Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 in Groot-Zundert, a village close to Breda in the province of North Brabant in the southern Netherlands.
Vincent's brother Theodorus (Theo) was born on May 1, 1857. Van Gogh also had another brother, Cor. Along with Cor and Theo, he had three sisters. There names were: Elisabeth, Anna and Willemina (Wil). Theo also grew up to be an art dealer.
Theo van Gogh
Elementary Boarding School
van Gogh went away to the elementary boarding school in Jan Provily in Zevenbergen about 20 miles away from his hometown. He was greatly distressed to leave his home and remembered this even when he was an adult.
Van Gogh was sent to Willem II for middle school in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Constantijn C. Huysmans, a successful artist in Paris, taught Van Gogh to draw at this school.
Leaving Willem II
Van Gogh abruptly left Willem II in March 1868 with no real clear explanation.
Goupil & Cie
In July 1869, his uncle helped him get a position with Goupil & Cie in The Hague.
Goupil & Cie
After his training, in June 1873, Goupil transferred him to London, where he lodged at 87 Hackford Road, Brixton, and worked at Messrs. Goupil & Co., 17 Southampton Street. This was a happy time for him. At this time, he was successful at work and at 20 years old, he was earning more than his father.
In an effort to support van Gogh becoming a pastor, his parents sent him to Amsterdam to study theology. He stayed with his uncle Jan van Gogh, a naval Vice Admiral. He prepared for the entrance exam under his uncle Johannes Stricker. He failed and left his uncle's house in July 1878.
In January 1879, he took a temporary post as a missionary in the village of Petit Wasmes in Belgium. Van Gogh chose to live like those he preached to. He would even sleep on the straw mats like the people did. The church authorities did not agree with his ways of ministering and was dismissed for "undermining the dignity of the priesthood."
Van Gogh gave into persuasion from his parents and moved home to Etten. There was particular conflict between Vincent and his father. His father, Theodorus made inquiries about having his son committed to the lunatic asylum at Geel.
He returned to Cuesmes where he lodged with a miner named Charles Decrucq until October. He became interested in the people and scenes around him. He recorded his time there in his drawings, and that year followed the suggestion of Theo and took up art with a passion. He traveled to Brussels intending to follow Theo's recommendation to study with the prominent Dutch artist Willem Roelofs, who persuaded Van Gogh, to attend Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts.
During this time, Vincent met up with his cousin-in-law Anton Mauve. Mauve was a painter and introduced Vincent to oil and watercolor painting. Anton also lent Vincent the money to start his own studio. Mauve and van Gogh had a falling out after Mauve learned of his relationship with an alcoholic prostitute. The painting shown here is Rooftops, View from the Atelier The Hague (1882), watercolour, Private collection.
In June 1883, van Gogh spent 3 weeks suffering from gonorrhea in the hospital. That summer, he also began to paint oil.
The Death of Theodorus van Gogh
On March 26, 1885 Vincent van Gogh's father died of a heart attack. He grieved deeply from the loss.
Van Gogh's First Major Work
The spring after his father's death, van Gogh completed his first major work, The Potato Eaters.hat August, his work was exhibited for the first time, in the windows of a paint dealer, Leurs, in The Hague. He was accused of forcing himself on one of his young peasant sitters who became pregnant that September. As a result, the Catholic village priest forbade parishioners from modeling for him.
The Potato Eaters
Van Gogh traveled to Paris in March 1886 to study at Fernand Cormon's studio, where he shared Theo's apartment. In June, they moved to a larger flat at 54 Rue Lepic. During this time he painted Bridges across the Seine at Asnieres (1887)
The Courtesan or Oiran (after Kesai Eisen) ( (1887)
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 and then graphically enlarged it in his painting.
Van Gogh moved to Arles. His works from this time period consist mainly of the colors mauve, yellow, and ultramarine. His paintings lacked perspective and dimension, but they excelled in color. The painting here is from Arles called Paul Gauguin's Armchair (1888).
Other Major Works
He moved from the Hôtel Carrel to the Café de la Gare on May 7 where he became friends with the proprietors, Joseph and Marie Ginoux. Although the Yellow House had to be furnished before he could fully move in, Van Gogh was able to use it as a studio.During this time he created: Bedroom in Arles (1888), The Night Café (1888), The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night (1888), Still Life: Vase With Twelve Sunflowers (1888)
Plum Tree in Blossom (After Hiroshige) 1888
This painting Plum Tree in the Blossom showed his love for the Japanese prints as well. His version is bolder than the original Japanese print.
Van Gogh's friend and artist companion, Gauguin agrees to meet him in Arles. During November, they painted together. Ganguin painted van Gogh's portrait shown here: The Painter of Sunflowers: Portrait of Vincent van Gogh (1888). Their relationship deteriorated and the two began to argue all the time over art.
Gauguin and van Gogh's Falling Out
Van Gogh confronted Gauguin with a razor blade. Afraid of what would happen, Vincent fled their home and went to a brothel where he cut off the bottom part of his left ear and handed the severed tissue wrapped in newspaper to a prostitute. He asked her to "keep this object carefully". Days later, van Gogh was hospitalized and kept in a critical state. The picture here is a self portrait with his damaged ear (1889).
Reverend Salles accompanied van Gogh to this hospital in Saint Remy, a hospital and former monastery, 20 miles away from Arles. Vincent's brother Theo arranged for him 2 adjoining cells. One cell was used as a studio. The hospital was located in an area with olive trees, vineyards, and cornfields. Many of his paintings emerged from this setting such as The Starry Night (shown here), Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background 1889, Cypresses 1889, Cornfield with Cypresses 1889.
His final work was to believed Daubigny's Garden (1890) shown here.
In his last weeks at Saint-Remy, Van Gogh's thoughts returned to his "memories of the North". Church at Auvers (shown here), is reminiscent of the northern scene. Wheat Field with Crows (July 1890) is an example of the unusual double square canvas which he developed in the last weeks of his life. It is among his most haunting and elemental works.
Wheat Field with Crows'
Throughout his life van Gogh had suffered with mental illness but towards the end of his life, it became uncontrollable and he was even unable to paint. His depression deepened and on July 27, 1890 he walked into a field and shot himself in the chest.