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Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 in Groot-Zundert, a village in the southern Netherlands to a devout Catholic family, with his father Theodorus being a minister of the Reformed Dutch Church. Van Gogh loved to draw all the time as a child and amassed a large collection of images in the years leading to him becoming an artist.
Vincent van Gogh initially wished to be a pastor and from 1879 he worked as a missionary. Whilst working in the mining towns of Belgium, van Gogh sketched people from the local community, which inspired early works such as The Potato Eaters of 1885. After to moving to Antwerp in late 1885, the post-Impressionist painter was heavily influenced by Peter Paul Rubens, encouraging him to broaden his colour palette. Japanese art gained exposure in the West around this time, and van Gogh adopted the woodcut styles of Japan into the background of a number of his paintings. Vincent also started drinking around this time absinthe, a psychoactive spirit popular with bohemians at the time, which would play havoc with his pre-existing mental health issues.
In 1886, van Gogh moved to Paris, the epicentre of the art world at the time. He lived with his brother Theo, a doctor who supported Vincent emotionally and financially throughout his life. During the two years he lived in the French capital, the artist painted over 200 paintings and met the key Impressionist figures such as Cezanne and Toulouse-Lautrec. Disillusioned with the lack of public response to his work, Van Gogh moved to Arles for refuge, as excessive drinking and smoking took its toll on him. The local landscape and light enchanted him, with rich yellows, ultramarines and mauves replacing the muddy colours of his early work.
Paul Gauguin lived and painted with van Gogh during his time in Arles in 1888. The two were friends but constantly argued, and one argument escalated so far that van Gogh threatened the French artist with a razor blade. In a blind panic, van Gogh fled to a local brothel, cutting off his left ear. The artist finally admitted himself to an asylum in St. Remy, Provence and the clinic and gardens became the subjects of his final masterpieces. The majority of artworks from this period are characterized by intense colours and swirls, including one of his most famous paintings The Starry Night.
Shortly after being discharged from hospital, van Gogh's depression continued to affect him and on 27 July 1890, the artist shot himself in the chest with a revolver. Having never earned much in his own lifetime, his art has become a precious commodity for those investors who can afford it.
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