Who Was Van Gogh?
History of Art

Who Was Van Gogh?

Jul 27, 2022

Van Gogh is one of the most famous painters in the world. In addition to his impressive paintings, he is also known for his melancholic and unhappy life. The answer to the question of how was the life of Van Gogh, who committed suicide and created awesome paintings, is curious. Van Gogh, one of the famous names of the Impressionist movement, still makes a name for himself with the works he left behind, even after centuries. Take a closer look at the life of the depressed and sensitive painter –Van Gogh.

Early Life of Van Gogh

The famous painter, whose real name is Vincent Willem van Gogh, was born on March 30, 1853 in the Netherlands. He grew up with religious and strict parents. A significant part of his childhood was spent in boarding schools. As a result of all this, Van Gogh became an introvert in his early youth. Van Gogh’s siblings are Theo, Elisabeth, Wil, Cor and Anna Comelia. Although Van Gogh grew up far from the concept of family, his correspondence with his brother Theo has been published today as 'Van Gogh letters to Theo'.

Van Gogh traveled to many cities and did different jobs. He worked as a civil servant, a priest, a book seller and a language teacher. He took theology classes in Brussels. With his good heart and deep warrior instinct, he fought for the miners and became a hero to the villagers in the region. During these years, he had no money; he was living off the alms given by the villagers. His psychological condition was deteriorating as well as he was physically tired and sick. He nearly died when his brother Theo came and took him to Brussels. It is thought that Van Gogh, who wanted to become a clergyman, moved away from God because of his experiences.

Love Life of Van Gogh

Love life of Van Gogh was complicated. Vincent Van Gogh often fell in love with older women. Because of his Protestant pastor father, he was under the influence of impositions on love and sexuality. None of the women he'd dated gave him positive feedback. The rejection of the woman he loved badly affected Van Gogh's mental state. Then, leaving everything behind, he wanted to become a priest with the effect of his depression, but he could not succeed in the exams.

Artistic Life of Van Gogh

The artistic life of Van Gogh began when he was in his early 20s. Van Gogh, who had been emotionally damaged until then, reflected his depression in his paintings. When you go from the pictures he drew when he was young to the pictures he drew in recent years, it was obvious that the melancholy increased. The paintings Van Gogh drew later formed the basis of modern art. He surpassed his contemporaries with his unique brush strokes and the color combinations he used.

Impressionism and Van Gogh

Van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter. He was painting more mystical pictures rather than modern official positivist understanding. As a result, he combined expressionist and post-impressionist lines with modern painting. Impressionism can be called as an answer to the question of which movement Van Gogh was painting with.

Impressionism originated in France in the second half of the 19th century. It later spread to other countries and was described as a revolution in painting. In Impressionism, the artist does not need to follow the usual patterns and rules, he reflects the impressions he has subjectively on his painting. The sensations that an impression evokes in the artist are drawn.

The name origin of the Impressionism movement comes from Claude Monet. The famous painter's painting 'Impression, Sunrise' is published in an exhibition in 1874. Then one of the writers in the newspaper Le Charivari calls this exhibition L'exposition des Impressionnistes (Exhibition of the Impressionists). In fact, the author's aim was to despise the painters who drew their own impressions and moved away from the traditional approach, but it did not turn out as he expected. A few years after Monet and his friends adopted this name, they officially gave this name to an exhibition they opened.

Paintings of Van Gogh

How many Van Gogh paintings are there in total, the answer to this question is wondered by many art lovers. The number of Van Gogh's paintings is around 900. In addition to these, he has about 1100 sketches.

Among Van Gogh's best-known paintings are listed below.

  • Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum
  • Starry Night Over The Rhone
  • Irises
  • Branches with Almond Blossom
  • Blossoming Almond Tree
  • The Starry Night
  • Vase With Twelve Sunflowers II
  • Olive Trees With Yellow Sky And Sun
  • Wheat Field With Crows
  • The Red Vineyard
  • Mulberry Tree

Starry Night

Starry Night is undoubtedly one of Vincent Van Gogh's most famous works. Contrary to popular belief, Starry Night is exhibited not at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, but at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Starry Night (Dutch De sterrennacht) is an oil painting made by Van Gogh in June 1889.

Death of Van Gogh

Van Gogh is thought to have shot himself in the field with a pistol on 27 July 1890 while he was in France. He passed away in the early morning hours of 29 July 1890, the second day he spent in his room at Auberge Ravoux in the village of Auvers sur Oise. Consequently, death of Van Gogh was incredibly tragic. He was penniless all his life, waiting for the day when his works would be appreciated. He was not in good shape mentally.

Thanks to the help Vincent Van Gogh received from his siblings –especially Theo-, he could barely make ends meet, and he had difficulty even finding the money he needed for pen and paper. Centuries after his death, Van Gogh got the appreciation he deserved. The vast majority of his works are admired by millions of visitors every year in Amsterdam in the Van Gogh museum that bears his name today.