Vincent van Gogh was born in Holland in 1853, the oldest of a minister's
six children. At 16, he went to work in his uncle's art galleries
in Holland, England, and France. After six years, van Gogh quarreled
with his employers and resigned. He served briefly as a preacher,
but at the age of 27 van Gogh decided to become a painter. He studied
briefly at an art school in Brussels but eventually went to live in
the country, teaching himself to draw by sketching the peasants at
In 1886 van Gogh went to Paris to live with his younger brother
Theo, who worked in an art gallery. Through Theo he met many artists,
including Impressionist painters Edgar
Degas, Georges Seurat, and Paul Gauguin. He abandoned his dark,
gloomy colors and began to use the light, shimmering colors and
broken brushstrokes of Impressionism.
In February of 1888, he left Paris for the warmth of Arles in the
south of France. There van Gogh began to develop his own style of
Van Gogh's friend, Paul Gauguin, soon joined him in Arles. However,
the two argued frequently. Throughout his life van Gogh suffered
from periods of depression. These culminated in a severe mental
collapse, in the throes of which van Gogh cut off his own ear. He
returned to painting, but he began to suffer from hallucinations
and blackouts. He entered a hospital and later, at his own request,
a psychiatric hospital.
In spite of his illness, van Gogh painted 150 canvases during
the last six months of his life. In February of 1890, he received
the news that his first painting had sold the only sale during his
lifetime. In May of 1890, when his mental health seemed to be improving,
he checked out of the hospital. He placed himself under the care
of a doctor near Paris. There he painted constantly, but feared
a recurrence of the attacks. He felt he had been a terrible burden
to his brother Theo, who had financially and spiritually supported
him throughout his adult life. Van Gogh shot himself on July 27.
He died two days later. Today, his paintings are among the most
well known and valued in the world.
movement in painting in which the emphasis on light and color, loose
brush strokes, ordinary subject matter; creates the "impression"
of a moment in time. Dabs and strokes of color are used to depict
the natural appearances of objects and reflected light.
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