Biography

Vincent Willem van Gogh (Dutch pronunciation: [vɪnˈsɛnt vɑnˈxɔx] ) (March 30, 1853 in ZundertJuly 29, 1890 in Auvers-sur-Oise) was a Dutch draughtsman and painter, classified as a Post-Impressionist. His paintings and drawings include some of the world's best known, most popular and most expensive pieces. He suffered from recurrent bouts of mental illness — about which there are many competing theories — and during one such episode, famously cut off a part of his left ear.

Van Gogh spent his early life working for a firm of art dealers, and after a brief spell as a teacher, became a missionary worker in a very poor mining region. He did not embark upon a career as an artist until 1880, at the age of 27. Initially he worked in sombre colors, until an encounter in Paris with Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism accelerated his artistic development. He produced all of his more than 2,000 works, including around 900 paintings and 1100 drawings or sketches, during the last ten years of his life. Most of his best-known works were produced in the final two years of his life, and in the two months before his death he painted 90 pictures.

The central figure in Vincent van Gogh's life was his brother Theo, an art dealer with the firm of Goupil & Cie, who continually and selflessly provided financial support. Their lifelong friendship is documented in numerous letters they exchanged from August 1872 onwards, which were published in 1914, by Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, Theo's widow, who generously supported most of the early Van Gogh exhibitions with loans from the artist's estate.

Van Gogh has been acknowledged as a pioneer of what came to be known as Expressionism and has had an enormous influence on 20th century art, especially on the Fauves and German Expressionists, with a line that continues through to the Abstract Expressionism of Willem de Kooning and the British painter Francis Bacon.