In 1890 spectacular Artist and tortured soul, Vincent van Gogh, shoots himself with a pistol, dying some 29 hours later on the 29th of July.
Vincent Willem Van Gogh was born in Groot-Zundert, Netherland on the 30th of March 1853. His father, Theodorus van Gogh was a minister and his mother, Anna Cornelia Carbentus, was an artist. Art Also played a large part in the life of his father’s family for many generations. He attended the local village school briefly at the age of 7 before being home schooled with his brothers and sisters a year later. But at the age of 11 he was sent to boarding school, far from his family. He studied art under Constantijn C. Huysmans and learnt to speak French, English and German but due to financial constraints he was forced to leave school and start work at the age of 15.
His uncle (also Vincent) gained him employment with an art dealership, Goupil & Cie, who sent him to work in England in 1873 (then aged 20). He loved the culture in England and earning a respectable wage, Vincent seemed very happy. He fell for Eugenie Loyer, the daughter of his landlady, but when she turned down his marriage proposal he became deeply depressed. Van Gogh became isolated finding solace in god. He moved to France but the change of scenery didn’t relief his growing depression. He lost his enthusiasm for his work and even put off potential buyers, growing a hatred for how art was merely sold as a commodity rather than appreciated for its own sake. In 1876 due to his new work ethic he was made unemployed by Goupil & Cie. Van Gough returned to England and began to teach at a Methodist boarding school and it was here that he decided he wanted to become a minister like his father.
Van Gough moved to Amsterdam and lived with his uncle, Jan van Gogh, planning to attend the School of Theology. He studied for almost a year but failed the entrance exam. He was distraught about failing but not deterred from a religious life he became a missionary in a coal mining village in Belgium. With very little money Van Gogh could only find shelter at the back of a bakers shop, where he could be heard sobbing at night, lying on his bed of straw. When the church found out they ordered him to leave and end his missionary work as they thought it was degrading and an embarrassment to the church.
Van Gogh returned home to live with his parents as per their request and there he remained for a year. His parents became increasingly worried about their son’s depressive state and Vincent’s father looked into having him committed. Van Gough once again moved to Belgium where he began to part more seriously. With financial assistance from his younger brother, Theo, he attended an art academy in Brussels.
In 1880 Van Gogh returned to Etten in the Netherlands where his family lived and began to spend a lot of time with his widowed cousin, Kee Vos-Stricker. Vincent was always drawn to women in trouble and with his cousin as a single mum Van Gogh believed he could look after her. He fell for her and soon after he proposed to her. Her answer was a blunt “no” and Vincent fled back to Amsterdam. He continued in his pursuit of his cousin by mail and his persistence began to anger his cousin and uncle. He left Amsterdam and his religious beliefs behind and moved to The Hague where he met a young prostitute called Clasina Maria Hoornik. She became his mistress and he lived with her and her two children. But economic reasons coursed her to return to prostitution and Van Gogh was under continued pressure from his father to leave her. In 1882 he left and began painting once more.
In 1884 his neighbour, Margot Begemann, began to accompany him when he would sketch the local scenery and she soon fell in love with him. They married despite objections from their families.
In 1885 he painted his first major work known as “The Potato Eaters” and in ’86 he moved in with his brother Theo, an art dealer, in Paris. The convention of artists in Paris at the time was impressionist art full of light and colour, and Van Gough became inspired in this environment. He also drew inspiration from Japanese art of the day and longed to one day travel there. In 1888 Van Gough moved to the South of France where the light was said to be better for painting. With virtually no money Van Gogh lived off bread and absinthe spending all his money on paint which he had also been known to digest.
One night Van Gogh visited a prostitute called Rachel and he offered her his freshly severed ear, requesting she keep it safe. The next day he was found by police and admitted to hospital. He gradually got better and was released in 1889 but the loneliness he felt soon drove him back and he began a period of day release from the hospital returning each night. The people of the town began to fear him and compiled a petition to have him removed. They got their wish when Van Gogh decided to move to an asylum in Saint Rémy de Provence.
While in hospital Van Gogh produced most of his most famous works including “the Red Vinyard” which was painted on the 4th of November and sold by his brother Theo for 400 francs (or £600 today) in January 1890. Van Gogh had started to get some form of recognition for his art having spent most of his life poor. Van Gogh left the Asylum and rented a room of his own in Auvers. He continued to paint an on one particular morning on the 27th of July 1980 Van Gough took a loaded pistol with him. He shot himself in the chest but instead of killing him instantly the bullet is believed to have ricocheted across his rib cage and got lodged in his spine hitting various organs but missing anything vital. He walked home and taken to hospital. When his brother Theo arrived Vincent was sitting up in bed smoking a pipe. Theo was preparing to take the seemingly healthy Vincent home when 29 hours after he shot himself, Vincent collapsed dead from an infection to the wound aged 37.
Despite relatively no recognition and being tolerated at best by most people he met in life he is now considered one of the greatest Dutch painters of all time who has influenced many others.