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10 moments in the life of Vincent van Gogh

Today, 29 July 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of the death of Vincent Willem van Gogh, the legendary Dutch post-impressionist painter behind Starry Night and Café Terrace at Night. His talents went widely unrecognized until after his death. Van Gogh was a brilliant artist with a tormented soul suffering from a mental illness. Below, we look at ten moments in the life of van Gogh.

  • At the age of 16, Van Gogh was apprenticed to the art dealer Goupil & Co. in the Hague. He was posted to the firm’s London office in 1873, where he began collecting English prints and illustrations.
  • In 1880, Van Gogh travelled to Brussels and studied life drawing at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts to learn anatomy and physiognomy.
  • In 1883, at his parents’ new home in Nuenen, Van Gogh produced the first watercolours and paintings that he did not consider mere studies or exercises, but full-fledged works of art suitable for public exhibition.
  • In November 1885, Van Gogh spent three months in Antwerp, studying at the city’s academy and attending drawing classes in the evenings.
  • In 1886, Van Gogh immersed himself in the avant-garde art scene of Paris and experimented with the Pointillist technique, learning to employ the brush to create rhythmic patterns and adopting the use of contrasting hues and complimentary colors that have come to characterize his style.
  • In February of 1888, Van Gogh traveled to Arles to pursue his long-held interest in painting the lives of peasants in the vein of Jean-François Millet and Jules Breton.
  • On Christmas Eve 1888, Van Gogh threatened his friend Paul Gauguin and subsequently cut his own ear in a fit of violent passion.
  • On 8 May 1889, Van Gogh institutionalised himself at the St-Paul-de-Mausole hospice in St-Rémy-de-Provence. He found no companionship among the other inmates (many of whom were clinically insane) but began painting once more.
  • In his last months, Van Gogh began at last to experience some artistic recognition. He was invited to exhibit with the avant-garde artists’ society Les XX and sold a painting, Red Vineyard (1890), to the painter Anna Boch.
  • On 27 July 1890, Van Gogh returned from the fields covered with blood. This might have been a suicide attempt or an accident. He finally died in his brother Theo’s arms two days later.

Venture through his life and work with our new interactive site, Van Gogh: 125 Years of Inspiration and Mystery, featuring content from Oxford Art Online.

Featured Image: Irises, 1889 by Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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