the same time. These sources affected him more than the philosophical ideas taught at the Antwerp Academy, where he was enrolled. His refusal to conform to the academy's rules led to disputes.


In 1886, he left unexpectedly to join Theo in Paris after three months. While concentrating on refining his sketching, Van Gogh encountered Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, and other individuals who went on to play critical roles in contemporary art. They exposed him to the latest innovations in French art. At the same time, Theo introduced him to other Impressionist artists like Camille Pissarro and Georges Seurat.

By this time, Van Gogh was prepared for these lessons, and the developments that occurred in Paris between the spring of 1886 and February 1888 benefited him in refining his brushwork style and visual technique. His early portrayals of Montmartre reveal the gradual development of his colour pallet, vision's unconventionality, and tonal differences' brightness. He was using only solid colours and occasional uninspired brushstrokes by the summer of 1887.

Vincent Van Gogh


By the beginning of 1888, Van Gogh's Post-Impressionist Style had fully developed, and this is when paintings like Portrait of Pere Tanguy and Self-Portrait in Front of the Easel, as well as some landscapes of the Paris suburbs, were created. In February 1888, he travelled from Paris to Arles in southeast France. After two years in the city, Van Gogh was physically tired and desired "to look at nature under a clearer sky." His current obsession was "a full impression of colour."

The photographs were taken over the next 12 months and represented the first notable collection of work he produced. They featured self-portraits, views of the town and its surroundings, portraits of Roulin the Postman and other friends, interior and exterior shots of the house, sunflowers, and landscapes. He tried to preserve a human's or landscape's external visual component in these paintings. Still, he could not hold back his sentiments for the topic, which came out in dramatic shapes and enhanced colour effects. He had previously been unwilling to break from the traditional painting methods he had worked so hard to learn, but now he was free to express his Style and started squeezing his oil paint tubes directly onto the canvas.

Van Gogh painted swiftly and passionately, focusing on instinct and spontaneity to capture an effect or a feeling while it was still in him. "You can reply that they have looked at it too quickly when someone claims that such and such [art] is done too quickly," he told his brother. Van Gogh was aware of the originality of his painting style, but he also understood that some projects are unreachable for isolated individuals. With Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, and other members who shared his objectives, he intended to create an independent Impressionist group in Paris. He rented and furnished an Arles home to persuade them to follow him. He also discovered a working neighbourhood called "The Studio of the South."

Van Gogh and Gauguin worked together for two months after Gauguin's arrival in October 1888. Despite the mutual impact, their working relationship quickly fell apart because of their conflicting beliefs and psychological differences. On the eve of Christmas in 1888, tragedy struck. Van Gogh lost his composure under strain, both physically and emotionally exhausted. He took off the bottom half of his left ear while arguing with Gauguin and rushed after him with a blade. According to a sensational news report, a disturbed van Gogh later went to prostitution close to his house and gave the wounded body part to Rachel, instructing her to "guard this object carefully."

However, art historians Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans concluded that Gauguin was the one who cut off van Gogh's ear and that he did so with a sword in their 2008 book Van Gogh's Ohr: Paul Gaugin und der Pakt des Schweigens. They did this by examining historical police records and the artists' correspondence. Van Gogh took responsibility for whatever had occurred and was hospitalised; Gauguin left for Paris.


A couple of days after his return, Van Gogh started painting again, producing La Berceuse, several still lifes, and a mirror reflection of himself in Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe (Woman Rocking a Cradle; Augustine-Alix Pellicot Roulin, 1851-1930). A few weeks later, he once more showed severe signs of a mental disorder to warrant a hospital visit. He asked to be temporarily detained in the Saint-Remy-de-Provence asylum at the end of April 1889 so that he might receive medical attention because he was scared of losing his recovered capacity for work, which he saw as a guarantee of his health.

The Starry Night, Garden of the Asylum, Cypresses, Olive Trees, Les Alpilles, portraits of doctors, and improvements of works by Rembrandt, Delacroix, and Millet were all developed during Van Gogh's 12-month stay there. At the same time, he was haunted by recurrent attacks, oscillating between calm and desperation and occasionally working. The key characteristics of this phase (1889-1899) are a sense of loss and concern about losing contact with reality.

Van Gogh struggled against having to draw from memory since he was confined for extended periods to his cell or the asylum garden, had limited choice of topics, and understood that his inspiration depended on direct observation. In Saint-Remy, he attempted to settle down his painting by silencing the summer's vivid, sun-drenched colours.

However, as he suppressed his excitement, he became more imaginatively involved in the drama of the elements. He created a style focused on dynamic forms and the forceful use of lines. Thus, the best of his Saint-Rémy images are bolder and more forward-looking than those from Arles.

His Style also experienced a change, with less deformed natural forms in his paintings and more relaxed, fresher shades in the northern light. His brushstrokes grew broader and more expressive, and his depiction of nature ended up taking a more lyrical quality. Everything seems to be moving and alive in these photographs. However, this phase was short, and it ended with fights with Gachet and regretting his financial dependence on Theo and failure to succeed.

Van Gogh shot himself out of hopelessness that he would never be cured or able to get over his loneliness. He wasn't instantly dead. When discovered bleeding in his bed, he allegedly replied, "I shot myself; I only hope I didn't mess it up." That evening, Van Gogh refused to respond to police inquiries, stating, "Nobody else needs to know what I did. I have complete control over what I do with my own body."

Important Style and Works

Major series

Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh spent living in various places throughout Europe is typically linked to the artistic advancements of the artist. He had the potential to become familiar with local customs and lighting, but he always had a unique point of view. He was aware of his limitations as a painter, and he developed slowly. He frequently changed residences to expose himself to new visual information and improve his technical skills. According to art historian Melissa McQuillan, Van Gogh used the patterns to avoid conflict and as a coping method when the idealistic artist was confronted with the realities of his then-current circumstances. She also feels that the patterns represent later artistic shifts.


Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh had his best chance of succeeding financially with the portraits. They are "the only thing in art that moves me deeply and gives me a sense of the infinite," according to him. He mentioned his intention to paint long-lasting portraits in a letter to his sister. He said that, rather than pursuing photographic realism, he would utilise colour to represent the subjects' feelings and character. Van Gogh rarely painted Theo, Van Rappard, or Bernard; they are mainly absent from his portraits. His mother's portraits were based on her photographs.

He painted La Berceuse in December 1888; he regarded her as being on good terms with his sunflowers. Simple contours, a limited colour palette, and various brushstrokes are all present. It resembles the fusion of family portraits of the Rollins painted in Arles between November and December. The Style of the portraits changes from Portrait of the Postman's elegant, restrained brushstrokes and even surface to Madame Roulin with Baby's frenetic Style, rough texture, broad brushstrokes, and palette knife use.


Vincent Van Gogh

Between 1885 and 1889, Van Gogh painted more than 43 self-portraits. They were usually created in series, like the ones painted in Paris in the middle of 1887 and continued until just before his demise. Traditionally, the portraits were studies that he painted of himself during times of reflection when he was unwilling to interact with people or when he was short on models.

The self-portraits demonstrate an astonishingly high level of self-examination. They frequently used to remember key moments in his life. For example, the mid-1887 Paris series was painted when he first learned about Claude Monet, Cezanne, and Signac. One of his most well-known self-portraits from that era, it was regarded as a "purposeful canvas" by Van Gogh himself because of its "well-ordered rhythmic brushstrokes, and the unique halo drawn from the Neo-impressionist repertoire." The canvas is completely coated in thick paint in Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat.

There are many different physiognomical representations in them. Some depict him with large lips, a long face, a prominent head, or sharpened, observant features. Van Gogh's mental and physical state are typically evident; he may appear messy, unshaven, or with an overgrown beard. He has deeply sunken eyes, a weak jaw, or missing teeth. He may have red or occasionally ash-coloured hair.

Van Gogh rarely focuses his attention on the viewer. The intensity and colour of the portraits vary, and in those created after December 1888 in particular, the rich colours highlight the weary pale face of his skin. Various images of the artist show him sporting a beard or not. In paintings made immediately after he cut his ear, he is depicted wearing bandages. As he painted himself reflecting in his mirror, the Saint-Remy paintings portray the head from the right, the side opposite his wounded ear.


Van Gogh is thought to have shot himself in the chest on July 27, 1890, when he was 37 years old, with a 7mm Lefaucheux pinfire pistol. There were no witnesses, and he passed suddenly 30 hours after the occurrence. It's possible that the gunshot happened on the nearby farm or the wheat field where he had been painting when it happened. The bullet was stopped by his spine and deflected by a rib before passing through his chest without appearing to harm any internal organs. He could walk back to the Auberge Ravoux, where two doctors treated him; nevertheless, the bullet could not be removed without a surgeon.

After giving him the best treatment, the physicians left him alone in his room to consume his pipe. Theo found his brother in good spirits when he arrived at his side early the following day. But shortly after, Vincent's health began to decline due to an untreated infection brought on by the wound. On July 29, in the wee hours, he died away. Vincent's last words, according to Theo, were, "The sadness will last forever."

On July 30, Van Gogh was buried at the Auvers-Sur-Oise cemetery. Along with twenty other family members, friends, and neighbours, the funeral was attended by Theo van Gogh, Andries Bonger, Charles Laval, Lucien Pissarro, Emile Bernard, Julien Tanguy, and Paul Gachet. Theo had health problems, and those conditions worsened after his sibling's passing. He passed away on January 25, 1891, at Den Dolder because of illness and difficulty adjusting to Vincent's absence. He was buried in Utrecht. Theo's body was taken from Utrecht and excavated in 1914 by Johanna van Gogh-Bonger so that it might be reinterred next to Vincent's in Auvers-Sur-Oise.

Vincent Van Gogh

Many retrospective diagnoses have been made, and there have been various discussions over the nature of Van Gogh's sickness and how it affected his artwork. Most experts believe that Van Gogh had a rare illness with times of normal functioning. The psychiatrists Hemphill and Blumer have supported Perry's original 1947 hypothesis regarding bipolar disorder. He also suggested that the widespread belief that bipolar disorder and creativity are linked may be unfounded. Another theory relates depression symptoms to memory impairment. Whatever the diagnosis, hunger, excessive work, insomnia, and alcohol use were probably factors that made his condition worse.

Youtube For Videos Join Our Youtube Channel: Join Now


Help Others, Please Share

facebook twitter pinterest

Learn Latest Tutorials


Trending Technologies

B.Tech / MCA