Vincent van Gogh

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2011, 12:00am


Vincent van Gogh was born on this day in 1853 in the Netherlands. He was known as a Dutch post-Impressionist painter. Like many artists, he only became famous after his death. He died on July 29, 1890, two days after shooting himself. He suffered from anxiety and mental illness throughout his life.


Vincent and his brother Theo were very close. The letters they wrote each other gave historians much information about Vincent's life. Theo often gave Vincent money. He missed Vincent so much after Vincent died. He died six months later.

Yellow sunflowers

Van Gogh's famous Sunflowers was painted in Paris in 1888. He was waiting for his friend Paul Gauguin to arrive. One day Van Gogh threatened Gauguin with a razor blade. Van Gogh felt so bad about it he cut off the lower part of his left ear lobe. Gauguin left Arles and they never saw each other again. Soon after, Van Gogh was admitted to a mental hospital.

Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints

In 1886, Van Gogh was living with his brother Theo in Paris. He collected Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints during this time. He used them in many of his paintings. Portrait of Pere Tanguy has several behind the main character.

Colours In 1879, Van Gogh worked as a missionary in Belgium. He painted The Potato Eaters during this time. Dark colours were used in this painting. They seemed to show the climate of Belgium. When he moved to the south of France in 1886, he found the sun much brighter. His paintings became brighter.


In 1888, Van Gogh went to Arles. He was so different from other people that a woman remembered him for 100 years. She was 13 when he went to her uncle's shop to buy canvas. Jeanne Calment, 113, remembered him as being very unpleasant.

Now do this:

1 Besides painting, what other work did Vincent van Gogh do?

a. He was a sailor

b. He was a missionary

c. He was a carpenter

2 What part of his body did he cut off after he threatened his friend?

a. Part of his ear

b. Part of his nose

c. Part of his toe

3 How did historians learn so much about Van Gogh's life?

a. From his diary

b. From his friends

c. From letters he wrote to his brother

Answers: 1. b, 2. a, 3. c