I’m not going to include a full biography of Vincent van Gogh since such information is easily enough obtained from the more traditional media (do people still visit libraries and book shops these days?).
As I mention on my References page, David Sweetman’s Van Gogh: His Life and Art is an excellent biography and I would definitely recommend it. In addition, the chronology I include below gives a reasonable overview of the important events in the course of Vincent’s life. For my own Van Gogh site, I’d instead like to take a more personal approach (as I certainly do on my own Personal View page) and focus on a few details throughout the course of Vincent’s life which, for me, have some interest. Often these may be just isolated moments, but each one offers a clue to the overall tapestry of Van Gogh’s life. * The Wanderer: I’ve always been haunted by the image of Vincent as the wanderer–of his time spent in poverty and isolation as he sought to help those around him, and perhaps to find himself in the process. Picture Vincent as he gives one of his first sermons in Isleworth, outside of London. Ask yourself: if you could be anywhere at any point in history, what would your top ten choices be? Riding with Joan of Arc as she battled the Burgundians? Watching Mozart conduct the premier performance of Le nozze di Figaro? A quiet dinner with the Curies? For me, I’d say all of the above (and more), but I would give anything to have been able to see Vincent preach a sermon.
... belief in himself, ever endured such failure. Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting during his life time. He suffered fro an illness characterized ... Perhaps the only way to disentangle, for yourself, the real Vincent Van Gogh from the creation of so many others, is to study ... suffered from ill-fated luck. When lucid, in good health, Vincent Van Gogh could produce a masterpiece in a single day. To our ...
He was so passionate about his beliefs, but never really connected with the religious world. It must have really been something. Then, follow Vincent as he travels to Brussels on foot to seek counsel from Pastor Pietersen at the evangelical college. He has little more than the a few sketches and the clothes on his back, but he needs guidance in his overwhelming desire to help others. Vincent’s wanderings were not always religiously motivated. Another powerful image has Vincent walking 70 kilometers to Courri?res, France to see Jules Breton, a painter he admires. Upon reaching Breton’s house, Vincent is too timid to knock. The years of Vincent’s wandering suggest that he was looking for something. Did he ever find it? * The Man: I’m also intrigued by Vincent’s relationships with other people. Of course, his lifelong relationship with his brother, Theo, is of tremendous interest and importance, but I’m also fascinated by his relationships with women, specifically: the prostitute, Sien, and the incident with his cousin, Kee. I really do feel that the Sien portion of Vincent’s life is extremely well portrayed in the film Vincent and Theo.
You won’t find any Hollywood candy-coating here. This film confirms my own feelings about Vincent and Sien: they were both lonely, desperate people and, for some time, did bring some happiness into each other’s lives. At the same time, Sien has always struck me as a fairly cold, unyielding person. Is it true? Perhaps not–there’s so little real information available about Sien, about her life and her feelings. What happened to her after she parted from Vincent? I read that Sien remarried, but would eventually commit suicide by drowning. I’d like to know more about Sien and the fate of her children–she played an important role in Van Gogh’s life. There are many single events which stand out in Vincent’s life (the ear-cutting is, of course, the one that springs to the mind of most people).
Another specific moment which I find powerful is when Vincent confronts the parents of his cousin, Cornelia Adriana Vos-Stricker (Kee).
... The next morning he died. July 29 th, 1890. The life of Vincent Van Gogh was like a rollercoaster and that was incorporated in ... by his cousin Cornelia Adriana Vos-S tricker (Known as Kee). Devastated by her rejection, He spends a lot of time ... Mauve, Who introduces him to watercolors. In 1882 Vincent meets a woman known as Sien and they move in together. Sein is ...
Vincent’s love for Kee is unrequited, but he won’t be turned away. Vincent argues unsuccessfully with Kee’s parents and then, in order to prove his determination, holds his hand over the funnel of an oil lamp, intentionally burning himself. Kee’s father quickly defuses the situation by simply blowing out the lamp, but nevertheless it’s an incredibly powerful image. * The Painter: Here is another crucial point in Van Gogh’s life that I’d like to have seen for myself: Vincent as the always passionate, often eccentric artist. I love the idea of Vincent arguing art theory with other painters in Montmartre, but for me the most powerful and moving images come from his time in Arles. Here is Vincent: deeply hopeful that his dream of establishing an artists’ community in the south would soon come true. And yet always alone. One of Vincent’s most personal works of his Arles period is Painter on His Way to Work. It’s a very poignant image–Vincent as the lone painter, traipsing along the sun-scorched roads of Provence–looking for the right spot among the cypresses to set up his easel. Another favourite work of mine is a small sketch: The Road to Tarascon.
Here again, we see the lone figure walking among nature–his only companions, the trees. To me there’s as much of the real Vincent in this small sketch as there is in any of his more famous self-portraits. I was a bit disappointed to find out recently that another image of Van Gogh that I thought so wonderful is, in fact, untrue. Many people who know about Van Gogh and his works are familiar with the story of this passionate, misunderstood artist painting outdoors at night. In order to see better in these surroundings, Vincent placed candles around the brim of his hat. In an earlier version of this page I wrote “In my own humble opinion, there are a couple of moments that define the real essence of Van Gogh–painting with the candles in his hat is one of them”. Well, it turns out that the story of the hat and the candles is apocryphal. I looked into the subject further and it turns out to be a very old myth. I was disappointed, but it’s best to know the truth about Van Gogh. His life and works speak to me with the same clarity. * The End: It’s impossible not to be moved by the incredibly turbulent final years of Vincent’s life. Picture it–someone with a profound appreciation of nature and beauty one moment (and capturing it so well with his paints), and a seeming madman the next (trying to eat those same paints in order to kill himself).
She believed that instead of privatization or government involvement, it is better for a country to have common pooled ownership of natural resources, with the assumprion that decision-making process is transparent and democratic. Her studies “showed that when individuals have to answer for their actions to others depending on the same resources, ex. fishing grounds or common pastures, their ...
For me, though, the images of Vincent’s last few hours never fail to move me. Vincent is dying from his self-inflicted gunshot wound and spends his last few hours on earth with the most important person in his life, his brother Theo. Theo had always been there for Vincent–without Theo, there wouldn’t have been the Vincent we know today (to say nothing of his works).
There they are, the two of them–Theo climbs into bed with Vincent, cradles his head and Vincent says: “I wish I could pass away like this”. It’s an incredibly powerful image (mind you, other accounts tell us that Vincent’s last words were either “I wish it were all over now” or “The sadness will never end”–the image is the same).
The burial is equally moving. There is Vincent’s coffin, covered with sunflowers and surrounded by a group of people who knew him and cared for him. From Sweetman’s book: . . . . friends started to arrive by train from Paris. First came Andries Bonger with P?re Tanguy and Lucien Pissarro; later Emile Bernard and Charles Laval. As they waited by the coffin Dr. Gachet arrived with a bunch of sunflowers. More mourners came with yellow dalias and other yellow blooms. Soon the room was vibrant with Vincent’s glorious colour. All of these moments together, and so much more, help us to put together the puzzle of Vincent’s life–a life so profoundly troubled and yet which produced such incredible beauty. A life that will never be forgotten.