Thursday, April 12, 2012

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Vincent van Gogh

One of the most mesmerising, brilliant and intriguing artist – both professionally and personally – to ever walk this earth was Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, born Vincent Willem van Goghwas. The post-Impressionist painter is known for his emotional honest oil paintings, fused with bold and bright colour and coarse beauty. Despite his widespread fame and impact, several aspects of Van Gogh’s professional and personal life are not well known to the public. They are as follows:

Posthumous fame obscenely outweighs his contemporary standing Most artists find their artwork appreciates in value after the die, which is of course one of the supreme ironies of art. If you live long enough, however, the world might just catch up to your genius, as did Picasso, Matisse and Monet, for example. Unfortunately, Van Gogh, like Alfred Sisley, belongs to the former camp: in his life he only sold one painting, The Red Vineyard (1888), for 400 Swiss Francs, or the equivalent of about USD $1,600 today.

Now consider how much Van Gogh’s oil paintings are worth today (all prices adjusted for inflation): his 1890 oil painting Portrait Of Dr. Gachet is the fourth most expensive painting ever, sold for $144.1 million. The second most expensive Van Gogh painting is Portrait of Joseph Roulin (1889), sold for $107 million. Next is Irises (1889), which was sold for $105.1 million, followed by Self-Portrait Without Beard (1889) for $98.5 million, A Wheatfield With Cypresses (1889) for $89.2 million, Vase With Fifteen Sunflowers (1888) for $79.9 million and Peasant Woman Against A Background Of Wheat (1890) for $66.8 million. Add up the seven oil paintings and the total is more than $670 million, an amount that Van Gogh could have only dreamt of. In fact, the artist was so financially destitute that most of his support came from his brother Theo.

Special brotherly bond If there was a prize for Best Supporting Brother in Artistic Drama, the Oscar would have to go to Theo Van Gogh. Vincent’s younger brother made it possible for his brother to paint, and for Van Gogh’s paintings to have the impact they have on the world today. He supported Vincent throughout his whole life, not just financially but emotionally and intellectually – important factors, considering Vincent’s near-constant depression. Theo died just six months after Vincent’s passing, apparently overcome with the loss compounding other physical ailments. As in life, the pair are together in death. They are buried next to each other in Auvers-sur-Oise. Was he accidentally shot?

Pulitzer Prize winning biographers Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith argue in Van Gogh: the Life, that the artist was accidentally shot by either a boy or two boys known to have a gun in the area. Their counter-evidence, CSI style! Firstly, Van Gogh had no experience with guns. Secondly, revolvers were tremendously rare in rural France. Thirdly, his stomach wound is very unusual for someone whom shoots themselves in a suicide attempt. Also, the traditional story is that Van Gogh shot himself in a wheat field after a session of painting – however, no painting easel was ever found, and the revolver was not found either. Finally, the authors contend that there was no motivation, perhaps the most important factor in any suicide: Van Gogh had just sold his one and only painting, he received praise from Monet and Parisian critics, and he didn’t leave a suicide note to his beloved brother Theo, who was on his way to visit him. As the authors said: “It just doesn’t make sense.”

Tracy Raian is passionate about everything paintings and arts. Whenever she's not out having fun she writes about oil paintings. For more information on the most popular oil painting reproductions on the market, please visit

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