Vincent Van Gogh was born in the Brabant village of Zundert on March 30 1853. His father was a Protestant Minister, a year prior the family had birthed a still born child who was also named Vincent. At the age of eleven Vincent transferred from the local school in Zundert to a boarding school, he was not happy at this boarding school. At this time there was no signs of any artistic talent. At the age of thirteen he attended a secondary school in Tilburg, in his second academic year at the school he dropped out for an unknown reason, he never went back to school. At sixteen, Vincent’s uncle found him a job as a trainee at the international art dealer Goupil and Cie.
There was a long period of Vincent’s life where he appeared lost and couldn’t find his path. He hopped between a few different jobs, ranging from art dealer to lay preacher. Vincent and his brother often wrote letters to each other, in these letters Vincent would often include a few sketches with the letter. Theo, Vincent’s brother, told him to focus more on drawing as he had faith in Vincent as an artist, this was a turning point in Van Gogh’s life. He moved to Brussels in 1880 to work on drawing technique and to meet other artists.
Not surprisingly, Vincent’s parents were not very happy about his dreams of becoming an artist, this did not stop him. He took art lessons from his uncle, Anton Mauve. In 1881 Vincent moved back in with his parents, he continued honing his skills. Vincent at his point had now fallen in love with his cousin which further disappointed his family. On Christmas day 1881 he walked out on his parents and moved to Hague. An uncle had given Vincent his first commission which was twelve drawings of city views in Hague. In 1882 Vincent met Sien Hoornik who became his lover and model for his drawings. She was a former prostitute and was pregnant and already had a 5 year old daughter; Eventually they split up.
In 1883 Vincent moved back in with his parents in Nuenen, he began painting farmers, weavers and workers. He was in an ideal setting to be a “peasant painter”, he drew at every opportunity he had. He asked his brother if he could give his works to him in order for an allowance. Theo wasn’t able to sell any of his paintings. Vincent eventually moved to Paris unannounced.
During his time in Paris Vincent began to develop his own style with bright colors. His works slowly grew brighter while in Paris due to the influence of modern art. He also changed what he drew to more countryside and floral still lifes. He eventually grew tired of life in Paris and took a train that lasted a day and a night to arrive south of France. His style became more expressive at this time. Vincent began working with Paul Gauguin, they both had very different views on art which led to many arguments. Gauguin worked mainly from imagination while Vincent drew what he could see, their difference styles and lives caused tension to rise. When Gauguin threatened to leave it left Van Gogh so distraught that he cut off his own ear and wrapped it and presented it to a prostitute. He was admitted to the hospital for his ear and shortly after released.
In 1889 Vincent spent 1 year in the mental hospital in Saint-Remy-de-Provence. Once he had recovered he began painting again. His mental health fluctuated but he remained productive and produced around 150 drawings during this time. Vincent left the mental hospital in may of 1890. During this time he engulfed himself in art completing essentially 1 work a day. His mental health continued to decline though and on July 10 1890 Vincent shot himself in the chest with a pistol, ending his life. After Vincent had died there was a new found appreciation for his art that gave him the recognition he finally deserved.