Vincent van Gogh
1853 - 1890
Vincent Van Gogh is born on March 30 in Groot-Zundert, the Netherlands. The son of a Calvinist pastor, Vincent grows up in a modest, strict environment.
Birth of his brother, Theodore.
His uncle gets him a job as a clerk with the art dealer Goupil in The Hague. The young Vincent later works in Goupil's branches in London, in 1873-1874, then in Paris, in 1874-1875. He finally loses his job in March 1876.
He begins studies to become a pastor at the University of Amsterdam. However, in order to avoid the university program, which he considers too long, the following year Van Gogh registers for a course in Brussels that more quickly gives him the training required to preach in Belgium, which he does until he is removed from his duties by the Church in 1879.
At the age of 27, Van Gogh goes through another major crisis. He discovers he has a vocation as an artist. This is a turning point in his life. He copies the paintings of Millet, whom he admires enormously. For a short time, he studies anatomy at the Royal Academy of the Arts in Brussels. It is at this time that he begins to receive financial assistance from his younger brother, Theo, an art dealer working at Goupil's since 1873.
He works with his cousin, the painter Anton Mauve, and produces many drawings and watercolours. He also begins learning oil painting.
He goes to live with his parents in the presbytery in Nuenen. He immerses himself in experimenting with various kinds of painting. His restless sensitivity and his great expressive force are already evident in the dark realism of this work.
He goes to live with Theo in Paris. He takes classes in the studio of the painter Cormon where he studies alongside Toulouse-Lautrec and émile Bernard. Under the influence of the painter Adolphe Monticelli, he does many paintings of flowers. He also becomes interested in Japanese prints.
Thanks to his brother, he sees Impressionist paintings and associates with artists such as Camille Pissarro and the neo-Impressionists George Seurat and Paul Signac. Like them, he adopts very pale colours and fragmented brushstrokes. He forms a friendship with Paul Gauguin.
Van Gogh becomes a regular in the bars and cabarets of Montmartre. He exhibits with Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec and also organizes a show of Japanese prints.
In February, Vincent goes to live alone in Arles. He rents the "yellow house " which he takes possession of only in September. He dreams of founding an artists' community led by Gauguin. Gauguin joins him there in October.
December 23. Following a violent argument with Gauguin, Vincent has a mental breakdown and in the evening, he cuts off his left ear lobe and takes it to a prostitute.
December 24. Van Gogh is admitted to the Arles hospital. Gauguin returns to Paris, but he remains in contact with Van Gogh.
On January 7, Van Gogh returns home. On February 9, suffering from hallucinations, he is readmitted to hospital. Then in March, after his neighbours circulate a petition calling him the "mad redhead," he is again committed.
May 8. He voluntarily enters the Saint-Paul-of-Mausole mental asylum at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
November. Six of Van Gogh's paintings are shown by the group Les Vingt in Brussels. The painter Anna Boch buys The Red Vineyard (1888) from him.
January. The first article devoted to Van Gogh outside the Netherlands is published in Le Mercure de France written by Albert Aurier.
May. Following Camille Pissarro's advice, Theo moves Vincent to Auvers-sur-Oise, just north of Paris, and entrusts him to the care of Doctor Paul Gachet, an art collector and friend of the Impressionists.
July 27. Vincent goes to the fields and shoots himself in the chest with a revolver. Doctor Gachet summons Theo to Auvers. Vincent dies during the night of the 29th, with his brother by his side. He is 37 years old. He is buried in Auvers.
January 25. After falling seriously ill, Theo dies only six months after Vincent. Johanna, Theo's widow, returns to the Netherlands, taking with her almost all of Vincent's paintings, which explains why the largest collections of Van Gogh are held there.
Theo's remains, which had been buried in Utrecht, are exhumed and reburied beside Vincent's body in the Auvers-sur-Oise cemetery.
The Vincent Van Gogh Museum opens its doors in Amsterdam. It houses the archives of the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation and has most of Vincent's letters, a library and many documents on the artist.
Text and research: Claude Lacroix
Portrait: Van Gogh Museum (Vincent van Gogh Foundation), Amsterdam
Vincent van Gogh
Born in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands, 30 March 1853
Died in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, 29 July 1890
Library and Archives