An Influential Genius: Early Life of Vincent Van Gogh

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Vincent Willem van Gogh, a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who lived from March 30, 1853, to July 29, 1890, was one of the most well-known and significant individuals in Western art history after his demise. He created around 2,100 pieces of art in ten years, including about 860 oil paintings, most of which were produced in the final two years of his life.

One of the best Post-Impressionists and is generally regarded as the greatest artist after Rembrandt van Rijn. His paintings’ vibrant hues, forceful brushstrokes, and curved forms significantly impacted the Expressionism trend in modern art.

Van Gogh was born into an upper-middle-class family. As a young individual, he was serious, quiet, and contemplative. Early on, he learned to draw, and as a young man, he worked as an art dealer, frequently traveling. However, after being relocated to London, he started to be depressed. In this article, we will delve into the early life of this highly influential painter in detail. 

Education and Career Choice

Van Gogh attended three different schools during his education: a high school in Tilburg for eighteen months, a boarding school in Zevenbergen for two years, and a year village school in Zundert. 

He started working at the French art dealer Goupil et Cie’s Hague gallery when he was sixteen years old. His uncle Vincent was a partner in the company. Theo, who was born on May 1, 1857, and later worked for the same company, was his brother. 

Vincent was relocated by Goupil in 1873 to London and again two years later to Paris, where he abandoned his aspirations to work as an art dealer. Instead, as his sister Elisabeth put it, he became “daffy with devotion,” threw out his contemporary, worldly book, and immersed himself in religion. He took little to no interest in his work and was relieved of his employment at the start of 1876.

Van Gogh then took a post as an assistant teacher in England but, disappointed by the lack of prospects, returned to Holland at the end of the year.

Training As A Clergyman

He then chose to pursue his father’s footsteps and become a preacher. Although troubled by his fanaticism and peculiar behavior, his parents were obliged to pay for the private lessons he would need to enter the institution. Another false start emerged from this.

Van Gogh neglected the lessons, and after short-lived training as an evangelist, he went to the Borinage coal-mining region in the south of Belgium. His ministry among the miners prompted him to relate profoundly with the workers and their families. 

In 1897, however, his appointment was not extended, and his parents lost hope, considering him a social misfit. In one unguarded moment, his dad even spoke of wanting to commit him to a mental asylum.

Choosing To Become An Artist

Vincent, too, was at his wits’ end, so after a long time of private soul-searching in the Borinage, he chose to listen to Theo’s suggestion and become an artist. As an evangelist, his initial desire to aid others gradually gave way to a desire to leave humanity “some memento in the form of drawings or paintings – not made to please any particular movement, but to express a sincere human feeling,” as he later wrote.

His parents did not support this latest change of course though Vincent van Gogh artwork became one of the most expensive paintings in the world. Financial responsibility for Vincent was transferred to his brother Theo, who now worked in the Paris gallery of Boussod, Valadon et Cie., the successor to Goupil’s. Theo was Van Gogh’s steadfast supporter, and it was because of Theo that Van Gogh later came to see his artwork as the result of his brother’s endeavors to see him succeed. A lengthy correspondence between both brothers (which began in August 1872) continued until the final days of Vincent’s life.

No one, not even Van Gogh, suspected he possessed such extraordinary abilities when he decided to pursue art. His development from a clueless but enthusiastic novice into a maestro was astonishingly rapid, creating the most famous Vincent Van Gogh artwork. He ultimately had an extraordinary feel for bold, harmonious colors and an infallible intuition for choosing basic but noteworthy compositions.

Training To Become A Painter

Van Gogh went to study at the academy in Brussels to get ready for his new career, but he only stayed for nine months. There he met Anthon van Rappard, who would later become his closest artist friend during his time in the Netherlands.

At the end of the first quarter of 1881, Van Gogh stayed with his parents in Etten in North Brabant, where Vincent set himself the task of learning to draw. He experimented tirelessly with various kinds of drawing materials and concentrated mainly on mastering the technical aspects of his craft, like perspective, physiognomy, and anatomy. Most of his subjects were inspired by the peasant way of life.

At the end of 1881, he relocated to The Hague, and he mainly focused on drawing there too. At first, he took lessons from Anton Mauve, his cousin by marriage. Still, the two quickly fell out, partially because Mauve was appalled by Vincent’s relationship with Sien Hoornik, a pregnant prostitute who also had an illegitimate child. In The Hague, Van Gogh made a few illustrations, but drawing was his biggest passion. To achieve his ambition to become a figure painter, he drew from the live model whenever he could.

Conclusion

Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings and drawings are regarded as some of the finest of his era. The man was an enigma of some sort, especially with the controversy that surrounded his death. It is a bit sad that his work got much more recognition after his death than while he was alive. The level of influence his works have had on modern art till today is a testament to how much of an excellent artist Vincent Van Gogh was.