Four elements stood out in Vincent's life: art, religion, his mental illness and his brother Theo. Vincent moved around a lot in his early life, never really belonging anywhere. His father was a minister. Two lines of profession were tradition in the family; religion and art dealing. Vincent tried both, and for a while he was successful as an art dealer. But though he had several positions in service of the church, he never rendered appreciation for any of them, nor did he manage to make a decent living by it.
There were many disputes between Vincent and his family over the years, particularly with his father. Vincent never married, though he planned to do so three times in his life. The first time he was deeply in love with his landlady's daughter, while he was working as an art dealer in London. She turned him down, after which religion increasingly occupied his mind.
In 1880 Van Gogh decided to become a painter; he was then 27 years old. Two years later he began to paint in oil. At the age of 35 he moved to Arles in Southern France, and was taken by the strong sunlight there. His paintings grew brighter in color. He rented part of a property known as the Yellow House. The well known series with sunflowers are among those he painted to decorate the Yellow House.
Vincent had met Paul Gauguin while they were both staying in Paris. Van Gogh convinced Gauguin to join him in Arles. The arrangement worked out for a while, but it was after an intermezzo with Gauguin that van Gogh cut of a piece of his ear. Vincent never took care of himself, he was unable to eat and sleep properly. He existed mainly on bread, coffee, absinthe and tobacco. His mental illness grew worse as he became older, in periods forcing him to stay in asylums. The boasts of illness interfered with his work, which was very frustrating for him. In the summer of 1890 he planned to kill himself, and so he shot himself in a field. This was after he had just finished a series of paintings with wheat fields. He seriously wounded himself, but decided not to follow through. He therefore walked home and went to bed. Two days later he died from the injury. During the last 70 days of his life he painted more than one canvas a day.
Throughout his life his brother Theo, an art dealer, was a supporter of Vincent. They had a close relation, though they sometimes fell out. With the impressionists painters' raising popularity, it was hard for Theo to find a market for Vincent's work. The letters between the two brothers are the main source of information on Vincents life and thoughts on art. Theo was at Vincent's side when he died. The artist's last words were: "The sadness will last forever.” Six months after Vincent's death, Theo died too, unable to cope with the loss of his brother and lifelong companion.
Vincent van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime, "The Red Vineyard", though towards the end of his life he gained appreciation from fellow painters and art dealers.
The legacy of Vincent van Gogh is remarkable. He has left behind around 2000 artworks. He has been a strong influence on generations of artists and his paintings are among the most expensive and exclusive works of art today.
The potato Eaters (1885)
Portrait of Père Tanguy (1887)
Bedroom in Arles (1888)
The Red Vineyard (1888)
The Night Café (1888)
The Yellow House (1888)
Café Terrace at Night (1888)
Starry Night Over the Rhone (1888)
Joseph Roulin (The Postman) (1888)
The Starry Night (1889)
Wheat Field with Cypresses (1889)
Portrait of Doctor Gachet (1890)
The Round of Prisoners (1890)
Road with Cypress and Star (1890)
Wheatfield with Crows (1890)