| Van Gogh, Vincent Biography
Vincent Van Gogh was born March 30, 1853, in Groot-Zundert, son of a Dutch Protestant pastor. By the age of 27 he had been in turn a salesman in an art gallery, a French tutor, a theological student, and an evangelist among the miners at Wasmes in Belgium. His experiences as a preacher are reflected in his first oil paintings of peasants and potato diggers; of these early works, the best known is the rough, earthy Potato Eaters (1885, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam). Dark and somber, sometimes crude, these early works evidence van Gogh's intense desire to express the misery and poverty of humanity as he saw it among the miners in Belgium.
In 1886 Vincent van Gogh went to Paris to live with his brother Theo van Gogh, an art dealer, and became familiar with the new art movements developing at the time. Influenced by the work of the impressionists and by the work of such Japanese printmakers as Hiroshige and Hokusai.
In 1888 van Gogh left Paris for southern France, where he painted scenes of the fields, cypress trees, peasants, and rustic life characteristic of the region. During this period, living at Arles, he began to use the swirling brush strokes and intense yellows, greens, and blues associated with such typical works as Bedroom at Arles (1888, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh), and Starry Night (1889, Museum of Modern Art, New York City). He induced the painter Paul Gauguin, whom he had met earlier in Paris, to join him. After less than two months they began to have violent disagreements, culminating in a quarrel in which van Gogh threatened Gauguin with a razor; the same night, in deep remorse, van Gogh cut off part of his own ear. For a time he was in a hospital at Arles. He then spent a year in the nearby asylum of Saint-Remy, working between repeated spells of madness. Just after completing his ominous Crows in the Wheatfields (1890, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh), he shot himself on July 27, 1890, and died two days later.
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