Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 at Groot-Zundert’s, in the south of the Netherlands, from a protestant family.

The name Vincent was picked by his parents in memory of his late baby brother, who was stillborn a year before. When Vincent was twelve, his father placed him in a boarding school at Zevenbergen, a small village twenty kilometers from home, before moving him to a middle school in Tilburg, two years later.

In a letter to his brother Theo, Van Gogh would reminisce about his youth, calling it “unhappy, cold and sterile.”

On July 1869, Van Gogh starts working at the Hague branch of Goupil & Cie, a company owned by his uncle who was an art dealer. During his first three years as an art dealer, Vincent comfortably settles into the art world, constantly working with paintings and visiting museums, gradually becoming an expert.

In 1873, he is transferred to the London branch of Goupil & Cie, where the painter falls into a state of deep depression because of his ill-fated romantic life.

Meanwhile, talks of God and religion frequently show up in his letters. In May 1875, Van Gogh moves to Paris for company’s business, but, shortly thereafter, in 1976, he decides to leave his job and the trade forever, despite

having committed to it six years of his life.

After a series of professional failures, finding himself in a rather grim and troublesome emotional state, Vincent, with the help of his brother Theo, decides to truly commit to painting.

At the beginning of the year 1880, he moves to Brussels, where he will follow a series of courses at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. During this time, he produces a significant number of paintings, promoting the idea that the principal aspect of painting is not talent, as much as constant practice and diligence.


Mano travels have enriched the creative growth of the artist, but its zenith is reached when his brother Theo moves to Paris in 1886, where Van Gogh is able to meet artists of the caliber of Camille Pissarro, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin and Edgar Degas.

In Paris, Vincent will create over 230 works of art and will finally succeed in settling into the community of the Parisian artistic world. In February 1888, pushed by the urge to explore the south of France, Van Gogh moves to Arles, where he diligently works at developing his own artistic style.

The arrival of Gaugin will mark a pivotal point of his life during this time. After many disputes and fights between the two artists, Vincent has a mental breakdown and cuts his left ear’s lobe, for reasons that are still being debated by art historians nowadays.

In the aftermath of this violent episode, the painter is hospitalized and later transferred to a psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy. Van Gogh’s condition at the hospital is unstable with periods of frenetic artistic labour, interspersed by bouts of apathy and profound crisis.

Vincent leaves the hospital during the first half of May 1890 and decides to go back to Paris for a few days to see his beloved brother Theo.

After this short visit, he settles down in Auvers-sur-Oise, a little village near Paris, where Vincent takes a room at a hotel before moving into a little attic room.

On the 27th of July 1890, Vincent Van Gogh is walking towards the wheatfields to work on his “en plein air” paintings. A few hours later, he will shoot himself in the chest with a pistol. In the night of July 29, 1890, Vincent Van Gogh dies of his injuries with his brother by his side.


Van Gogh’s first paintings are characterized by a moderate choice of colors, textures and characters, mainly taken from the ordinary and monotonous life of citizens and peasants, which are achieved through faded and blurry shades. During his stay in the Netherlands and Belgium, Van Gogh develops his artistic abilities painting all that surrounds him. The paintings from this period are dominated by dark tones that convey his inner turmoil (“The Potato Eaters”, a series of studies on peasants) Van Gogh’s move to Paris brings about a change in the artist’s color palette: inspired by the free atmosphere of the city, Vincent starts to use more vibrant colors. His meeting with Paul Signac is of significant importance: Signac co-developed a technique called pointillism, by applying colors on the canvas with small dots which form an entire composition. Van Gogh is most likelyinspired by Signac’s technique, and his explicit and rough traits.

After moving to Arles, the artist frees himself from the influence of the Parisian Impressionists and starts to develop a more original and authentic style characterized by luminosity, expressiveness and saturation of the colors.

The key color on Van Gogh’s palette is yellow, one of the main colors of the spectrum that contrasts blue, forming the basis for a warm range of colors. In Van Gogh’s paintings, the color yellow is the iconic element that remains constant in his body of work. The pigment, chromium yellow, was made from lead and chromium oxide which made the substance very toxic.

At the end of 1889 the artist attempts suicide by swallowing the colors directly from the tubes. This accident may have aggravated his physical condition, since lead poisoning can cause aggressiveness, insomnia, short term memory loss and weakness – all symptoms that the artist was experiencing at the time.

In his letters, Van Gogh writes extensively about colors, explaining the combinations used in his paintings: “Instead of trying to paint exactly what I have in front of my eyes, I use colors arbitrarily, to achieve a stronger way o expressing myself.”