About Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh was an extraordinary painter. His paintings are bright and full of energy. He painted everything, including portraits of people, landscapes, his bedroom, and simple flower arrangements. He created over 900 paintings, but only sold one in his life, called The Red Vineyard at Arles, and it only went for a few dollars. During his lifetime, very few people even knew who he was. Now, over 100 years later, he is one of the most well-known and loved artists in history.
Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853, in Zundert, Netherlands. He was raised in a religious home. His father and grandfather were both ministers. Vincent had three sisters and two brothers. Throughout his life, he was closest to his younger brother, Theo. Vincent’s family had very little money. At age 15, he had to leave school and go to work. He became an art dealer like his uncle. He worked in galleries in Holland, England, and France. Vincent was very good with language and could speak French, German, English, and his native Dutch.
Vincent especially loved living in London. It was in London that he fell in love with his landlady's daughter, Eugenie Loyer. Vincent asked Eugenie to marry him, but she said no. Vincent was very sad and angry. He threw away all of his books, except for his Bible. He acted so angry that he also got fired from his job with the gallery.
Vincent left London and went to work as a missionary in a coal-mining community. People that lived there worked hard and were very poor. This is where Vincent started to draw. He drew lots of pictures of people. Most of them were in pencil and charcoal. His drawings were very dark and sad. His life as an artist was beginning.
When Vincent was 27, he decided he wanted to become an artist. Even though he had no formal training, he soon painted one of his most important paintings called The Potato Eaters.
The Potato Eaters, 1885
He was now totally dedicated to being an artist. People didn’t like his early work since he mostly painted poor people and used very dark colors.
At that time, there was an art movement called "Impressionism." These were paintings that used a lot of color, and that is what was popular. Vincent's brother, Theo, was an art dealer. He wrote many letters to Vincent, trying to convince him to make more colorful paintings, so that people would buy them.
The next year, Vincent moved to Paris and did start to paint using bright colors. He also used thick paint and bold brushstrokes. Impressionist painters like Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro influenced Vincent. He painted everything around him and was painting all the time. Vincent finally had a show of his new style. People liked his paintings, but he still didn't sell anything.
In 1888, Van Gogh moved south to Arles, France. He and his friend, Paul Gauguin, started an artists' commune. An artists' commune is a place where artists live and work together. The two rented a yellow house to live in. Vincent loved how vibrant the colors of Arles were and how bright the sun was.
Vincent began painting with great intensity and emotion. The colors in his paintings were becoming brighter and much more vibrant. He would sometimes put the paint onto the canvas directly from the tubes. This would leave the paint very thick and rough. Some of his painting would take weeks to dry because the paint was so thick.
Green Wheat Field with Cypress, 1889
Bedroom in Arles, 1888
Starry Night, 1889