Arts Everyday Living: Vincent Van Gogh—Artistic Companion of the Week—Fast Facts

PLEASE click on the paintings and photographs to ENLARGE them.

The Artistic Companion of the Week is the legendary Vincent van Gogh.  I’ve provided a summary of his biography and a “teaser” of his works of art for today’s blog.  Coming Wednesday: Portrait of a Friendship.

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait at the Easel, 1888, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands


Born:   March 30, 1853, Zundert, Netherlands.

Died:   July 29, 1890, Auvers, France at age 37.

Family Connections–Art and Religion:    Father, Theodorus was Dutch Reformed minister; mother, Anna Carbentus (maiden name), her brother also had ministry; three uncles on the paternal side in art business.

Vincent van Gogh, c. 1866, about 13, photograph


Personal Background:  Oldest surviving son, christened Vincent Wilhelm, born exactly one year after stillborn brother (March 30, 1852), three sisters, two brothers—one of them Theo becomes major supporter; never married, although unrequited love for cousin and other affairs; history of depression and later seizures; institutionalization in mental hospital; suicide in July, 1890 (although now theory in 2011 biography that Vincent might have actually been murdered).

Early Career Attempts:   Left boarding school at 15. Worked for Goupil et Cie art gallery first in the Hague, then London and Paris, finally discharged.  Decides to follow father’s profession as preacher of the Gospel,” fails in theological studies; period as lay minister in mining area in southern Belgium, dismissed because of extreme behavior; experiences spiritual crisis.

Artistic Resume:   Decision to begin life as an artist, at 27, 1880.  “I want to do drawings which touch people,” declares to brother Theo in 1882. Some formal art training with Anton Mauve (cousin by marriage) in the Hague; also studied in art schools in Antwerp, Belgium and Paris (fellow school mate Toulouse-Lautrec).  However, development primarily self-directed.  Unusually short career, only about 10 years, produced extraordinary 2,100 works of art.  Sold one painting, The Red Vineyard, although beginning to be acknowledged as creative artist just before his death.

Vincent van Gogh, The Red Vineyard, 1888, oil on canvas, The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia




Van Gogh starts artistic quest in his native NETHERLANDS (1881-1886), painting with the palette of Rembrandt and inspired by the peasant subjects of Jean-Francois Millet,

Vincent van Gogh, Autumn Landscape, 1885, oil on canvas, Fitzwilliam  Museum, Cambridge, UK


then PARIS (1886-1888), living with Theo, where his art is transformed by Impressionist color.

Vincent van Gogh, Agostina Segatori, Sitting in the Cafe du Tambourin, 1887-1888, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

In February, 1888, Vincent next travels to ARLES, in southern France, immortalizing its surrounding countryside and its people.

Vincent van Gogh, L’Arlesienne, 1888, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

Vincent van Gogh, Sower with Setting Sun, 1888, oil on canvas, Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands



By May, 1889, Vincent commits himself to a mental institution at SAINT REMY, but never stops pursing his vision.  He is allowed to paint the nearby landscape–especially drawn to the cypresses that “are always occupying my thoughts.”*

Vincent van Gogh, Wheatfield with Cypresses, 1889, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY


Vincent’s final destination is AUVERS in May 1890, capturing its endless horizons and the vibrant flowers of its fields.

Vincent van Gogh, Vase with Cornflowers and Poppies, 1890, oil on canvas, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY


Best Friend and Confidante:   Theo, Van Gogh’s brother, 4 years younger; art dealer by profession; provided financial and psychological backing, responsible for Vincent’s creative legacy to posterity; died within a year of Vincent’s death, January 25, 1891; Vincent and Theo buried next to each other at Auvers.

Vincent and Theo van Gogh


*Vincent the Writer:  All quotes are from his letters (more than 900 in number).  Click on below,

Vincent van Gogh Letter Collection

Other Blogs–

This Day in Art: The Anniversary of Van Gogh’s Death and Last Works of Art

The above works of art are used solely for educational purposes.



























, ,