- NAME: Vincent van Gogh
- OCCUPATION: Painter
- BIRTH DATE: March 30, 1853
- DEATH DATE: July 29, 1890
- Did You Know?: After having been physically and psychologically unstable, Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear and offered it to a prostitute.
- EDUCATION: Brussels Academy
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Zundert, Netherlands
- PLACE OF DEATH: Auvers-sur-Oise, France
- Full Name: Vincent Willem van Gogh
- AKA: Vincent van Gogh
- AKA: van Gogh
- Nickname: "Christ of the Coal Mines"
Best Known For
Vincent van Gogh is considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt, although he remained poor and virtually unknown throughout his life.
Vincent Van Gogh - Full Episode (44:14)
Watch a short video about Vincent Van Gogh and find out why the famous artists life came to a tragic end.
Work and solitude took its toll on van Gogh, and he started to act strangely from paint and turpentine fumes. Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear and delivered it to a prostitute.
While hospitalized, van Gogh worked in a studio set up by his brother Theo. Inspired by a dream, Vincent van Gogh painted "The Starry Night." He took his own life one year later at age 37 in Auvers sur Oise, near Paris.
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Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853, in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands. Van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter whose work, notable for its beauty, emotion and color, highly influenced 20th century art. He struggled with mental illness, and remained poor and virtually unknown throughout his life. Van Gogh died in France on July 29, 1890, at age 37, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"As for me, I am rather often uneasy in my mind, because I think that my life has not been calm enough; all those bitter disappointments, adversities, changes keep me from developing fully and naturally in my artistic career."
"I am a fanatic! I feel a power within me…a fire that I may not quench, but must keep ablaze."
"I get very cross when people tell me that it is dangerous to put out to sea. There is safety in the very heart of danger."
"I want to paint what I feel, and feel what I paint."
"As my work is, so am I."
"The love of art is the undoing of true love."
"When one has fire within oneself, one cannot keep bottling [it] up—better to burn than to burst. What is in will out."
"For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."
"I do not say that my work is good, but it's the least bad that I can do. All the rest, relations with people, is very secondary, because I have no talent for that. I can't help it."
"What is wrought in sorrow lives for all time."
"What I draw, I see clearly. In these [drawings] I can talk with enthusiasm. I have found a voice."
"Enjoy yourself too much rather than too little, and don't take art or love too seriously."
"But I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things."
Vincent van Gogh was born Vincent Willem van Gogh on March 30, 1853, in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands. His father, Theodorus van Gogh, was an austere country minister, and his mother, Anna Cornelia Carbentus, was a moody artist whose love of nature, drawing and watercolors was transferred to her son. Van Gogh was born exactly one year after his parents' first son, also named Vincent, was stillborn. At a young age—his name and birthdate already etched on his dead brother's headstone—van Gogh was melancholy.
At age 15, van Gogh's family was struggling financially, and he was forced to leave school and go to work. He got a job at his Uncle Cornelis' art dealership, Goupil & Cie., a firm of art dealers in The Hague. By this time, van Gogh was fluent in French, German and English, as well as his native Dutch.
In June of 1873, van Gogh was transferred to the Groupil Gallery in London. There, he fell in love with English culture. He visited art galleries in his spare time, and also became a fan of the writings of Charles Dickens and George Eliot. He also fell in love with his landlady's daughter, Eugenie Loyer. When she rejected his marriage proposal, van Gogh suffered a breakdown. He threw away all his books except for the Bible, and devoted his life to God. He became angry with people at work, telling customers not to buy the "worthless art," and was eventually fired.
Van Gogh then taught in a Methodist boys' school, and also preached to the congregation. Although raised in a religious family, it wasn't until this time that he seriously began to consider devoting his life to the church. Hoping to become a minister, he prepared to take the entrance exam to the School of Theology in Amsterdam. After a year of studying diligently, he refused to take the Latin exams, calling Latin a "dead language" of poor people, and was subsequently denied entrance.
The same thing happened at the Church of Belgium: In the winter of 1878, van Gogh volunteered to move to an impoverished coal mine in the south of Belgium, a place where preachers were usually sent as punishment. He preached and ministered to the sick, and also drew pictures of the miners and their families, who called him "Christ of the Coal Mines." The evangelical committees were not as pleased. They disagreed with van Gogh's lifestyle, which had begun to take on a tone of martyrdom. They refused to renew van Gogh's contract, and he was forced to find another occupation.
In the fall of 1880, van Gogh decided to move to Brussels and become an artist. Though he had no formal art training, his younger brother Theo, who worked as an art dealer, offered to support van Gogh financially.
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