Artist in Focus - Vincent Van Gogh - Portraits & Studies


Vincent van Gogh took up painting around 1880 after working as an art dealer, teacher and a missionary. He worked prodigiously, supported by his parents and brother, Theo, concentrating particularly on scenes of peasant life. Van Gogh travelled to Paris in 1886 and studied at Cormon’s atelier, where he met Toulouse-Lautrec and Emile Bernard. There he absorbed Impressionism and Neo- Impressionism which encouraged him to adopt a dramatic technique, creating strongly patterned compositions which made him one of the greatest Post-Impressionist artists.

In February 1888, Van Gogh moved to Provence. Living in poverty, he painted over two hundred canvases in fifteen months but sold none of them. His mental health had always been suspect (he cut off part of his left ear during an argument with Gauguin) and, in December, he suffered a breakdown, subsequently spending a year living in the hospital at St Remy.

After leaving the hospital Van Gogh moved to Auvers in Northern France, where sadly he killed himself in July 1890. Van Gogh’s art became astonishingly popular after his death, particularly in the late 20th century, when his work sold for record-breaking sums. Van Gogh’s success seems in part because of his collection of published letters and fascinating personal life. He is commonly thought of as the ‘quintessential tortured artist’ due to his unstable mental health and the huge impact this had on his practice.



Further Van Gogh curations can be found in the links below.

In the Country

Flowers & Blossoms 

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