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Vincent van Gogh

1853-1890

 

Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30th, 1853 to Theodorus van Gogh, and Anna Cornelia Carbentus, in Zundert, a village in Brabant, in the Netherlands.  It is important to note that Vincent's brother Theo was born four years later, as  he would become a prominent figure in Vincent's life.

Vincent's first exposure to the art world was when he worked at the Hague gallery of the French art dealers Goupil & Co., which had been established by his uncle Vincent.  His brother Theo later worked for the same company.  After working for the art dealers, Vincent took the job of assistant teacher, and preacher in a boarding school in England, but this was short lived and his obsession with evangelical Christianity made him want to become a clergyman like his father, so he tried to enroll in a theology school, but was refused admittance.

Vincent later enrolled in a  missionary school in Belgium, determined to help those in need, and preach to the poor.  He preached and lived amongst the miners in southern Belgium, but his fanatical attitude, and pious lifestyle were such that the church did not renew his appointment fro the following year.  After much though and meditation on the subject, Vincent decided to become an artist, feeling this was his last recourse at doing God's work.

Penniless, Vincent worked independently as an artist in Brussels, while his brother Theo supported him by sending him money.  van Gogh later returned to the Hague to take painting lessons from his cousin Anton Mauve.  His talents soon emerged, and in very little time, he had developed his own unique style.

van Gogh's bold use of color, and composition were first made evident in a series of  paintings of the Hague, commissioned by his uncle Cornelis.  van Gogh's fascination with the poor, and the working class were the subject of many of his early works, the first, a series he painted while Drenthe, in the northeastern Netherlands, followed by a series of 40 portraits he painted.

Theo, who had been helping his brother survive lean months, was also helping him sell his paintings, albeit at a turtle's pace; this distressed Vincent, and led to conflicts between the two of them.   Later, shortly after his father's passing, van Gogh finished his first masterwork, The Potato Eaters; he later left the Netherlands, and returned to Belgium, settling in the town of Antwerp. This was a wise move for van Gogh, who was able to find models, supplies, and ideas for his work.

He enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp, but quit after two months due to the stifling atmosphere of the school, and their antiquated concepts.  van Gogh had finally become the artist's artist. 

He later moved in with his brother in Montmartre, France, where he discovered the works of Monet and other French Impressionists, and met with Gauguin, and Henri deToulouse Lautrec,  this would be the turning point in van Gogh's career, as he enrolled in the highly praised Fernand Cormon workshop where he learned to use light and color in novel ways.

Continued on the next page...

 

 

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