Van Gogh: biography of a representative of expressive painting

Van Gogh: biography of a representative of expressive painting
Vincent Willem van Gogh - self-portrait. Picture: Mrreporter | Dreamstime
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Vincent Willem van Gogh is an extraordinary artist. The forerunner of emotional art, impasto and contrast painting.

The artist is unhappy and unhappy. In today’s article, we will look at the early period of Van Gogh’s life, which played an important role in shaping his artistic worldview.

Childhood and youth

Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 in Zundert, the Netherlands. His father, Theo van Gogh, was a Protestant pastor. The Van Gogh family was mainly engaged in church affairs, as well as in the art trade. After leaving school in 1869, young Vincent began to study in The Hague, where art was sold. It is worth noting that, due to his language skills, in June 1873 he was sent to work in the London branch. It was there that he spent almost the next two years, and this period is said to have been a turning point in his life.

Van Gogh
Van Gogh. Picture: Mrreporter | Dreamstime

In London, Vincent initially lived a carefree life, enjoying the city’s sights, art galleries and museums. He fell in love with the owner’s daughter, which was met with great disappointment. Due to the fact that the woman of his life was engaged to another man, the young Van Gogh became quiet and sullen. He soon left for Paris.
During his stay in London and Paris, the young artist saw the plight of a poor city in which he wanted to serve humanity.

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In 1876 he moved again to England where he taught at schools in Ramsgate and Isleworth near London. In early 1877 he returned to the Netherlands and began working there in a bookstore in Dordrecht before moving to Amsterdam where he entered the seminary. However, this teaching was not for him, and he left it rather quickly. He then returned to his family home for a while and, after spending several months at an evangelical school in Brussels, became a lay preacher in the Borinage. Then he worked very hard, almost completely devoting himself to the local community. Helping others, he lived in extreme poverty.

Unfortunately, his work was not appreciated, and in July 1879 he was dismissed from his post. For the next year he lived in the Borinage, finding solace in drawing. In the summer of 1880 he decided to become an artist.


Van Gogh spent a lot of time copying the works of prominent artists and drawing. Initially, he was engaged only in drawing – he even wanted to become an illustrator. In fact, it was not until the end of 1881 that he began to paint his first oil paintings.

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After another unsuccessful love in 1881, the artist quarreled with his father – it is believed that this could also be caused by the obsession with his chosen one – cousin Ki Vos. He traveled to The Hague where he met Christian Maria Hoornick (named Sien), a poor seamstress, sometimes a prostitute out of necessity, with whom he lived for almost a year. Of course, the empathetic Vincent even wanted to marry a woman, which was met with strong protest, so that the young Van Gogh’s relative relationship collapsed. Throughout this difficult period, Vincent devotedly supported Brother Theo, constantly sending him money and comforting him with letters.

At the end of 1883, Vincent returned to his parents, who then moved to Neunen. In March 1886 he settled in Paris, joining his brother Theo, who worked there as a merchant.

Van Gogh
The Yellow House – painting by Van Gogh. Picture:

Vincent van Gogh never returned to the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the artist did not manage to find a job in Paris, and in February 1888 he left for Arles. Although Van Gogh’s work in Arles is particularly associated with bright, sun-drenched scenes, the artist’s source was the night. His works were opened at about twenty-seven years of age. At the age of thirty-seven, he painted the last painting of his life.

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After ten years of creative activity, he left about eight hundred canvases, several hundred drawings, sketches and lithographs. The characteristic features of Van Gogh’s painting are:

  • so-called suggestive color
  • invoice (impasto)
  • contrast
  • high color sensitivity

As he himself said: When I paint a landscape, I want it not to be some kind of petty-bourgeois mourning, but something that expresses my pain, the suffering of someone who has no place in society and never will. Looking at willows, I see their immediate beauty, music, freshness, sadness and melancholy, and I express these feelings individually, and therefore close to every human being.