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Impressionist Artists: 5 Interesting Facts About The Life of Vincent Van Gogh

Updated on June 14, 2011

Red Vineyard at Arles by Vincent Van Gogh

Red Vineyard at Arles is the only painting that Vincent Van Gogh sold during his lifetime
Red Vineyard at Arles is the only painting that Vincent Van Gogh sold during his lifetime

Background

Vincent Van Gogh was born in 1853 in Holland, one of six siblings. His father was the Reverend of a Protestant church and religion was clearly a very big influence in Van Gogh’s life and paintings. He moved around Europe a lot trying to find somewhere to fit in, and had a number of different jobs before attempting to make it as an artist. Throughout his life, Van Gogh continually wrote letters, mainly to his brother, and it is through Van Gogh's letters that we learn so much about him. In total, it is estimated that he wrote between 800 and 900 letters. While he is now know as one of the greatest Impressionist painters, during his lifetime he only sold one painting (Red Vineyard at Arles) and was supported financially by his younger brother Theo Van Gogh.

Bedroom in Arles by Vincent Van Gogh

'Bedroom in Arles' is one of my favourite Van Gogh paintings. I like the variety of colours and the strength and brightness of them.
'Bedroom in Arles' is one of my favourite Van Gogh paintings. I like the variety of colours and the strength and brightness of them.

Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh

One of many paintings of Sunflowers by Van Gogh. He painted them all over the bedroom walls of the room that Paul Gauguin stayed in.
One of many paintings of Sunflowers by Van Gogh. He painted them all over the bedroom walls of the room that Paul Gauguin stayed in.

5 Interesting Facts About Van Gogh

1. An interesting fact about Vincent Van Gogh is not that he suffered from poor health. Which he did. Or even that his mental problems may have led him to cut off his ear. Which it did. An interesting fact about Vincent Van Gogh is that his epilepsy, caused by a brain lesion, caused by an overuse of absinthe, was treated with a medicine that many believe made him see yellow spots. Others believe that it was the lesion itself that caused him to see yellow. This may be why so many of his paintings use many yellow shades or include yellow spots, for example, Starry Night or Sunflowers.

2. You can’t talk about Van Gogh without mentioning that he cut off his ear. In itself this is not an interesting fact; everyone knows that Van Gogh cut off his ear. There are several common misconceptions surrounding this fact: One is that he cut off the entire ear, when in fact it was only the lobe (which is still pretty disgusting), the other is that he cut it off because he couldn’t sell his paintings. In fact it had nothing to do with that. Van Gogh was heavily influenced by another Impressionist artist, Paul Gauguin. They even lived together in the South of France. One day he turned on Gauguin and chased him through the house with a knife. Many believe it had something to do with a prostitute, to whom Van Gogh sent the piece of his ear lobe which he cut off later that day

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh painted Starry Night during a stay at Saint Remys du Provence mental asylum in 1889
Van Gogh painted Starry Night during a stay at Saint Remys du Provence mental asylum in 1889

The Potato Eaters by Vincent Van Gogh

The Potato Eaters is one of Van Gogh's earlier works from before he met other Impressionist artists who really influenced him to use brighter colours.
The Potato Eaters is one of Van Gogh's earlier works from before he met other Impressionist artists who really influenced him to use brighter colours.

3. One of Van Gogh’s most famous works, Starry Night, was painted while he was staying in a mental hospital (then known as an asylum) in Saint-Remy De Provence in 1889, sometime after the ear incident. This was not the first time that Van Gogh was hospitalised, he had been admitted after cutting off a part of his ear, but this time he committed himself into the hospital. His mental illnesses had begun to get the better of him and it wasn’t just the epilepsy he had to contend with, he also suffered from delusions and psychotic attacks as well as very possibly being bi-polar.

4. Another interesting fact about Van Gogh is that he didn’t start painting until he was 27, having spent his life before that failing as an art dealer and immersing himself in religion (failing also as a minister). Eventually he decided to teach himself to draw and started out by painting generally dark and depressing pictures of peasants and peasant life, the most famous of these paintings is The Potato Eaters. It wasn’t until he moved to Paris in 1886 and met other famous Impressionist artists (such as Claude Monet), combined with his new love for Japanese art, that he began experimenting with a more colourful palette.

5. Vincent Van Gogh died in 1890 after shooting himself in the chest. He was overcome with despair and hopelessness, feeling like a burden to his brother Theo who had been there with him through all the torrid times with his mental illnesses over the last few years. The suicide attempt didn’t kill him immediately, and it took two days until he finally died, feeling as though he’d failed at everything he had put his mind to (including committing suicide). Theo Van Gogh had collected the majority of his work after he died and then when Theo died six months later, his wife took the collection and Van Gogh's letters and had them all published. If only he had known how popular his work would become.

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    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico

      Nice Hub! I created a backlink to it, using the anchor text "Vincent van Gogh", in my recently published article "Impressionism: Mexican vs European Impressionist Art". I hope you don't mind and I thank you for writing interesting, good quality Hubs that allow me to backlink and use this Hubpages tool.

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      :D :) :( 5 years ago

      thank you that was top notch absolutely brilliantness amazingly great!!! :)

    • saif113sb profile image

      saif113sb 6 years ago

      very interesting hub. thanks

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      Germaine Reilly 6 years ago

      Van Gogh's bedroom is one of my favourites of his paintings, too. I think there's an innocence about it and despite its compact size, you feel a sense of his warmth regarding the space. Enjoyed your hub!

    • bugslady8949 profile image

      bugslady8949 6 years ago from The Bahamas

      I love van Gogh's work and It was so sad that he killed himself. I like this hub, you did a great job.

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      Yess! 6 years ago

      I love your hub! It is a pleasure to follow. I look forward to reading more hubs.

    • myartbroker profile image

      myartbroker 7 years ago from Windosr

      Great article - to think he didn't start painting until he was 27 .... gives us all hope!

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      Ron 7 years ago

      I love the Impressionists! The Red Vineyard at Arles is such a beautiful painting. What a shame that people then did not understand nor appreciate Vincent's work.

    • jenblacksheep profile image
      Author

      jenblacksheep 7 years ago from England

      You're very welcome! Of all the Impressionist Artists I've researched I found Van Gogh the most intesting!

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      Life Unplugged 7 years ago

      Amazing piece of trivia about Van Gogh. Thanks for sharing !

    • jenblacksheep profile image
      Author

      jenblacksheep 7 years ago from England

      Thank you very much Phoenix, I'm glad I could teach you something knew :D If you are interested in Impressionist Painters then *shameless plug* look out for others in this series that I'll be publishing in the next few days.

    • PhoenixV profile image

      PhoenixV 7 years ago from USA

      This is really well written , I like your style . I didn't now some of these things about Van Gogh . Great Research thanks!