Van Gogh, a genius (unfortunately) way ahead of its time

It seems to be the fate of some geniuses only to achieve recognition after they are dead. Vincent Van Gogh is a paradigmatic case of this "curse".

Mar 30, 2023 - 19:28
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Van Gogh, a  genius (unfortunately) way ahead of its time
The Red Vineyard, by Vincent Van-Gogh - Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, Russia

During Vincent van Gogh's lifetime he did not achieve significant commercial success. The only known sale that occurred during his lifetime was "The Red Vineyard," which was sold to the Belgian painter and collector Anna Boch in 1888.

"The Red Vineyard" is a significant work in art history as it is the only painting that Vincent van Gogh is known to have sold during his lifetime. It was purchased by Anna Boch in 1888, a year before Van Gogh's death. The painting is currently in the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, Russia, which acquired it in 1948.

Many of his remarkable works, such as "Starry Night," "Sunflowers," "Irises," and "Portrait of Dr. Gachet," were not sold during Van Gogh's lifetime. These paintings gained recognition and appreciation after his death and are now considered some of his most valuable and iconic pieces.

Van Gogh struggled financially and was often dependent on the financial support of his brother Theo, who was an art dealer. He produced over 2,000 artworks during his lifetime but his genius and talent were not fully recognized during his life, and it was only after his tragic death in 1890 that his work started gaining widespread appreciation and fame.

Van Gogh - Self portait (1889) - Musée d’Orsay, ParisVan Gogh's life

Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter, born on March 30, 1853, in the village of Groot-Zundert, Netherlands. He was the son of a minister and showed an early interest in art. However, his artistic career began relatively late in his life, and he struggled with various personal and professional challenges throughout his journey.

In his early adulthood, Van Gogh worked in various professions, including as an art dealer and a teacher. He moved frequently between cities, trying to find his true calling. Inspired by the works of Jean-François Millet and Jules Breton, he started drawing and painting seriously in his late twenties.

In 1886, Van Gogh moved to Paris, where he was exposed to the works of the Impressionists and other contemporary artists. His style evolved, and he experimented with brighter colors and more expressive brushwork. During this time, he befriended artists such as Paul Gauguin and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.

In 1888, seeking inspiration and a new artistic community, Van Gogh relocated to Arles in the south of France, were he created some of his most famous works, including "Starry Night," "Sunflowers," and "The Yellow House."

Throughout his life, Van Gogh struggled with mental health issues and emotional instability. He famously cut off part of his ear during a heated argument with Gauguin in 1888. After this incident, he voluntarily admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where he continued to paint prolifically.

Tragically, Vincent van Gogh's life was cut short when he died by suicide on July 29, 1890, at the age of 37. His death came after years of mental and emotional turmoil, and he left behind a legacy of exceptional artwork that has had a profound impact on the art world.

Though unappreciated during his lifetime, Vincent van Gogh is now considered one of the most influential and celebrated artists in history. His unique style, emotional intensity, and bold use of color have inspired generations of artists and continue to captivate art enthusiasts worldwide.

Remarkable works

Vincent van Gogh created numerous remarkable works during his relatively short artistic career. His paintings are known for their bold use of color, expressive brushwork, and emotional intensity. Some of his most remarkable and iconic works include:

  • "Starry Night" (1889): This painting depicts a swirling night sky filled with stars over a small town. It is one of Van Gogh's most famous and celebrated works, showcasing his unique style and emotional depth.

  • "Sunflowers" series (1888-1889): Van Gogh created several paintings featuring sunflowers in vases, each with its own unique composition and color palette. These vibrant and exuberant works are among his most recognizable pieces.

  • "Irises" (1889): Another famous floral painting by Van Gogh, "Irises" features a striking composition of blue and purple irises against a rich green background.

  • "Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear" (1889): This poignant self-portrait was painted shortly after Van Gogh famously cut off part of his ear during a period of emotional turmoil. It is a powerful representation of his inner struggles.

  • "The Potato Eaters" (1885): One of Van Gogh's early masterpieces, this painting depicts a group of rural peasants gathered around a table. It is a somber and realistic portrayal of their harsh living conditions.

  • "Café Terrace at Night" (1888): This charming nighttime scene captures the ambiance of a café in Arles, France, with its warm, inviting colors and lively atmosphere.

  • "Wheatfield with Crows" (1890): Often cited as one of his last works, this dramatic landscape features a vast wheat field with crows flying overhead. It is sometimes associated with Van Gogh's troubled state of mind before his death.

  • "Portrait of Dr. Gachet" (1890): This portrait depicts Dr. Paul Gachet, Van Gogh's physician and friend. It is one of the most expensive paintings ever sold, reflecting the significance and rarity of Van Gogh's portraits.

These are just a few examples of Vincent van Gogh's most remarkable works. His artistic legacy continues to captivate audiences worldwide, and his influence on modern art remains profound.

Paintings by Vincent van Gogh have been known to fetch incredibly high prices in the art market. The value of a Van Gogh painting can vary significantly based on factors such as the painting's historical significance, rarity, condition, provenance, and demand.

Some of Van Gogh's most famous works, such as "Starry Night," "Irises," "Sunflowers," and "Portrait of Dr. Gachet," have sold for hundreds of millions of dollars each in private sales and auctions. These prices make Van Gogh's paintings some of the most expensive and sought-after artworks in the world.

Janet Bluesky Member of EA Coordination Team