While we are quite familiar with his Starry Night painting and the widely popular song that was written about it, there’s a lot that many people don’t know about this artist. Sure, he cut off his ear, but do you know why?
Vincent Van Gogh may be popular today, but up until his death, he was merely a struggling painter. His emotive works of art have influenced much of the 20th-century art we’ve seen, however, this same emotion that drove his passion would ultimately lead to his death.
He has quite a depressing start to life, being named after his parent’s first son that was stillborn. It must have been eery to see a tombstone with your name on it from such a young age, don’t you think?
The early days
Vincent stopped going to school when he was 15 as a result of financial constraints. He got a job at Goupil & Cie, his uncle’s art dealership. He then made his way to London after being transferred to the Groupil Gallery. Here he discovered his love for the English culture. He also fell in love with his landlady’s daughter. Unfortunately, she rejected him, and he had a nervous breakdown.
As a result, he decided that he would devote his life to God. He spent a year preparing to take the entrance exam to study at the School of Theology to become a minister. When the time came to take the exams in Latin, he called it dead language and never made it into the programme.
Van Gogh made his way to the Church of Belgium, where he was a preacher and minister. He also drew pictures of the miners. The heads of the church weren’t happy and did not renew his contract.
Becoming an artist
He decided to move to Brussels and become an artist in 1880, although he had no experience or training. In 1885, his first masterpiece “Potato Ears” was created during this time.
His passion became all-consuming and lead to him fighting with fellow artists which left him feeling alienated. He would eventually create over 2100 pieces of art. Unfortunately, his mother threw out most of them when he died. The works that we see today are the works that his brother managed to salvage.
Most notably, his painting “Portrait of Dr Gachet” is one of the most expensive paintings in the world and sold for $82.5 million. A great sum when playing for real money, or anything else!
Let’s not forget the ear
In 1888, Van Gogh was struggling and found himself living off bread, absinthe and coffee. As a result, he felt ill. In addition to this physical illness, he also suffered from psychological issues. It is even thought that he consumed turpentine and paint at some point. After an argument with a caregiver, he cut off his ear with a razor and gave it to a prostitute for safekeeping.
It’s quite the story and it doesn’t end there. We’ll share more about Vincent’s life in posts to come.