Bak to Home - Shores of Positive Mental Health

Home - To the Shores of Positive Mental Health


Back to Index of Icons with Mental Health Problems.



True Stories
Book Fair
Video Gallery
Refer this Site
Contact Us

Privacy Policy

© Twilight Bridge™ All Rights Reserved

  Shop at



Vincent Van Gogh - The genius ignoredIf you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed. 

I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.
- Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh was an indisputable genius, utterly, indisputably ignored. He created hundreds of bold, brilliant paintings; only one was sold during his lifetime. He suffered from  Paranoid Schizophrenia and ultimately  committed suicide in 1890.
Here follows a brief outline of the life and times of this genius.

Early Life and Family:
Vincent Van Gogh,the eldest of six children was born to  Theodorus van Gogh and Anna Cornelia Carbentus on on March 30, 1853, in Zundert, a village in Brabant, in the south of the Netherlands. He excelled in languages, studying French, English, and Van Gogh in  his youth German. In March 1868, in the middle of the academic year, he abruptly left school and returned to Zundert. He did not resume his formal education. Van Gogh, being the son of a Lutheran minister, was very much drawn toward religion. Van Gogh decided to prepare himself for ministry by training in the study of theology. He failed at the courses and could not be the minister he hoped to become. Even though he failed the courses, he still had the desire to be a minister. His superiors sent him as a lay missionary to Belgium instead. There he wanted to be like his father and help out the unfortunates as a preacher. He tried to fight poverty through the teachings of Christ. Van Gogh’s mission had to be discontinued. His approach to fighting poverty did not make his superiors happy. In 1879, he moved to his father’s home in Ettan and stayed a while. He then left Ettan and went to The Hague.

Impressonism and the City:
After leaving Belgium, he found he enjoyed painting stuff that moved him emotionally. He then thought painting would be the way to go in his life. On February 27, 1886, Vincent arrived in Paris. He lived with Theo in Montmartre, an artists' quarter. The move was formative in the development of his painting style. Theo, who managed the Montmartre branch of Goupil's (now called Boussod, Valadon & Cie), acquainted Vincent with the works of Claude Monet and other Impressionists. Previously he had known only Dutch painting and the French Realists; now he saw for himself how the Impressionists handled light and color, and treated their original themes from the town and country. For four months Van Gogh studied at the prestigious teaching atelier of Fernand Cormon, and he begans to meet the city's modern artists, including Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Emile Bernard, Camille Pissarro, and John Russell.

Self Potrait of Vincent Van GoghNew Approaches to his works: Vincent's Paris work was an effort to assimilate the influences around him. As he began to formulate his own artistic idiom, he progressed through the styles and subjects of the Impressionists. His palette become brighter, his brushwork more broken. Like the Impressionists, Vincent took his subjects from the city's cafés and boulevards, and the open countryside along the Seine River. Through Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, he  discovered the stippling technique of Neoimpressionism, also called Pointillism, and freely experimented with the style. "What is required in art nowadays," he wrote, "is something very much alive, very strong in color, very much intensified." His  interest in portraiture became imminent when he painted 20 portraits in Paris. Soon after arriving in Paris, Vincent sensed how outmoded his dark-hued palette has become. He painted studies of flowers, which Theo describes as "finger exercises"-practice pieces in which he tried to "render intense color and not a gray harmony."  His palette gradually lightened, and his sensitivity to color in the landscape intensifies. Vincent regularly painted outdoors in Asnières, a village near Paris where the Impressionists often set up their easels. Vincent found it difficult to work in Paris and moved to Provence, Southern France. He painted the landscape. It conveyed particular emotions, an innovation that aligned his work with Postimpressionism. In December, Vincent faced a psychotic episode and had a row with Gauguin a fellow painter, who lived with him and later cut off a piece of his own left ear. He was admitted to a hospital in Arles and remained there through January of 1889.


Encampment of Gypsies with Caravans 1888 Musée d'Orsay, Paris Work In the Asylum: Vincent suffered from severe psychological breakdown.1889. He voluntarily admited himself to the psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy, 15 miles from Arles. The admitting physician, Dr. Théophile Peyron, noted that Vincent suffered from "acute mania with hallucinations of sight and hearing." But he continued painting. Vincent was sometimes without the stamina or confidence to execute original works. He regained his bearings by painting copies after his favorite artists, including Millet, Rembrandt, and Delacroix. Relying on his collection of prints, Vincent translated the black and white reproductions into his own intensely personal color compositions. He made more than twenty copies of Millet's peasant scenes, and he reinvented Delacroix's Pieta, in which the bearded Christ beared some resemblance to himself. After one particularly violent attack, in which he attempted to poison himself by swallowing paint, Vincent was forced for a time to confine himself to drawing.

Cafe Terrace at Night, 1888, Kroller-Muller Sttichting, OtterloHis masterpieces: While in Arles, and Saint-Rémy as well, Vincent sent his canvases to Theo in Paris. Despite his illness, he painted one masterwork after another during this time, including Irises, Cypresses, and The Starry Night. His works started getting recognition. The progressive Belgian artists' group Les Vingt included six of his paintings in their 1890 exhibition. Vincent left for Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris. Vincent set about painting portraits of his new acquaintances and the local landscape, including nearby wheatfields and the garden of the painter Daubigny. He worked with great intensity, he produces nearly a painting a day over the next two months. A series of 12 canvases in a distinctive panoramic format celebrates country life.

Starry Night, 1889 one of the most famous paintings of Vincent VanGoghDespair: In early July Vincent visited Theo in Paris. Frustrated by his work at Boussod's, Theo considered setting up his own business, and he warned Vincent that they will all have to tighten their belts. Strongly affected by Theo's dissatisfaction, Vincent grew  increasingly tense: "My life is also threatened at the very root, and my steps are also wavering." On July 27, 1890, Vincent walked to a wheat field and shot himself in the chest. He stumbled back to his lodging, where he dies two days later, on July 29, with Theo at his side.

Aftermath: The paintings were inherited by Theo his brother. After Theo's death in 1891, his wife, Joanne and son Vincent Willem van Gogh (1890-1978) inherited this legacy. Later Vincent Willem Van Gogh transfered the works he owned to the newly formed Vincent van Gogh Foundation in 1962. Construction of the museum building, designed by the modernist Dutch architect Gerrit  Rietveld, begans in 1969. The museum officially opened its doors in 1973. Since then, the building houses the largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh, on loan from the Vincent van Gogh Foundation.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
------------Vincent Van Gogh

Love is something eternal, the aspect may change, but not the essence.
--------------Vincent Van Gogh

Back to Icons Home page