Little Bits of History

Vincent van Gogh

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 3, 2010

Vincent the Theo van Gogh's graves

March 3, 1853: Vincent van Gogh is born in Groot-Zundest, Holland. The son of a pastor, his life was a miasma of low self esteem. By the time he finally decided to become an artist, he had already failed at two romances and was unsuccessful as a clerk in a bookstore, an art salesman, and a preacher in Belgium. He stayed on in Belgium to study art.

In 1886 he went to Paris where he met Pissarro, Monet, and Gauguin. He adopted an Impressionist style of painting with brighter colors and smaller brushstrokes. Because of his temperament, late night gabfests with his friends, and long hours during the day painting, his health declined. Vincent and his younger brother Theo, were friends throughout their lives with the younger brother being supportive in times of need, both emotionally and financially.

He moved to Arles and was joined by Gauguin. He vacillated between madness and lucidity. Van Gogh suffered from anxiety as well as frequent episodes of mental illness. He also drank too much. He was a smoker and suffered from a smokers cough. All in all, van Gogh suffered much. The two artists eventually fought, and van Gogh drew an open razor, suffering a cut ear.

In May of 1890 he moved to Auvers-sur-Oise under the care of a doctor. The move also brought him back closer to Theo. While he had suffered from mental aberrations all his life, the episodes were coming closer together were more intense. He was often unable to paint. Two months later he committed suicide. He walked into a field and shot himself in the chest, using a revolver. He survived the initial injury and walked back to his hotel. Theo came to be with his dying brother and two days later, Vincent died in bed muttering “this sadness will last forever.” His paintings can be seen online at

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” – Edgar Degas

“What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art.” – Augustus Saint-Gaudens

“You have Van Gogh’s ear for music” – Artemus Ward

Also on this day, in 1891 the rules for soccer were debated leading to changes.

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3 Responses

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  1. Sherry said, on March 6, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Never knew I shared three things with Vincent; a birthday, a “Van” last name (my maiden name), and – sorry to be morbid – severed body parts (I lost a finger, albeit not purposefully.) On top of that, “Starry Night” was my mother’s favorite painting.

    • patriciahysell said, on March 6, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      Happy belated birthday. “Vincent” was a favorite song of mine and I always hear Starry, Starry Night sung.

  2. Sherry said, on March 7, 2015 at 6:02 am

    Thank you, Patricia.

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