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Famous Artists: Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh (hard to say - try to rhyme it with 'cough') was born in 1853 in Groot-Zundert, Holland. He was one of six children and his father was Reverend Theodorus van Gogh, a pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church. Vincent had an older brother whose name was also Vincent van Gogh, who died at birth. Vincent was very close and good friends with his younger brother, Theo, who has the same name as their father. Vincent decided to become an artist when he was 17, although his earliest ambition was to become a pastor like his father.

Van Gogh began to start painting when he was 28. As an artist, Van Gogh was a firm believer that one should learn to draw before dabbling in colouring. He managed to master drawing and gradually added more colours to his sketches. The Starry Night, Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters are a few of Van Gogh’s famous paintings. The Potato Eaters is regarded to be his first major painting.  Dark colours were used and he had not mastered the techniques that made him famous today. Van Gogh painted his most famous artwork, The Starry Night, when he was staying in an asylum in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France.

The Starry Night is one of the most reproduced and sough after prints today. Another painting by Van Gogh that has made a huge impact is Sunflowers. Sunflowers portrays twelve sunflowers in a vase. The vibrancy of the colours is a symbol of life and emotions. The colours show the different aspects of life as a few of the sunflowers are in bloom, and a few are brown and dying. However, during his lifetime, he only sold one painting for 400 French francs, named The Red Vineyard. Van Gogh has painted approximately 900 paintings in a very short period of ten years between November 1881 and July 1890, but he became famous only after his death. He had written more than 800 letters when he was alive, and most of the letters were written to his brother, Theo.

Van Gogh was a troubled man when he was alive. He suffered severe depression due to his lack of self-confidence and failed romances. He suffered from seizures that were believed to be caused by epilepsy. Van Gogh was born with a brain lesion and many doctors believed that it became more serious due to Van Gogh’s prolonged consumptions of absinthe, a very alcoholic drink. One of Van Gogh’s doctors, Dr. Gachet, was thought to have prescribed him with digitalis to treat his epilepsy. Digitalis is said to cause the patient to see everything in yellow or see yellow spots. Van Gogh was also said to have suffered hypergraphia, which is the need to write continuously and is probably the reason why he wrote so many letters during his lifetime.

Vincent van Gogh ended his life at the age of 37 years old in 1890. He shot himself but he did not die until 2 days later.  Vincent’s brother, Theo died six months after that and is buried next to him in Auvers, France. After his death, Vincent’s sister in-law, Johanna Gessina Van Gogh has claimed his artworks and letters. She should be appreciated as the one who has dedicated herself in getting Van Gogh the recognition he deserved.

This is an original news article © The Kids Window

One in a series of articles about Art History written for children.

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