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Vincent Van Gogh
Transcript of Vincent Van Gogh
Born: March 30, 1853 in the Netherlands
Vincent had three sisters and two brothers. Vincent was closest with his brother, Theo, who was one year younger than him.
Vincent was a common name in the Van Gogh family tree. Vincent's great great great grandfather was named Vincent and so was his great grandfather, who was a sculptor. His grandfather was also named Vincent. His grandfather had 6 sons; 3 became art dealers, including another Vincent who was referred to as Uncle Cent in some of Vincent's letters.
Vincent's father was Reverend Theodorus Van Gogh and his mother was Anna Cornelia Carbentus Van Gogh. Exactly one year before he was born, Vincent's parents had a baby who died during childbirth. They named him Vincent. When the future artist was born one year later, they went with the same name, possibly in memory of their other baby. (The practice of reusing a name was not unusual in those days.)
At age 16, Vincent went to France where he got a job working at his uncle's art dealership. However, Vincent enjoyed talking about art rather than trying to sell it. In 1873, the gallery transferred him to London & then again to Paris in 1875. After this, Van Gogh lost all desire to become an art dealer.
Vincent always had a passion for drawing; however, his childhood drawings were nowhere near as detailed as his later works.
Vincent as a child
Vincent was a self-taught artist. He started with copying prints and reading 19th century drawing manuals. His technique came from the belief that to be a great artist you must first master drawing. Because Van Gogh believed it necessary to draw before painting, he focused on learning the essentials of figure drawing and depicting landscapes in the correct perspective.
Vincent would only start painting once he was satisfied with his drawing technique.
Vincent completed over 1000 drawings. He regarded drawing as a basic task that allowed him to grow artistically and to study form and movement. Drawing was also a means of channeling his depression. Vincent's drawings are special because you can admire his unique art style without the need for color. He used anything he could get his hands on for drawing -- pencil, chalk, pen, and even charcoal, although he often mixed mediums when drawing.
Drawing also served a secondary purpose for Van Gogh. --which was to capture light and images more quickly than with painting. He would frequently sketch his vision for a painting before starting the painting itself.
Van Gogh did more than just sketches, as you most likely know. He is best known for his paintings; most of his paintings were painted using oil based paints. However, Van Gogh also used other mediums to paint -- one of which was watercolor. In his lifetime, Van Gogh painted nearly 150 watercolor paintings. These paintings did not feature his unique brush stroke textures. His watercolors are still undeniably him because of their bold, bright colors. Van Gogh started using watercolors to add shading to his drawings but the more he used them, the more they became works of art on their own.
In the early years of of his career, Van Gogh painted with dark, melancholy colors. This color palette however fits with his subjects at the time which were mostly miners and farmers. His palette changed instantly when he moved to Paris, where he drew influences from the impressionists and neo-impressionists.
Vincent started using light, happier colors, like reds, yellows, oranges, greens, and blues. He also experimented with the broken brush strokes of the Impressionists and with the pointillist technique of the Neo-Impressionists which uses small points of a single color to mix in with surrounding colors to make another color. An example of his attempt at this style can be seen in his self portrait below.
Van Gogh's art style during the middle of his career was also largely influenced by Japanese prints. You can see this in the way that he painted dark outlines around objects, filling these areas with thick color. His choice of colors varied with his moods. Van Gogh occasionally restricted his palette. You can see this in his painting, Sunflowers, which is almost entirely composed of yellows.
Van Gogh painted over 30 self portraits from 1886 to 1889. Vincent used portrait paintings as a method of introspection
10 of the 30 most expensive paintings ever sold were painted by Van Gogh
Later that year, when he was released from the asylum, Vincent moved to Auvers-sur-Oise, France. On July 27, 1890, he attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest. Following the suicide attempt, he walked back to his home and passed out. He was later found, and a doctor temporarily stabilized him. His brother, Theo, came to see him two days later and found Vincent sitting up in bed and smoking a pipe. Later that day (July 29, 1890), he died in Theo's arms. Vincent was 37 years old.
Theo died 6 months later and is buried next to Vincent in the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, France.
Vincent's mother threw out several pieces of his artwork.
Paul Gauguin's portrait of Van Gogh
Paul Gauguin's Tribute to Vincent painted after Vincent's death
Theo van Gogh
Wil van Gogh
Cornelis Vincent van Gogh
Anna Cornelia van Gogh
Elisabeth Huberta Du Quesne-van Gogh
After his time in England and failing as an art dealer, Vincent went home and decided to study religion and become a priest like his father. However, Vincent never did things the easy way. When studying for the entrance exam, he would practically torture himself, sometimes even sleeping outside on some of the coldest days of the year. Somehow, using these borderline insane tactics, he was able to get into the school -- only to come to the realization that the school wasn't right for him.
After Vincent left the the theology school, he connected with an Evangelical Church that sent him to live in Wasmes, Belgium, a mining town, where he was going to preach. He lived off an allowance paid by the church. It was during this time that Van Gogh started painting miners. These tended to be dark paintings featuring realism in their style. Vincent believed he needed to live like the poorest of the miners in order to understand them. However, the church cut him off saying that they appreciated his work but his ideas were a little too extreme for them, regarding his desire to live the life of a martyr.
After leaving Wasmes, Vincent went to Paris where he met the new impressionists. Vincent's art style changed because of this meeting. He realized that his view of modern art differed from the rest of the world, so he adapted his work by adding bright colors and experimenting with color. While in Paris, Vincent lived with his brother, Theo, who did not enjoy having Vincent live with him in his one room apartment.
In 1888, Vincent moved to Arles, France into a yellow house where he lived with Paul Gauguin. It was during this time that Vincent started to suffer from occasional seizures. There have been many theories about the cause of these seizures, including epilepsy and possible lead poisoning.
Vincent was a serious, silent and thoughtful child. He went to the village school in 1860 which was taught by a single nun. From 1861 to 1864, he and his sister Anna were taught at home by a governess. In 1864, Vincent started school at the Jan Provily's boarding school, about 20 miles from home. In 1866, at age 13, he attended Vincent Willem II College where he learned art from Constantijn Huysmans.
Van Gogh also suffered from depression. Following a disagreement with Paul Gauguin, Vincent cut off his ear lobe. There have been many theories trying to explain this traumatic event, most of them leading to the conclusion of mental illness. When the story has been retold, it has been inaccurately reported that Van Gogh cut off his "ear" as opposed to his ear lobe.
Red Vineyard - the only painting sold in his lifetime
After several suicide attempts, Vincent voluntarily entered St. Peter's Asylum. It was here that Vincent did some of his most recognized work, the most famous being Starry Night.
Here are some of Van Gogh's paintings of St. Peter's Asylum:
An original Van Gogh painting can be viewed at the Marine Art Museum 20 miles from La Crosse in Winona, Minnesota.
Olive Tree in a Mountain Landscape
Harvest in Provence of Wheat Field with Sheaves
Wheat Field with Crows
Yellow House in Arles
Church at Auvers
Fishing Boats on the Beach
Paul Gaugain's Arm Chair
A Pair of Shoes
Old Man with His Head in His Hands
Skull in Profile
Skeleton Smoking Cigaret
Don Mclean wrote a tribute song titled "Vincent"
It was during this time in Paris when Vincent met Paul Gauguin, who would become a lifelong friend and rival. At the time of their meeting, Gauguin was trying to sell his art and became acquainted with Theo who was an art dealer. Vincent and Theo were both very impressed by Gauguin's art.