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Vincent Van Gogh's personality accounts for such increased attention as that of very few other artists in history. It is not surprising as this painter's life is full of ominous details that have inspired lots of psychiatric studies and even films. Replicas of original Van Gogh paintings have never been more popular with the public and today they are available at a reasonable price.

In this article I will show you some of the artist's most interesting works and provide sufficient background to make sense of the events and settings that inspired them.

Vincent Van Gogh lived a painfully short life. He was always broke and dependent on his younger brother, Theo, without whose help he would have fallen into total misery. He started his career as a painter late and it is due to his brother's continuous support that Van Gogh could get absorbed in his work with such incredible intensity as he did and leave a rich life work behind.

In his life, Van Gogh could only sell a single painting.

Van Gogh Painting: Red Grape Hill - In case you were wondering, which was the only painting Van Gogh could sell in his life.
Van Gogh Painting: Red Grape Hill - In case you were wondering, which was the only painting Van Gogh could sell in his life.
Van Gogh Painting: Green Grape Hill - This is so bad, Van Gogh couldn't find a buyer.
Van Gogh Painting: Green Grape Hill - This is so bad, Van Gogh couldn't find a buyer.
Van Gogh Painting: Olive Trees with the Hills of Alpille in the Background (5)
Van Gogh Painting: Olive Trees with the Hills of Alpille in the Background (5)
Van Gogh Painting: Wheat Field with Cypresses (6)
Van Gogh Painting: Wheat Field with Cypresses (6)

Van Gogh had a hard life. His loves were not returned and he suffered from exhausting fit of nerves. He did all kinds of weird things such as attacking his fellow painter Gauguin with a razor blade and cutting off his own left ear and taking it to the Arles brothel. No wonder he finally ended up in a mental institution, and having lived but 37 years he killed himself.

Van Gogh's image today is that of a lunatic artist whose inspired obsession is required for creating his art. He is one that rejects the formal barriers of society and conducts an exceedingly eccentric behavior. It is little known that he was in a desperate battle with his disease and it is not just that this 'insanity' didn't inspire him at all, it prevented him from working.

Van Gogh created all his art in his clearest moments. Seeking his peace of mind, he voluntarily asked for his admittance into the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole mental hospital. Due to the fact that he was allowed to paint, he could immortalize the building's garden, its pushing well and the sight offered in the angry Mistral (5) and also in calm at noon sunshine (6).

Van Gogh Painting: Vincent's Room (7)
Van Gogh Painting: Vincent's Room (7)

The artist's most lasting works were created in the stormy last three years of his life. Probably the most famous of all is the bedroom of his Arles studio apartment (7), but he painted several masterpieces in the above mentioned asylum and also during his last sixty-nine days that he spent in Auvers-sur-Oise, to the north of Paris, whose Catholic church (8) also inspired him.

Van Gogh Painting: The Church of Auvers (8)
Van Gogh Painting: The Church of Auvers (8)

In the last two years of his life, Van Gogh's creative periods of clear conscience and his destructive periods of fits of nerves kept alternating. He was well aware of his illness and created his works in the treasured brighly clear moments, not under his fits. So the notion of the 'insane genius' is a false one. He knew his days were counted and it made him work even more intensely as evidenced by one of his letters to his brother.

"Life goes by and time does not return. But I throw myself into work, exactly because I know that chances to work do not ever come back."

Van Gogh's works tell us about his thoughts, hopes, fights and agony, exactly the things that made this artist idol flesh and blood. We know everything about his personality, the background of his works and his methods, because his brother, Thoe, kept every letter that was sent to him, a collection that amounts to no less than 652 pieces. This collection was published by Theo's wife in 1914, by which time the name of Vincent Van Gogh sounded well-appreciated.

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Comments 11 comments

Justine76 6 years ago

this is so sad. well written hub. I never knew about the letter collection.


Haunty profile image

Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary Author

Why is it sad, Justine? Because of his life?

You know, sadness is a beautiful emotion when expressed in art, just don't overdo feeling it. :)


Justine76 6 years ago

I read an interesting qoute this morning, it struck me funny considering the timing.."Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional."

I was saying that Van Gogh's story was sad, I was thinking of 2 things. One, his brother, it must have been hard on him, to have his little brother suffer so. And that Van Gogh was well aware of how ill he was. Its not like he was "crazy" and just didn't even know what was going on. I feel that is sad.

And don't worry, art is a wonderful tool for some, to avoid the overdoing of sadness. :)


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

I am an artist and enjoyed your hub on Van Gogh. Very informative and revealing. Thanks and aloha!


k@ri profile image

k@ri 6 years ago from Sunny Southern California

This is one of the best pieces I have ever read on Van Gogh! I have always loved Van Gogh's work. :D


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

One of the sad things is that Van Gogh made so little from his paintings, yet they are some of the most famous and expensive paintings today. It's hard to imagine such creativity, such brilliance. Vincent was fortunate to have his brother Theo. The story makes me love Theo as much as Vincent. They don't make brothers like that every day.


missmaudie profile image

missmaudie 6 years ago from Brittany, France

Very interesting hub, I'm a bit gutted about there being no paintings to buy from Amazon though! The Royal Academy of Arts in London has an exhibition 23 January - 18 April, The Real Van Gogh:the Artist and His Letters which should be good and ties in with your hub nicely!


nikki1 profile image

nikki1 6 years ago

great artwork


LEWJ 6 years ago

Wonderful hub about a most special artist. Van Gogh was very unique. His life and personality were matters of the heart. How sad that the wealth and praise his work draws to itself came only after his death.


Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 4 years ago from North Carolina

Van Gogh is a favorite! Thanks for sharing, hadn't heard about the letters before.


Haunty profile image

Haunty 4 years ago from Hungary Author

Thanks for reading, BY!

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