Vincent Van Gogh Masterpieces – Lesser Known Works

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Vincent Van Gogh, in the course of only 10 short years, produced a vast and incredible body of work. Succeeding Rembrandt as the most recognizable Dutch artist, Van Gogh’s work, along with Cezanne and Gauguin, is universally recognized for extending the Impressionist work of the era and crafting the Post-Impressionist movement along with Expressionism. During his lifetime, Van Gogh broke down much of his work into themed series and groupings of paintings, including the Sunflowers, Wheat Fields and Self-Portraits for which he is so well known. However there were numerous other works, such as Van Gogh’s Yellow Chair, that have entranced scholars for decades.

Paintings by Van Gogh in Nuenen – 1883-1885

Van Gogh’s early work shows little of the impressionism that would later inform much of his work. However, in paintings such as Cottage with Decrepit Barn and Stooping Woman, completed in July of 1885 in Nuenen, Van Gogh explored his early predilection towards painting the same work many times to capture different aspects of the same subject. Numerous other paintings such as Cottage with Trees and Cottage with Peasant Woman Digging depict similar scenes under different circumstances.

During his two years in Nuenen, Van Gogh completed 192 paintings, many of them of peasants and similar settings. These works all culminated in his first unmitigated masterpiece, The Potato Eaters. Before reaching Paris in 1886, Van Gogh spent a small portion of time in Antwerp studying at the Art Academy. It is here he painted works such as the Skeleton with Cigarette while studying the human form.

Paintings by Van Gogh in Paris – 1886-1888

In the next two years, spent in Paris, Van Gogh completed another 221 paintings, while exploring the Impressionist style of the time and altering his own methods substantially. Paintings such as the Fritillaries by Van Gogh depicted still life images of simple flowers that Van Gogh would continue studying for years, engendering his interest in foliage and the depiction of life cycles. Other images, painted later during his stay in Paris included Van Gogh’s The Yellow Books and Yellow House, precursors to his latter life obsession with yellow in his paintings. After his earlier stay in Antwerp, he continued to make repeated studies of the human body including his own in the self-portraits. Other paintings such as the little girls continued this intrigue with human form.

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Paintings by Van Gogh in Arles – February 1888 – May 1889

When Van Gogh left Paris in 1888 for Arles, he made a decided change to his style. Van Gogh’s paintings in Provence focus greatly on nature and the world around him and explored the Post-Impressionist styles that would eventually define his life’s work. The field at Arles proved to be a major source of inspiration for Van Gogh, prompting numerous paintings from his window. The Sower, painted repeatedly in the fall of 1888 is a return to Van Gogh’s early life depictions of farmers and workers, yet his shift in style is clearly evident. Van Gogh’s still lifes from this period are equally famous including his three legged chair picture.

The three legged stool picture Van Gogh painted, as simple as it might appear is often the most studied of his works, both because of its simplicity and the underlying complexity that some assume is assuredly there. With The Garden of Arles, Van Gogh took to the depiction of natural wonders in varying seasons, a similar technique to his Sunflower and Wheat Field paintings. Peach Blossom in the Crau, another famous painting from a series of paintings depicting flowering in the spring is often studied for its unique use of color.

Paintings by Van Gogh in the Asylum, Saint-Remy – May 1889-May 1890

When Van Gogh had himself committed to the asylum in Saint-Remy in 1889, he did not cease painting. Rather, he kept a studio in the asylum and painted prolifically. While Starry Night and the Wheat Fields outside of his window are considered his most famous masterpieces from this period, the unique style of swirls and patterns that marked his stay in Saint Remy was put to use in numerous other works.

In depicting The Hills behind the Wall, Van Gogh repeatedly painted the same scene from his window in the asylum of the hills and farmland that rose beyond the wall surrounding the asylum. Similarly, Van Gogh painted Ravine from memory. Other paintings from this time period include Van Gogh’s Midday Rest, La Promenade and depictions of Almond Blossoms in the gardens.

After leaving the Saint Remy Asylum in May, Van Gogh traveled to Auvers-sur-Oise and to the ministrations of Dr. Gachet. The Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Van Gogh is one of the most expensive Van Gogh paintings ever sold and the dual versions of the painting have been studied extensively by scholars trying to discern the mental state of Van Gogh during those final summer months.

 

Vincent van Gogh Biography

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born March 30, 1853 , Zundert , Netherlands
died July 29, 1890 , Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris , France

In full Vincent Willem van Gogh. Dutch painter, generally considered the greatest after Rembrandt, and one of the greatest of the Post-Impressionists. The striking colour, emphatic brushwork, and contoured forms of his work powerfully influenced the current of Expressionism in modern art. Van Gogh’s art became astoundingly popular after his death, especially in the late 20th century, when his work sold for record-breaking sums at auctions around the world and was featured in blockbuster touring exhibitions. In part because of his extensive, published letters, van Gogh has also been mythologized in the popular imagination as the quintessential tortured artist.

Early life

Van Gogh, the eldest of six children of a Protestant pastor, was born and reared in a small village in the Brabant region of the southern Netherlands . He was a quiet, self-contained youth, spending his free time wandering the countryside to observe nature. At 16 he was apprenticed to The Hague branch of the art dealers Goupil and Co., of which his uncle was a partner.

Van Gogh worked for Goupil in London from 1873 to May 1875 and in Paris from that date until April 1876. Daily contact with works of art aroused his artistic sensibility, and he soon formed a taste for Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and other Dutch masters, although his preference was for two contemporary French painters, Jean-François Millet and Camille Corot, whose influence was to last throughout his life. Van Gogh disliked art dealing. Moreover, his approach to life darkened when his love was rejected by a London girl in 1874. His burning desire for human affection thwarted, he became increasingly solitary. He worked as a language teacher and lay preacher in England and, in 1877, worked for a bookseller in Dordrecht , The Netherlands. Impelled by a longing to serve humanity, he envisaged entering the ministry and took up theology; however, he abandoned this project in 1878 for short-term training as an evangelist in Brussels . A conflict with authority ensued when he disputed the orthodox doctrinal approach. Failing to get an appointment after three months, he left to do missionary work among the impoverished population of the Borinage, a coal-mining region in south western Belgium . There, in the winter of 1879-80, he experienced the first great spiritual crisis of his life. Living among the poor, he gave away all his worldly goods in an impassioned moment; he was thereupon dismissed by church authorities for a too-literal interpretation of Christian teaching.

Penniless and feeling that his faith was destroyed, he sank into despair and withdrew from everyone. “They think I’m a madman,” he told an acquaintance, “because I wanted to be a true Christian. They turned me out like a dog, saying that I was causing a scandal.” It was then that van Gogh began to draw seriously, thereby discovering in 1880 his true vocation as an artist. Van Gogh decided that his mission from then on would be to bring consolation to humanity through art. “I want to give the wretched a brotherly message,” he explained to his brother Theo. “When I sign [my paintings] ‘Vincent,’ it is as one of them.” This realization of his creative powers restored his self-confidence.

The productive decade

His artistic career was extremely short, lasting only the 10 years from 1880 to 1890. During the first four years of this period, while acquiring technical proficiency, he confined himself almost entirely to drawings and watercolours. First, he went to study drawing at the Brussels Academy ; in 1881 he moved to his father’s parsonage at Etten, The Netherlands, and began to work from nature.

Van Gogh worked hard and methodically but soon perceived the difficulty of self-training and the need to seek the guidance of more experienced artists. Late in 1881 he settled at The Hague to work with a Dutch landscape painter, Anton Mauve. He visited museums and met with other painters. Van Gogh thus extended his technical knowledge and experimented with oil paint in the summer of 1882. In 1883 the urge to be “alone with nature” and with peasants took him to Drenthe, an isolated part of the northern Netherlands frequented by Mauve and other Dutch artists, where he spent three months before returning home, which was then at Nuenen, another village in the Brabant. He remained at Nuenen during most of 1884 and 1885, and during these years his art grew bolder and more assured. He painted three types of subjects-still life, landscape, and figure-all interrelated by their reference to the daily life of peasants, to the hardships they endured, and to the countryside they cultivated. Émile Zola’s Germinal (1885), a novel about the coal-mining region of France, greatly impressed van Gogh, and sociological criticism is implicit in many of his pictures from this period-e.g., Weavers and The Potato Eaters. Eventually, however, he felt too isolated in Nuenen.

His understanding of the possibilities of painting was evolving rapidly; from studying Hals he learned to portray the freshness of a visual impression, while the works of Paolo Veronese and Eugène Delacroix taught him that colour can express something by itself. This led to his enthusiasm for Peter Paul Rubens and inspired his sudden departure for Antwerp , Belgium , where the greatest number of Rubens’s works could be seen. The revelation of Rubens’s mode of direct notation and of his ability to express a mood by a combination of colours proved decisive in the development of van Gogh’s style. Simultaneously, van Gogh discovered Japanese prints and Impressionist painting. All these sources influenced him more than the academic principles taught at the Antwerp Academy , where he was enrolled. His refusal to follow the academy’s dictates led to disputes, and after three months he left precipitately in 1886 to join Theo in Paris . There, still concerned with improving his drawing, van Gogh met Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, and others who were to play historic roles in modern art. They opened his eyes to the latest developments in French painting. At the same time, Theo introduced him to Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, and other artists of the Impressionist group.

By this time van Gogh was ready for such lessons, and the changes that his painting underwent in Paris between the spring of 1886 and February 1888 led to the creation of his personal idiom and style of brushwork. His palette at last became colourful, his vision less traditional, and his tonalities lighter, as may be seen in his first paintings of Montmartre . By the summer of 1887 he was painting in pure colours and using broken brushwork that is at times pointillistic. Finally, by the beginning of 1888, van Gogh’s Post-Impressionist style had crystallized, resulting in such masterpieces as Portrait of Père Tanguy and Self-Portrait in Front of an Easel, as well as in some landscapes of the Parisian suburbs.

After two years van Gogh was tired of city life, physically exhausted, and longing “to look at nature under a brighter sky.” His passion was now for “a full effect of colour.” He left Paris in February 1888 for Arles , in south eastern France .

The pictures he created over the following 12 months-depicting blossoming fruit trees, views of the town and surroundings, self-portraits, portraits of Roulin the postman and other friends, interiors and exteriors of the house, sunflowers, and landscapes-marked his first great period. In these works he strove to respect the external, visual aspect of a figure or landscape but found himself unable to suppress his own feelings about the subject, which found expression in emphatic contours and heightened effects of colour. Once hesitant to diverge from the traditional techniques of painting he worked so hard to master, he now gave free rein to his individuality and began squeezing his tubes of oil paint directly on the canvas. Van Gogh’s style was spontaneous and instinctive, for he worked with great speed and intensity, determined to capture an effect or a mood while it possessed him. “When anyone says that such and such [painting] is done too quickly,” he told his brother, “you can reply that they have looked at it too fast.”

Van Gogh knew that his approach to painting was individualistic, but he also knew that some tasks are beyond the power of isolated individuals to accomplish. In Paris he had hoped to form a separate Impressionist group with Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, and others whom he believed had similar aims. He rented and decorated a house in Arles with the intention of persuading them to join him and found a working community called “The Studio of the South.” Gauguin arrived in October 1888, and for two months van Gogh and Gauguin worked together; but, while each influenced the other to some extent, their relations rapidly deteriorated because they had opposing ideas and were temperamentally incompatible.

Disaster struck on Christmas Eve 1888. Physically and emotionally exhausted, van Gogh snapped under the strain. He argued with Gauguin, reportedly chased him with a razor, and then cut off the lower half of his own left ear. A sensational news story reported that a deranged van Gogh then visited a brothel near his home and delivered the bloody body part to a woman named Rachel, saying, “Guard this object carefully.” Whatever transpired, Gauguin left after the incident, and van Gogh was hospitalized.

Van Gogh returned home a fortnight later and resumed painting, producing a mirror-image Self-Portrait with Pipe and Bandaged Ear, several still life, and La Berceuse (“Mme Roulin Rocking a Cradle”). Several weeks later, he again showed symptoms of mental disturbance severe enough to cause him to be sent back to the hospital. At the end of April 1889, fearful of losing his renewed capacity for work, which he regarded as a guarantee of his sanity, he asked to be temporarily shut up in the asylum at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in order to be under medical supervision.

Van Gogh stayed there for 12 months, haunted by recurrent attacks, alternating between moods of calm and despair, and working intermittently: Garden of the Asylum, Cypresses, Olive Trees, Les Alpilles, portraits of doctors, and interpretations of paintings by Rembrandt, Delacroix, and Millet date from this period. The keynote of this phase (1889-90) is fear of losing touch with reality, as well as a certain sadness. Confined for long periods to his cell or the asylum garden, having no choice of subjects, and realizing that his inspiration depended on direct observation, van Gogh fought against having to work from memory. At Saint-Rémy he muted the vivid, sun-drenched colours of the previous summer and tried to make his painting more calm. As he repressed his excitement, however, he involved himself more imaginatively in the drama of the elements, developing a style based on dynamic forms and a vigorous use of line (he often equated line with colour). The best of his Saint-Rémy pictures are thus bolder and more visionary than those of Arles .

Van Gogh himself brought this period to an end. Oppressed by homesickness-he painted souvenirs of Holland -and loneliness, he longed to see Theo and the north once more and arrived in Paris in May 1890. Four days later he went to stay with a homeopathic doctor-artist, Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, a friend of Pissarro and Paul Cézanne, at Auvers-sur-Oise. Back in a village community such as he had not known since Nuenen, four years earlier, van Gogh worked at first enthusiastically; his choice of subjects such as fields of corn, the river valley, peasants’ cottages, the church, and the town hall reflects his spiritual relief. A modification of his style followed: the natural forms in his paintings became less contorted, and in the northern light he adopted cooler, fresh tonalities. His brushwork became broader and more expressive and his vision of nature more lyrical. Everything in these pictures seems to be moving, living. This phase was short, however, and ended in quarrels with Gachet and feelings of guilt at his financial dependence on Theo (now married and with a son) and his inability to succeed.

In despair of ever being able to overcome his loneliness or be cured, van Gogh shot himself. He did not die immediately. When found wounded in his bed, he allegedly said, “I shot myself. I only hope I haven’t botched it.” That evening, when interrogated by the police, van Gogh refused to answer questions, saying, “What I have done is nobody else’s business. I am free to do what I like with my own body.”

Van Gogh died two days later. Theo, his own health broken, died six months later (January 25, 1891). In 1914 Theo’s remains were moved to his brother’s grave site, in a little cemetery in Auvers, where today the two brothers lie side by side, with identical tombstones.

Assessment

Largely on the basis of the works of the last three years of his life, van Gogh is generally considered one of the greatest Dutch painters of all time. His work exerted a powerful influence on the development of much modern painting, in particular on the works of the Fauve painters, Chaim Soutine, and the German Expressionists. Yet of the more than 800 oil paintings and 700 drawings that constitute his life’s work, he sold only one in his lifetime. Always desperately poor, he was sustained by his faith in the urgency of what he had to communicate and by the generosity of Theo, who believed in him implicitly. The letters that he wrote to Theo from 1872 onward, and to other friends, give such a vivid account of his aims and beliefs, his hopes and disappointments, and his fluctuating physical and mental state that they form a unique and touching biographical record that is also a great human document.

The name of van Gogh was virtually unknown when he killed himself: only one article about him had appeared during his lifetime. He had exhibited a few canvases at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris between 1888 and 1890 and in Brussels in 1890; both salons showed small commemorative groups of his work in 1891. One-man shows of his work did not occur until 1892.

Van Gogh’s fame dates from the early years of the 20th century, and since then his reputation has never ceased to grow. A large part of this reputation is based on the image of van Gogh as a struggling genius, working unappreciated in isolation. The dramatic elements of his life-poverty, self-mutilation, mental breakdown, and suicide-feed the drama of this mythology. The notion that his unorthodox talent was unrecognized and rejected by society heightens the legend, as it is just that sort of isolation and struggle that has come to define the modern concept of the artist. This mythical van Gogh has become almost inseparable from his art, inspiring artists to dramatize his saga in poems, novels, films, operas, dance ensembles, orchestral compositions, and a popular song. Wide and diverse audiences have come to appreciate his art, and the record-breaking attendance at exhibitions of his works-as well as the popularity of commercial items featuring imagery from his oeuvre-reveal that, within the span of a century, van Gogh has become perhaps the most recognized painter of all time. The unprecedented prices his works have attained through auction and the attention paid to forgery scandals have only increased van Gogh’s stature in the public imagination.

Because the most sensational events of van Gogh’s life-the conflicts with Gauguin, the mutilation of his left ear, and the suicide-are thinly documented and layered with apocrypha and anecdote, there is a trend in van Gogh studies to penetrate the layers of myth by reconstructing the known facts of the artist’s life. This scholarly analysis has taken many forms. Medical and psychological experts have examined contemporary descriptions of his symptoms and their prescribed treatments in an attempt to diagnose van Gogh’s condition (theories suggest epilepsy, schizophrenia, or both). Other scholars have studied evidence of his interaction with colleagues, neighbours, and relatives and have meticulously examined the sites where van Gogh worked and the locales where he lived. In light of van Gogh’s continually increasing popularity, scholars have even deconstructed the mythologizing process itself. These investigations shed greater light on the artist and his art and also offer further proof that, more than a century after his death, van Gogh’s extraordinary appeal continues to endure and expand.

Vincent Van Gogh – Paintings of Sunflowers

Of Vincent Van Gogh’s many series of paintings and periods in his career, his most famous is arguable that of the Sunflowers. Paintings of sunflowers have become synonymous with Van Gogh and his work in the latter part of his life. Many artists have tried to duplicate his technique over the years with originals and copies of the fabled flowers adorning galleries, offices and homes around the world.

The Sunflower series began in the years Van Gogh spent seeking his place in the artistic world in France. The first few paintings were created with the sole purpose of decorating Paul Gauguin’s home. Despite the volume of work in the series, most of the Sunflowers paintings were composed between 1888 and 1889 during Van Gogh’s time spent in Arles. The earliest works were created in Paris in 1887, where Van Gogh painted sunflowers with single flowers and clips rather than in vases.

 Sunflowers

Sunflowers – 1887

What makes the sunflower images so unique in contrast to any of his other paintings or those of other painters is the incredible attention to the aesthetics of the flower rather than the physical details. Van Gogh’s own use of yellow in the latter part of his life is most intensively accentuated in these images. However, through Van Gogh’s still lifes of Sunflowers, he also displayed the images of death through browns and then combined and contrasted the two, pitting vibrant life against dry and brittle death. Through the simple painting of flowers in still life, Van Gogh was able to describe and explore all the intricate aspects of both life and death and their relation to each other.

It is the use of balance and control of the observer’s eye, so deftly utilized in many of his paintings, that makes the Sunflower series so unique. By creating a careful balance not only in tonal range but in composition and in theme with life and death, yet drawing the viewers eyes to numerous locations, Van Gogh is able to entrance his admirers with such vibrant paintings of simple flowers.

 Sunflowers

Sunflowers – 1888

Many of the pictures in Van Gogh’s Sunflowers series are almost identical with the exception of a few small details. The layout and positioning of the flowers is often identical or very similar to any of a number of other paintings. If one were to combine two of them, they might find only superficial differences.

For example, common differences included the varying petal composition in each painting. Some paintings contained larger, bulkier petals than others, while others shaped intricate “V” patterns. The eye of each flower would occasionally differ in color as well. While one might display the yellow tints of life, another might contain the traditional black of a dying sunflower. The same technique was used for leaves. Occasionally, the only difference between one painting and the next might be that one displayed the petals as a vibrant yellow and the next with a tinge of wilting brown.

Ironically, the composition of Van Go’s sunflowers, so dependent on his use of color, might not have been possible only a century earlier. Because of the development of new paints and new colors in those paints, Van Gogh was able to utilize pigments such as Chrome Yellow that few other painters had ever had access to.

Vincent Van Gogh – Starry Night

Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night is one of the most discussed and influential pieces of artwork ever created. During his life time, Van Gogh painted for only a short time but was very prolific in those few years. As far as oil paintings are concerned, Starry Night has become as important in popular culture as any of the greatest songs and films of our generation. Painted while staying in the Saint-Remy Asylum in June of 1889, Starry Night has no directly known source and was actually painted in response to at least one earlier work that Van Gogh worked on, Starry Night on the Rhone. In fact, there were numerous Starry Nights painted by Van Gogh, each depicting slightly different scenes and representing different periods in his artistic progression.

Some Basic Analysis of Starry Night – by Vincent Van Gogh

 Starry Night

The Starry Night – 1889

Van Gogh’s Starry Night is a unique painting for numerous reasons. Composed in slight contrast to the impressionist style of the 19th century, Van Gogh’s work is an exaggerated, surreal work that is at equal measures relaxing and intriguing. The painting itself depicts a collection of lightly swirled clouds and overwhelming, blazing stars in the sky. Everything is larger than life and the sky appears more like a frothy ocean than the heavens at night .The curves and pinpoint location of each star forces the observer’s eyes to move about the painting as much as possible.

Directly below the sky is a small town, composed of darkened colors and brightly lit window spaces, creating a sense of wonder emanating from each window. The steeple of the church acts as a binding force, representing stability and centrality for the town. On the far left side of the painting is the curvy, unknown structure that has intrigued scholars for decades. Painted in the same manner as the sky with curving, flowing lines, the structure could be anything from a tree to a mountain. Much has been made of the colors used in Van Gogh’s Starry Night, especially the heavy use of yellow that permeated much of his later work. Theories including lead poisoning and certain brain diseases have been postulated as reasons for his odd color selections late in life.

Starry Night – History and Possible Meaning

There have been numerous possible interpretations of Van Gogh’s purpose in painting Starry Night. Many have cited Van Gogh’s desire to dedicate his life to helping the poor and spreading religious messages. The eleven stars in the sky are possibly related to a direct quote from the bible in Genesis and the church spire a binding force for that quotation.

Van Gogh himself related many words about his work to his brother Theo in his letters. Specific Van Gogh quotes on Starry Night have described the painting as having “lines [that] are warped as that of old wood” and “exaggerations from the point of view of arrangement”. He was possibly unhappy with how the painting turned out though the overall effect was more confounding to him than disappointing.

As for the opinions of others, Starry Night was not immediately recognized as the masterpiece it is today, as was the case with almost all of his work. Early Starry Night critiques had trouble placing the painting into any of the existing arenas of style and method. However, in the early 20th century, much of Van Gogh’s work received careful attention from a new generation of painters, the post-impressionists.

Starry Night over the Rhone – by Vincent Van Gogh (also known as Starlight over the Rhone)

Starry Night over the Rhone

Starry Night over the Rhone – 1888

The version of Starry Night that so many have seen and know is not the only version of the painting created by Van Gogh in his life time. Another painting which he was very proud of was the Starry Night over the Rhone variation, painted in Arles in 1888. The painting is very similar to its more famous brethren in that it also contains large, glowing orbs in the sky, numerous light points to keep the eye moving about the painting and darkened structures glowing behind the light of the stars.

However, Starry Night over the Rhone also contains humans, a feature that the former does not. A couple is walking together in the bottom right corner of the painting, placing the human and romantic element rather than the religious into context with the rest of the imagery. The Starry Night over the Rhone’s setting is also a recognizable space, captured by Van Gogh while in Arles and overlooking the Rhone while Starry Night was painted from memory, depicting a location that has yet to be discerned.

Popular Culture

Starry Night has been an enduring image in the cultural progression of Western society for more than a century.

As one of the most reproduced paintings on earth, it has been viewed and can be recognized by billions of individuals the world over. One of the more interesting additions to the cultural impact of the painting is Don McClean’s song about Van Gogh, Starry, Starry Night, a song that parallels his life and work with lines like “Starry, Starry Night. Flaming flowers that brightly blaze, Swirling clouds in violet haze Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue.” The song goes on to describe numerous other paintings by Van Gogh and their effect on how we view art today.

The Pollarded Willow and Setting Sun and Other Landscapes of Vincent Van Gogh

During Vincent Van Gogh’s lifespan, numerous paintings depicting the scene just outside of a window to his studio were created. An early example and a painting made most famous by its theft in 1999 is “The Pollard Willow” originally finished in 1885 before Van Gogh left his birthplace and home in the Netherlands for France.

The painting, depicting a row of pollard willows in autumn lining a dirt road opposite of a barely visible brick wall was stolen and thought lost for seven years before being found in March of 2006. The painting is a major step in Van Gogh’s progression as an artist as can be seen in his later works painted in the home he shared with Guaguin in Arles and during his stint in Saint-Remy.

The Pollarded Willow and Setting Sun, painted in 1888, during the final months of Van Gogh’s stay in Arles, currently sits in the Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands. During the final months spent with Gaugin in Arles, Van Gogh had begun to rethink his approach to Impressionism, still utilizing similar techniques but creating series of paintings similar to those painted in Nuenen before he left the Netherlands.

After leaving Arles in 1889, Van Gogh committed himself to the Saint-Remy-de-Provence Asylum where he painted many of his most prolific masterpieces. While paintings such as Starry Night were painted largely from memory, consisting of swirls and circular patterns, he began a series of paintings reminiscent of those he worked on in Arles depicting the wheat field visible from Van Gogh’s window in the Asylum.

The field was enclosed by the walls of the asylum, on the opposite side of which rose a small hill and farmlands with olive groves and Van Gogh’s cypresses. During Van Gogh’s eleven month stay between June of 1889 and May of 1890, he recorded the same scene numerous times. His images included paintings of the field after a storm in Wheat Field under Threatening Skies, with a reaper, and with corn freshly grown in the fall. Images such as Wheat Field at Sunrise and White Field with Cypress by Vincent Van Gogh are considered masterpieces and have been used in popular culture repeatedly. Tom Cruise’s mind bending Vanilla Sky uses Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, Yellow Wheat and Cypress as a device not only for the naming of the film but for the impressionist aspects of the plot.

Even after leaving Saint-Remy, Van Gogh continued to paint similar pieces depicting wheat fields and trees. Van Gogh’s painting of crows, Wheat Field with Crows, painted in Auvers-sur-Oise was one of the final pieces completed before taking his own life. The painting famously depicts a flock of crows rising into the night sky from a brightly lit field. The contrast of light and dark and the ascension of such a malicious cloud is a suitable conveyance of Van Gogh’s ever shifting moods during this time period. Repeatedly, Van Gogh quoted his use of trees and fields as an extension of his study of life, as displayed in his famous Sunflowers series.

A Biographical Timeline of Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van gogh was born in 1853 in Groot-Zundert to Anna Cornelia Carbentus and Theodorus van Gogh, a local minister. Born in the Netherlands, The nationality of the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh and his native language were Dutch, but he would later go on to learn English, French and German and spend much of his time in France. Named for his grandfather and his still-born older brother, there have been numerous theories about the possible effects of having been named after a dead older sibling, citing his depictions of male figures in pairs. Three of Van Gogh’s uncles were art dealers and his great uncle was a sculptor. Vincent Van Gogh’s timeline is well documented, mostly in thanks to the correspondence he carried on with his brother Theo throughout his lifetime, revealing most of the facts known know about his life.

Facts about Vincent Van Gogh’s Childhood

Vincent Van Gogh’s younger brother Theo was born in May of 1857 followed by his brother Cor and sisters, Elizabeth, Anna and Wil. Van Gogh’s schooling as a child was maintained by a Catholic school teacher in Zundert, followed by 3 years of home schooling by a Governess and the attendance of boarding schools in Zevenbergen and Tilburg in the Netherlands. While attending Middle School in Tilburg, Van Gogh learned to draw from an accomplished Parisian artist. Van Gogh has been quoted as having a “gloomy and cold” childhood and eventually returned home in 1868 from boarding school.

History of Vincent Van Gogh’s Early Employment

At the age of fifteen Van Gogh began working for an art dealer in The Hague through his Uncle Vincent. After four years of training, Vincent was moved to London where he was financially successful and happy. After falling in love with his landlady’s daughter, Eugenie Loyer, Vincent was rejected and subsequently heartbroken. After this encounter, Van Gogh turned to religion and isolated himself. After being sent to Paris to work for a different art dealer, Van Gogh became bitter at how the French treated art and was terminated from his employment in 1876.

After losing his job, Van Gogh decided to become an assistant to an English Methodist minister. After moving back home later that year before Christmas, Van Gogh spent six months working in a nearby bookstore, translating Bible passages into many of the languages of Van Gogh’s schooling; English, French and German. In 1877, Van Gogh’s father sent Vincent to Amsterdam to stay with his uncle, an Admiral in the Navy. He studied theology to enter the University there but later failed in his endeavor, abandoning his desire to return to school. After leaving his uncle’s house in 1878, Van Gogh failed another course in Missionary School.

Van Gogh received a post as a missionary in Petit Wasmes in January of 1879, a small town in Belgium. During his stay with the poor that he ministered to, Van Gogh slept on straw and lived in squalor. Despite his desire to live in similar conditions, the church looked down on his decisions. After arguing with his parents about returning home, Van Gogh and his father became increasingly unhappy with each other, with the older Van Gogh declaring at one time that he would commit his son to an asylum.

After a year of drifting and arguing with his family, Van Gogh’s brother Theo was able to convince him to take up art full time in the fall of 1880. It was then that Willem Roelofs, a recommended Dutch Artist convinced Vincent to attend the Royal Academy of Art. Van Gogh studied anatomy, perspective and modeling while there.

Returned to Etten – The First of Van Gogh’s Various Controversies

After completing a short stint in the Academy, Van Gogh returned to Etten where his parents lived. During this short stint, he fell in love with his recently widowed cousin, Kee Vos Stricker. Vehemently denying his advances, Vos Stricker, who was seven years older than Van Gogh and had an eight year old child, proved to be a major blow for Van Gogh. Despite her refusals, Vincent repeatedly appealed to her father, receiving angry denials again and again. At one point, he held his hand over an open flame, requesting to speak with her for as long as he could keep his hand in the flame. Nothing came of his persistence though as Von Stricker did not believe Van Gogh could support himself or his daughter financially.

Van Gogh Visits The Hague

The entire situation left Van Gogh feeling betrayed and sickened by the hypocrisy of his uncle and his father and after turning down an offer of money from his father, Vincent prepared to leave for The Hague. In 1882, Van Gogh moved to The Hague and started studying art with his cousin, Anton Mauve. The two worked together only for a short time though as Mauve soon stopped responding to Van Gogh’s letters.

Part of Mauve’s coldness might be related to Van Gogh’s first of many sordid love affairs, this one with Clasina Maria Hoornik (Sien), a local prostitute. After he moved into an apartment with Sien and her five year old daughter, Van Gogh’s family became extremely unhappy with the coupling and though Sien was pregnant, Van Gogh’s father urged him to leave her.

Van Gogh was commissioned by his uncle, Cornelius Marinus van Gogh, to draw twelve views of the city during this time. His uncle, not fully satisfied with the drawings commissioned Van Gogh to paint six more, more detailed than the previous twelve. After completing the first batch of drawings in May of that year, Vincent was admitted to the hospital with Gonorrhea for three weeks. After returning, Van Gogh begins working with oil paints and lithography, and moves Sien and the children into a larger apartment.

In 1883, Van Gogh makes the decision to break up with Sien and leaves her with the new born Willem and her daughter. Van Gogh reported to his brother that the situation had become too hard and it is thought that Sien might have returned to prostitution to make up for the lack of income, putting increased strain on the family. Sien told her youngest child later in life that he is the son of a painter named Vincent Van Gogh, though the timing makes this unlikely. She eventually committed suicide in 1904, drowning herself in a river.

Vincent Van Gogh’s Return to Nuenen

Van Gogh moved to Drenthe, followed by Nieuw Amsterdam, soon followed by a return to his parents’ home in Nuenen by the end of 1883. While in Nuenen, Van Gogh devoted large amounts of time to sketching cottages and local peasants. In 1884, Van Gogh embroiled himself in another controversy, this time in an affair with Margot Begemann, a woman 10 years older than him. She fell deeply in love with him and the two planned to marry. However, their families disapproved and soon afterward Margot attempted suicide.

Following the end of their relationship and Margot’s narrow survival, Van Gogh’s father died of a stroke, on March 26, 1885. After a long period of grieving, Van Gogh painted The Potato Eaters, his first undisputed masterpiece, and was given his first chance to show his work, with interest rising in Paris and in The Hague. However, another controversy found him in September of that year when a sitter became pregnant and he was forbidden from using anymore villagers to model in his paintings.

Van Gogh’s time in Nuenen is marked by his use of earth colors, dark and lacking the tones of later life. Theo himself replied to Van Gogh’s complaints about his paintings not selling that they were too dark and not in the current style of Impressionism and bright colors.

The Paris Years

In 1886, Van Gogh left his home in Nuenen and entered the Academy of Art in Antwerp to improve his technique. Using live models during the evenings, Vincent developed much of his style in the realm of figures and live paintings. After a couple of short months at the Acaedmy, Vincent left for Paris where his brother Theo was working as an art dealer, selling Impressionist paintings. Vincent moved in with his brother and began studying the impressionist styles of Paris during that time. Almost immediately, he begins utilizing more colorful palettes, the hallmark of most of his greater works. Because Vincent lived with his brother Theo at 54 Rue Lepic, little is known about his life during the years spent in Paris. There were few letters written.

During this time, major impressionist exhibitions were done in Paris and Van Gogh was greatly affected. However, soon he felt that Paris had worn him out and after meeting Paul Gauguin and displaying his own work in numerous exhibits, he decided to leave the city for a less busy lifestyle.

More Trouble Arises in Arles for Van Gogh

In 1888, Van Gogh departed Paris and arrived in Arles where he immediately took up the painting of various landscapes. His life in Arles was remarkably less exotic than in Paris and with the exception of a legal dispute over the cost of his hotel in the first months of his stay there, Van Gogh was relatively free of controversy at first. He eventually sorted out the cost of living and moved into the Yellow House where Gauguin joined him. Prompted by Gauguin, Van Gogh began experimenting with various forms of painting. It is in Arles that Van Gogh painted many of his Sunflowers as well as experimented with painting from memory.

The two quickly began to quarrel though, constantly disagreeing about art and on December 23, 1888, only 4 months after Gauguin had moved in, Van Gogh approached him with a razor blade in hand. Cutting off the lower part of his ear, Van Gogh then wrapped up the mutilated ear and gave it to a local prostitute named Rachel and asked her to “keep this object carefully”. Gauguin immediately left after informing Theo of the incident and Van Gogh spent numerous days in the hospital recovering. Gauguin would never see Van Gogh again.

Vincent Van Gogh at Saint-Remy Hospital

Van Gogh did return to the Yellow House, but after a month of hallucinations, mad ravings and paranoia, local citizens petitioned to have him removed from the house, fearing Van Gogh to be completely insane. Later, on May 8, 1889, Van Gogh had himself committed to the asylum in Saint Remy. Immediately they diagnose him with epilepsy. Given two small rooms, one to live in and one to paint in, Van Gogh begins painting the gardens and surrounding areas of the asylum. While in the asylum, numerous examples of Van Gogh’s work were exhibited in Paris. However, upon leaving the asylum to attend an exhibit, Vincent had a relapse and returned once more. Later, another two day trip to Arles resulted in a similar attack. During his stay in Saint-Remy, van Gogh painted hundreds of paintings, including his famed Starry Night, the numerous paintings of the Wheat Field and hills outside his window, and a selection of self-portraits.

On May 16, 1890, despite numerous relapses, Van Gogh left the asylum and visited his brother Theo. After spending a few days with them, he moved to Auvers and stayed with Dr. Paul Ferdinand Gachet, the subject of the twin portraits by Van Gogh. However, Van Gogh’s depression became too much to bear and on July 27th, 1890, he walked into a field and shot himself in the chest. The shot does not immediately kill him however as he stumbled back to his inn. Two days later however, with Theo by his side, he succumbed to the gunshot wound and died. Vincent Van Gogh’s grave is located today in Auvers-sur-Oise.

Theories Regarding Vincent Van Gogh’s Mental Illness

Throughout his lifetime, Van Gogh was stricken with medical problems, most pointedly his mental instability. Despite his most famous stint in the hospital following the removal of his ear in 1888, Van Gogh is thought to have any number of possible diseases with hundreds of psychiatrists offering more than 30 different possible diagnoses in 117 years since his death. Largely agreed to have suffered from debilitating bouts of depression, Vincent Van Gogh was also known for his manic episodes, reacting violently with self-mutilation.

Possible problems he might have suffered from include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, syphilis, lead poisoning (from his paints), epilepsy, and porphyria. Combine any of these possible illnesses with his poor diet, constant work and dependence on alcohol and absinthe, and all of his symptoms could be accounted for.

Further medical study has been made of his constant use of the color yellow in his work. In particular, it has been found that overuse of Absinthe can result in xanthopsia, a condition that forces one to see all things in yellow. Another theory is that Dr. Gachet prescribed digitalis, supported by the Foxglove plant the doctor is holding in his portrait, the source of digitalis. Digitalis is known to cause a yellow tint in vision or even yellow spots similar to the stars in his night time paintings. Possible lead poisoning would have led to retina swelling as well which could account for Van Gogh’s halo affected images.

Van Gogh’s Work Today

The cost for original artwork by Vincent Van Gogh is known today as the highest among almost all artwork. The most expensive Vincent Van Gogh painting sold to date is the Portrait of Dr. Gachet which sold for $82.5 million in 1990. His work exists today in galleries all over the world, including The Hermitage, the MET, and dozens more. Valuing the cost of authentic artwork by Vincent Van Gogh has become increasingly difficult in recent years because of the ever growing price for which his work sells.

In 1999, one of Vincent van Gogh’s Pollarded Willow paintings was stolen. Miraculously, the painting was recovered in 2006, unharmed and returned to its home in Den Bosch at the F. van Lanschot Bankiers Headquarters. Surely, Van Gogh’s images are some of the most sought.

Self Portraits by Vincent Van Gogh

In the years between 1886 and 1889, Van Gogh’s time in Paris in Arles, more than two dozen separate self-portraits were painted. As some of his most famous images, these portraits have been debated for years, scholars unsure of his purpose in painting them. The composition itself is believed to be derived from a single photograph taken in 1886 that directly resembles the composition of many of those self-portraits.

Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portrait painting has been openly compared to that of Rembrandt. However, Van Gogh completed his portraits in a markedly shorter time than Rembrandt, repeatedly painting the same pose with varying displays and colors.

Van Gogh’s Varying Self Portrait Styles

 

Self Portrait (Blue) – 1889

Each of the self-portraits displays the same intensity in the eyes, focusing intently outward, with some degree of unspoken emotion. However, the rest of the composition varies dramatically from one painting to the next. Each painting is composed of differing styles, ranging from his early elementary styles to the Impressionist and Neo-impressionist styles of his Paris years and beyond.

Each painting utilizes a solid background of varying color. Never does Van Gogh paint himself in landscape, nor does he often utilize any form of props. There are two exceptions to this rule though, including the portrait of Van Gogh painting on a canvas and the first self portrait with a bandaged ear, painted in 1889 by Van Gogh. Additionally, the change in attire has been noted from the earliest self portraits to those painted in Arles and Saint-Remy.

While his early portraits, depicting his Paris years, are often of a well-kempt, powerful looking Van Gogh in a nice suit, his latter portraits depict a man who is often missing something. From the portrait depicting Van Gogh as a Buddhist monk with his hair, to the painting of Van Gogh clean shaven or the two depicting Van Gogh’s bandaged ear, each image shows Van Gogh missing a small part of his identity, possibly seeking something else instead.

Purpose of the Van Gogh Portraits

 VanGogh-self-portrait-with_bandaged_ear

Self portrait with bandage – 1889

Numerous reasons have been attached for the prolific use of the self-portrait by Van Gogh in his craft. On one hand, there have been theories from critics such as James Risser that the portraits represented some form of self-analysis. It is commonly believed that Van Gogh suffered from severe Manic Depression, evidenced in his combined bouts of manic outbursts and self-mutilation – including when Van Gogh cut off his ear – and depressive seclusions from society, evidenced by the self-inflicted gunshot wound that took his life.

In each of his self-portraits, the intensity of emotion present in the eyes is contrasted with some form of color or deformity in the face. The purposeful painting of the bandaged ear in two of his self portraits, especially in the self-portrait with him smoking a pipe depict a depressed, self aware man, unhappy with his life and his actions, possibly in response to his depressive state.

Van Gogh’s Buddhist Self-Portrait

 VanGogh-self-portrait-dedicated_to_gaugin

Self Portrait – 1887

These paintings could very well have been a combination of self-critique and despair over having lost control of his life and his actions. A painting that reveals another deepened aspect of Van Gogh, displaying a lifestyle that would have contrasted with that of his youth and young adulthood is Self Portrait Dedicated to Gauguin. This painting, completed in Arles in 1888 depicts Van Gogh as a bald headed Buddhist monk. He describes the painting himself as a “portrait of a Bronze…worshipping the eternal Buddha”. The calm displayed in this painting depicts the ideal of a “calm monk” with absolute control, control that Van Gogh sought for most of his life.

During this time, Van Gogh was berated constantly by the wavering insecurity of his own sanity and the image of him as a Buddhist monk displays how he was capable of maintaining some vestige of control.

A More Technical Cause

There is of course the possibility that the majority of Van Gogh’s self-portraits were composed simply as technical experiments, allowing Van Gogh to attempt new styles and techniques. Van Gogh stated repeatedly that he could not often find models that suited his needs and so it is possible that he became his own model. The varying degrees of style and attention to certain details that make up the bulk of Van Gogh’s portraits carefully parallel his own progression into, through, and out of his Impressionist years in Paris.

The Biography of Vincent Van Gogh

The life of Vincent Van Gogh is a short one, composing only 37 years between March 30, 1853 and July 29, 1890. However, any biography on Vincent Van Gogh is full of intriguing stories. This short biography of Vincent van Gogh only covers the most important details of his life though.

Born in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands, Vincent Van Gogh would grow up to become one of the most influential Impressionist/Post-Impressionist painters of all time. His images have become world famous and for years have influenced generations of new painters. Because he was born only 150 years ago, the life and times of Van Gogh are incredibly well known and well documented. An autobiography for Vincent van Gogh has been compiled from the letters he wrote to his brother Theo during and throughout his travels. These letters often accompanied the paintings that Vincent sent Theo to keep for him.

In the early days of Vincent van Gogh’s bio he was known as an altruistic man who believed that his calling was in religion and helping the poor. He failed repeatedly to enter and study theology in school but eventually found placement as a missionary in Belgium. However, he was eventually expelled from this position for impersonating a priest.

His brothers would eventually symbolize the path Van Gogh would take in life. Three of them were art dealers, and one in particular, Theo, was a close confidant of Vincent, constantly offering him assistance and a means to find his way out of squalor and depression. Van Gogh was constantly depressed and it was Theo who offered him the chance to study the basics of art so as to overcome the pain of his personal relationships.

One of the first of those relationships to collapse was his attempts to marry his recently widowed cousin. After being initially rejected by her, Van Gogh was rejected by her father for his lack of financial stability. Van Gogh spent a deal of time in The Hague after this rejection, studying art and carrying on a long relationship with a prostitute. Until that point supported to some degree by his cousin, Anton Mauve, Van Gogh soon found himself without any support as Mauve disapproved of the lifestyle. It is believed that Van Gogh might have fathered a son with the prostitute by the name of Willem.

In 1886, Van Gogh made his way to Paris where his most famous and prolific years of painting would begin. He began work in a studio and was given the chance to share his work with some of the most influential and well known painters of the day. It did not take long though for Van Gogh’s depressive nature to get the better of him. After only three years, his vices of drinking and smoking as well as his constant depression forced him to self admit to the Saint Remy Asylum. It was here that he would paint some of his most famous works such as Starry Night and Portrait of Dr. Gachet. After one year in the asylum, Van Gogh left. A month later, he left the asylum, after which he walked into a field and shot himself in the chest with a revolver. After the shooting, it took two full days for Van Gogh to succumb and die from the wounds.

The History of Vincent Van Gogh’s Images

Vincent Van Gogh did not begin painting until 1880 when he was already 27 years old. He began at the most basic levels, working from beginners’ handbooks such as “Cours de dessin”. After two years he started looking for commissions to keep his art career afloat. He found them in his Uncle, Cornelias Marinus, the owner of a world famous gallery in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, his work did not prove to live up to his uncle’s standards and even after a second commission, Van Gogh was unable to impress him. Thus the earliest VanGogh paintings were considered failures.

 Potato Eaters

Potato Eaters – 1885

However, despite his failure to impress Marinus, Van Gogh continued painting, shutting himself into a studio and working tirelessly to improve his technique. In 1882, he began painting what many would consider his first masterpieces, the single person and item, black and white studies that led to his later revelations. The next year, he started working on multi-figure paintings. These however, were largely destroyed after one of his brothers commented on their lack of appeal and liveliness.

In 1883, after more than a year spent improving his technique and painting with the support of his brother Theo, Van Gogh visited famous Hague scholars such as Weissenbruch and Blommers to learn more about the techniques and technical aspects of painting. It was in Nuenen that Vincent Van Gogh’s full size paintings were started. The Potato Eaters, painted in 1885, is considered by many to be his first full sized masterpiece. Two other large canvas paintings, The Old Tower and The Cottage, survive from this time period. Unfortunately, he destroyed many of the rest.

After more failures progressing in the art world, Vincent Van Gogh came to the conclusion that his short comings were a result of technical problems, not artistic talent. So, he left for Paris to study further and better improve his technique. While in Paris, Van Gogh learned much about the impressionist movement that had the art world so entranced. He did not, however, progress much himself until after moving to Arles.

In Arles, Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings reverted back to many of the more traditional theories of painting that had intrigued him as a youth. He began painting series of images that reflected particular subjects for a given purpose. The first of these, Flowering Orchards was painted in 1888 and depicted series of three paintings. In a series of single figure paintings, he created The Roulin Family and after Gauguin had made the move to Arles to live beside Vincent Van Gogh, painting of his famous The Decoration for the Yellow House series was commenced.

 Le Moulin de la Galette

Le Moulin de la Galette – 1886

The final period of Van Gogh’s life, those years spent in the Saint-Remy asylum are marked by his constant use of swirls and spiral patterns. Starry Night is arguable the most famous painting he composed during the year he spent there. He also painted numerous works depicting the wheat field outside the window of his cell, many of which have been sold for exorbitant prices.

His self portraits are another major portion of his life’s work. While pics of Van Gogh are few, the single image that has been recovered, originally taken Victor Morin, was believed to be used as the basis for the dozen or more self portraits and Van Go pictures. This single stock photo of Van Gogh has been authenticated as the man’s likeness and even the portrait of Vincent with a bandaged ear is believed to be drawn from this very photo. The close up of Van Gogh portrayed in the image is the identical angle and time frame of the numerous images he painted of himself in those final years of his life.

During his lifetime, Van Gogh is said to have gone through numerous stages. His early years were spent merely understanding the basic mechanics of the paintbrush, creating still life drawings and paintings and crafting his now famous single figure black and whites. His years in Paris, eventually jaded by the impressionism exhibits and galleries of the day that saturated the city, were spent reimagining his style and in Arles he began to paint the Post-Impressionist images that led to some of his greatest masterpieces, punctuated by his time in Saint-Remy.

Vincent Van Gogh and the Use of Expressive Lines

Vincent Van Gogh utilized numerous methods to create the landscapes and portraits that define his short artistic career. Rather than painting a landscape or portrait to portray exactly what was present, Van Gogh was interested in painting what he felt as well as what he saw. The world around him was an expression of how he felt and interacted rather than a simple image to be recorded. Van Gogh’s brushstrokes, often wild and unrestrained were not messy or quick, but expressions of emotions regarding his subjects. The emotion beneath the painting was more important to him than the painting itself.

Largely because of the development of photography in the time period during which Van Gogh lived, painters were no longer commissioned to paint imagery as it actually appeared. Art became an opportunity to interpret the world around the artist instead. The technology behind paint began to grow as well. The oil colors Van Gogh used changed from 1883 and the images of cottages and peasants in earthly browns to vibrant chrome yellows during his Paris days. With the freedom to take their canvases outside and the portability of tubed paint, Van Gogh and his contemporaries were freed from the restraints of in-studio imagery.

Even in Van Gogh’s line drawings, the expressive lines of this shift could be seen. His Fritillaries, painted in Paris in 1886 while studying with the Impressionists is a great example of Vincent Van Gogh’s sketches, recreating an image of the flowers without the constraints of depicting the exact image of the flowers. After meeting with the Impressionists, whose work used lighting and short, expressive brushstrokes to recreate the effects of light reflecting off of objects, Van Gogh continued to develop his own style.

Regardless of the few studies that Van Gogh produced though, very few Van Gogh pencil and paper works remain, possibly because he rarely sketched before painting. His painting was furious and rapid, taking place before his subject and never hesitating. Van Gogh did not paint from memory, nor did he spend his time painting what he saw.

Thus, for those that that have strived to learn how to paint like Van Gogh, the process is less about technique and more about mindset. Though there are often particulars in each of his paintings, such as the use of yellows, the rapid expressive brushstrokes of his wheat fields and the swirling patterns of his Saint-Remy days, Van Gogh did not have a singular style. Instead, he utilized the diversity of the new pallete available to painters to recreate images as he felt them.

Taking for example, his painting of Olive Trees. In this painting, Van Gogh paints his tress with full, twisting and curving branches. The ground does not lie flat, but undulates like the ocean, while the sun is a blinding yellow, blazing across the sky. His brushstrokes do not convey mere color. They depict life on their own, utilizing the painter’s energy to depict his emotions.