Vincent van Gogh: biography
Vincent Van Gogh is an artist from the Netherlands, one of the most significant representatives of post-impressionism. He was working a lot and had fruitful results: for more than ten years he created a significant number of works which no one of the famous painters had had. He painted portraits and self-portraits, landscapes and still-life, cypresses, wheat fields, and sunflowers.
The artist was born near the southern border of the Netherlands in the little village of Groot-Zundert. He was born on the 30th of March, 1853 in the family of the pastor Theodorus van Gogh and his wife, Anna Cornelia Carbentus. In total, the family of van Goghs had six children. The younger brother Theo helped Vincent during all his life and took the active part in his difficult destiny.
In his family, Vincent was a complex disobedient child with some strangenesses that's why he was often punished. Out of home, on the contrary, he looked thoughtful, serious and quiet. He almost didn't play games with the children. The villagers considered him to be a modest, nice, friendly and compassionate kid. A the age of seven he was sent to the rural school, and a year later he left it and transferred to the homeschooling. In autumn of 1864 of the boy was sent to the boarding school in Zevenbergen.
Departure hurt the boy's soul so much, and he suffered a lot. In 1866 he transferred to another boarding school. Vincent was good at languages, where he acquired his first skills in the painting. In 1868 during the academic year, the boy left the school studies and let for home. He finished his education at this point. The boy reminded his as something cold and gloomy.
Traditionally the ancestors of Van Goghs realized themselves in two spheres of activities: the sales of pictures and church activities. Later Vincent would try himself both as a preacher, and as an art dealer, fully dedicating himself to work. When Vincent had achieved certain progress, he refused both things and dedicated himself to the painting.
In 1868 the fifteen-year-old young man entered the branch of art Goupil & Cie in Hague. For his excellent work and curiosity, Vincent was sent to the London branch. For two years which Vincent passed in London, he became a real traveling salesman and expert on the English masters’ engravings. Moreover, he quoted Dickens and Eliot and began to have the veneer. Van Gogh received the prospect of becoming a brilliant consignee of the central office of Goupil in Paris where he had to relocate.
In 1875 there took place events which changed Vincent’s life. In the letter to Theo Vincent described his state as "killing loneliness." The researchers of the artist’s biography assume that the denied love became the reason for such state.
It wasn't precisely known who was the object of his love. Possibly, that version wasn't real. Even the transfer to Paris couldn't have changed the situation. He lost his interest to Goupil and was fired.
Тheology and missionary activities
Trying to find himself, Vincent became confident in his religious mission. In 1877 he moved to his uncle Johannes to Amsterdam and prepared to enter the faculty of Theology. Though, he was disappointed in his studies and gave up the education and left. His desire to serve people led him to the missionary school. In 1879 he received the position of the preacher in Vam in the south of Belgium.
He taught God's law in the miner's center in Borinage, helped families of miners, visited patients, trained children, read preaches. Moreover, to earn additionally, he drew the maps of Palestine. He lived in a miserable shack, ate bread and water and slept on the floor torturing himself physically. Moreover, he helped workers to fight for their rights.
The local authorities removed him from his position as they didn't accept don't accept rough activities and extremes. During this period he drew many paintings of miners, their wives, and children.
Formation of the artist
To leave the depression connected with the events in Paturage, Van Gogh returned to the painting. His brother Theo supported him, and he attended the Academy of Fine Arts. But a year later he left his studies and went to his parents. He continued his self-education.
He fell in love again. This time it was his cousin. His feelings weren't mutual, but he continued his courtings what resulted in the irritation of his relatives. As a result, they asked him to leave. Because of the new shock, the artist refused to have a personal life and went to Hague to get engaged in the painting. Here he took lessons from Anton Mauve, he worked hard and observed the city life especially in the poor quarters. He studied "Drawing Course" of Charles Brague and made copies of lithographs. Vincent mastered how to combine different techniques on the canvas and tried to achieve the unusual color shades in his works.
The artist began to create the family one more time with the pregnant woman whom he met on the street. The woman with her children moved to his house and became a model for the painter. Because of this, he quarreled with his relatives and friends. Vincent himself felt happy but not for a long time. The awful character of the woman turned his life into a nightmare, and they separated.
The artist relocated to Province of Drenthe in the North of the Netherlands. Here he was living in the hut which he equipped as a workshop. He was painting landscapes, peasants, labor and life scenes. Early Van Gogh's work can be called realistic, though not without reservations. The absence of academic education affected his paintings in the lack of accuracy of the image of human figures.
From Drenthe Van Gogh relocated to his parents to Nuenen. Here he was painting a lot. During this period he completed hundreds of drawings and canvases. Along with the creative work he was engaged in the painting with his pupils, read a lot and took music lessons.
The themes of works of the Dutch period are the following - ordinary people and scenes painted in an expressive manner with the prevailing dark palette, gloomy and muffled tones. The picture The Potato Eaters (1885) represents the scene from the peasants’ life belongs to the masterpieces of this period.
After long-lasting reflections, Vincent decided to live and create in Paris. He moved here at the end of February 1986. Here he met his brother Theo who became the director of the art gallery. The artistic life of the French capital of this period was very saturated.
The exhibition of the Impressionists on Laffite Street became a significant event. For the first time there demonstrated their works Signac and Seurat who became the leaders of the post-impressionistic movement which marked the final stage of the impressionism. Impressionism is a kind of the revolution in the art which changed the attitude to the painting and displaced the academic techniques and subjects. The first impression and pure colors were considered to be at the forefront. The preference was given to the painting in the open air.
In Paris Van Gogh's brother, Theo patronized him. He took him to his house and presented him to the painters. In the workshop of the artist traditionalist Fernand Cormon, he got acquainted with Toulouse-Lautrec, Emile Bernard, and Louis Anquetin. The artist was greatly impressed by the creative work of the impressionists and postimpressionists. In Paris, he became addicted to drinking the absinthe and even painted the still life on this subject.
The Parisian period (1986-1988) was the most saturated and resultative. The artist enriched his collection with 230 works. It was the time of searching for the necessary technique and research of the innovative tendencies of the modern painting. The artist formed the new view on the painting. His realistic approach was changed for the new manner developing towards the impressionism and postimpressionism what was reflected in his still-life with the flowers and landscapes.
The brother presented Vincent to the eminent representatives of this genre: Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and others. With his friends who were artists he often organized open-air. His palette was getting brighter, and with time he began to have a lot of colors what was characteristic for his creative works during the last years.
In Paris Van Gogh led active social life visited the same places which his brothers did. In Tambourine he even had a short love affair with its host Agostina Segatori who once posed for Degas. He painted the portrait behind the small table in the cafe and a couple of ''nude'' works. The shop of Tanga’s father where there were sold the paints and other materials for the artists were on sale became one more place for their meetings. Here, as well as in many other similar spaces, the artists exposed their paintings.
There was formed "Petit Boulevard" artists group which united Van Gogh and his companions who hadn’t reached the peaks of the masters of "Grande Boulevard" – more famous and recognized artists. The competitive spirit and tension which reigned in the Parisian society of that period became intolerable for the impulsive and uncompromising artist. He initiated disputes, quarrels and decided to leave the capital.
The cut-off of the ear
In February 1888 he set off to Provence and fell in love with it. Theo sponsored his brother, sending him 250 francs per month. In return, Vincent sent his pictures to his brother. Vincent rented four rooms in the hotel, ate in the cafes which owners became his friend and posed for his paintings.
When spring o arrived, the artist was enchanted and captivated by the blossoming trees lighted by the southern sun. He was delighted with the bright colors and transparency of the air. The artist left the ideas of the impressionism step by step, but he was still committed to the light palette and open airs. In his paintings there prevailed the yellow color which acquired the special shine which came from the depth.
To have a possibility to work at night in the open air, he fixed the candles on his hat and his sketchbook. In such a way he lighted his workplace. The artist painted Starry Night Over the Rhone and The Night Café in such a way. The arrival of Paul Gauguin whom Vincent repeatedly invited to come to Arles became the significant event in the artist’s life. Enthusiastic and fruitful co-residence came to an end because of the quarrel and their break-up. Self-confident, pedantic Gauguin was a complete opposite to unfocused and anxious Van Gogh.
The expressive and emotional showdown before Christmas of 1888 became the epilog of this story. Then Vincent cut off his ear. Gauguin was afraid that somebody wanted to attack him and went into hiding in the hotel. Vincent wrapped his the blood-stained earlobe in paper and sent it to their common acquaintance – prostitute Rachel. His friend Armand Roulin found Vincent in the pool of blood. The wound was healing quickly, but because of the problems with the mental health, he again returned to the hospital bed.
The residents of Arles began to be afraid of the citizen who was very different from them. In 1889 they wrote the petition in which they demanded to save them from "the red-haired madman." Vincent was aware of the fact that his situation was dangerous and he by his own will went to Saint-Paul Asylum in Saint-Rémy. During his treatment, he was allowed to paint in the open air under the supervision of the medical employees. In such a way there were created his works with characteristic wavy lines and swirls (The Starry Night, Road with Cypress and Star, etc.).
In Saint-Rémy the artist's active periods changed for the long breaks caused by his depression. During one of the crisis periods, he swallowed the paints. Despite the frequent worsening of the disease, his brother Theo contributed to Vincent's participation in the September Salon of Independent Artists in Paris. In January of 1890, Vincent exposed his work Red Vineyards at Arles and sold it for four hundred francs what was rather a decent sum. It was the only picture which was sold during the artist's lifetime.
The artist was delighted. He was working without a break. His brother Theo was also inspired by the success of Red Vineyards. He supplied Vincent with the paints, but he began to eat it. In May 1890 Theo made an agreement with the homeopathic therapist Dr. Gachet about Vincent's treatment in his clinic. The doctor himself was also fond of painting that's why he began to cure the artist with great pleasure. Vincent also liked Gachet and saw a kind-hearted and optimistic person in him.
In a month Van Gogh was allowed to go to Paris. His brother met him with restraint. He had some financial problems, and his daughter was seriously ill. Such reception was stressful for Vincent. He understood that he was becoming a burden for his brother. In a shock, he returned to the clinic.
On the 27th of July 27, he, as usual, appeared on the open-air but returned not with the sketches but with the bullet in his breast. The bullet which came from the gun got under his rib and moved aside his heart. The artist himself came back to the shelter and went to his bed. Vincent was lying in bed and quietly smoking a pipe. There was an impression that the injury didn't hurt him.
Dr. Gachet telegraphed for Theo. He came at once and began to calm his brother saying that he would get help and he didn't have to give way to despair. Vincent answered with the following words: "The sadness will last forever." The artist died at half past one p.m. on the 29th of July. He was buried in Auvers-sur-Oise on the 30th of July.
A number of the artist's friends came to pay their respects to him. His latest pictures were hung on the walls of the room. Dr. Gachet wanted to say the speech, but he was crying so much that hardly managed to say some words which concluded that Vincent had been a great artist and an honest person. Also, he told that the art had been above all for the painter and it would pay him back, and his name would be immortalized.
The artist's brother Theo Van Gogh died half a year later. He didn't forgive himself the quarrels with his brother. His despair which he shared with his mother became unbearable for himself, and he had got the nervous breakdown. After Vincent's death he wrote the following words to his brother:
"One cannot write how sad one is, nor find solace in pouring out one's heart. It is a grief that will weigh on me for a long time and will certainly not leave my thoughts as long as I live, but if one should want to say anything about it, it is that he has found the rest he so much longed for. Life weighed so heavily upon him, but as happens so often everyone is now full of praise, also for his talent. Oh, Mother, he was so very much my brother ".
And this is the last letter of Vincent written by him after the quarrel:
"My impression is that as we’re all a little dazed, and moreover all working quite hard, it’s relatively unimportant to insist on having very clear-cut definitions of the position in which we find ourselves. You surprise me a little, seeming to want to force the situation, being in disagreement. Can I do anything about it – perhaps not – but have I done something wrong, or anyway can I do something or other that you would like? Whatever the case, again a good handshake in thought – and it nevertheless gave me a lot of pleasure to see you all again. Be very much assured of that".
In 1914 Theo's widow reburied his remains near Vincent's grave.
Vincent's failed personal life could become one of the reasons for his mental disease. The artist didn't meet his companion of life. He had his first panic attack after the refusal of Ursula Loyer's daughter. He secretly fell in love with her. His proposal was very sudden, and the girl was shocked and refused to him
This situation was the same with his widowed cousin Kee Vos, but that time Vincent decided not to give up. The woman didn't accept his courtings. During his visit to the relative of his beloved Vincent put his hand in the flame of the candle, and told that he would hold it here until the woman accepted his proposal to be his wife. Such Vincent's action finally convinced the girl's father that he had matters with the mentally ill person. The girl's father couldn't take it anymore, and he chased the artist out of the house.
The sexual frustration influenced the artist's nervous state. Vincent began to like prostitutes, especially not very young and not beautiful whom he could teach things. In a short time, he chose the pregnant prostitute whom he took to his home with her five-year-daughter. After the son's birth, Vincent got emotionally attached to children and began to think about the marriage.
The woman posed for the artist and had lived with him for about a year. Because of her, he had to get treatment for gonorrhea. Finally, their relations had become worse, and the artist became conscious of the fact that the woman was very cynical, cruel, careless and orgiastic. After the break-up, the woman returned to her former job, and Van Gogh left Hague.
In 1844 the 41-year-old woman by called Margo Begemann was chasing Vincent. She was his neighbor in Nuenen and was wanted to get married very much. Van Gogh somewhat out of pity agreed to marry her. The parents didn't accept this marriage. Margo almost committed suicide, but Van Gogh saved her life. Later he had many disorderly affairs; he visited brothels and from time to time got treatment for venereal diseases.