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Vincent van Gogh – A Virtual Tour

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh – Virtual Tour

Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853 – 1890) is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western Art. Yet, Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime and was considered a madman and a failure.

Van Gogh created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life.

His art was characterized by bold colors and dramatic, impulsive, and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art.

A Virtual Tour of Vincent van Gogh

Highlights Tour of Vincent van Gogh

Starry Night

“The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the view from the east-facing window of Van Gogh’s asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, just before sunrise, with the addition of an idealized village.

“The Starry Night” is regarded as one of Van Gogh’s most beautiful works and is one of the most recognized paintings in the history of Western culture. Museum:  Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Vincent van Gogh

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The Starry Night Over the Rhône

“Starry Night Over the Rhône” is one of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous paintings. The painting of Arles at night time was painted from the quay on the east side of the Rhône River.

This spot was only a two-minute walk from the Yellow House, which Van Gogh was renting at the time. Museum:  Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Vincent van Gogh


“Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh, was painted in 1888 and is one of four sunflower paintings in his “Arles Sunflowers” series. Sunflowers were symbolic of happiness for Van Gogh.

The “Arles Sunflowers” series was painted in Arles and was intended to decorate Gauguin’s room in the house that he had rented in the South of France. He and Gauguin worked there together for three months.

“Sunflowers” was the painting that Van Gogh was most proud of, and it is one of Van Gogh’s most famous works and one of the most reproduced. Museum:  The National Gallery, London

Vincent van Gogh

Irises (Getty Museum)

“Irises” is one of several paintings of ‘Irises’ by Vincent van Gogh and one of a series of paintings he painted at the asylum in Saint-Rémy, France, in the last year before his death.

In 1889 after several episodes of self-mutilation and hospitalization, Van Gogh chose to enter an asylum. In the asylum, in the last year before his death, he created over 120 paintings.

Shortly after entering the asylum, Van Gogh started Irises, working from nature in the asylum’s garden. He called painting “the lightning conductor for my illness” because he felt that he could keep himself from going insane by continuing to paint. Museum:  Getty Museum

Vincent van Gogh

Self Portrait, dedicated to Paul Gauguin

“Self Portrait, dedicated to Paul Gauguin” is a self-portrait depicting his face as it appeared in the mirror. His right side in the image is, in reality, the left side of his face.

Van Gogh’s painted dozens of self-portraits. They were an essential part of his work as a painter. Vincent van Gogh wanted to reinvent painting through the genre of portraiture, he encouraged other artists to paint themselves, and then to exchange the canvases.

Van Gogh received self-portraits from Emile Bernard, and Gauguin and Van Gogh sent this portrait to Gauguin with the inscription “To my friend Paul Gauguin.”

He described the process of creating his portrait in several letters to his brother Theo, an art dealer in Paris. Van Gogh explained how he modeled his features influenced by Japanese prints.

He added color effect with the contours of his jacket and painted the background in a “pale Veronese green” without shadows. Museum: Harvard Art Museums

Vincent van Gogh

Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin

“Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin” by Vincent van Gogh is one of six paintings that van Gogh painted of his close friend.

Joseph Roulin was a postal worker from the southern French town of Arles. Joseph Roulin, the local postman, was one of his favorite sitters in Arles.

Van Gogh wrote to his brother: “I am now at work with another model, a postman in a blue uniform, trimmed with gold, a big bearded face, very like Socrates.”

Van Gogh painted several portraits of Joseph Roulin and Madame Roulin, as well as their children. The “Roulin Family” is a group of portrait paintings that Vincent van Gogh painted in Arles in 1888 and 1889.

Van Gogh loved to paint portraits. However, it was difficult for financial reasons for him to find models. Fortunately, the entire family agreed to sit for Van Gogh over several sittings, and each was a delight for Van Gogh. Museum:   The Barnes Foundation

Vincent van Gogh

White House at Night

“White House at Night” by Vincent van Gogh was created six weeks before his death. It is thought that van Gogh painted “White House at Night” around 8:00 PM, based on the position of the “star” in the painting.

Astronomers calculated that the star in the picture must be Venus, which was bright in the evening sky in June 1890. Does this painting express Van Gogh’ s psychological tension?

The painting itself has had a turbulent history. In the late 1920s, it became part of a private collection of a German industrialist.

Pictures of this style were labeled “degenerate art” by the Nazis, which contributed to this painting and other Post-Impressionism paintings being kept secret. Museum:   Hermitage Museum

Vincent van Gogh

The Night Café

“The Night Café” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the interior of Café de la Gare in Arles. Five customers are sitting at tables, and a waiter in a light coat is standing and facing the viewer.

A half-curtained doorway in the center background is leading to the private quarters. The title of this painting is inscribed lower right beneath the signature.

In highly contrasting and vivid colors, the paint is applied thickly, with the perspective leading toward the door in the back. Museum:   Yale University Art Gallery

Vincent van Gogh

Self-Portrait as a Painter

“Self-Portrait as a Painter” by Vincent van Gogh is one of the dozens of self-portraits, Van Gogh made, and they are an essential part of his body of work as a painter.

Van Gogh painted over 30 self-portraits placing him among the most prolific self portraitists of all time. Van Gogh used portrait painting as a method of introspection and a way of developing his skills as an artist. Museum:   Van Gogh Museum

Vincent van Gogh

Self Portrait with Felt Hat

“Self Portrait with Felt Hat” by Vincent van Gogh is one of the dozens of self-portraits he made, and they were an essential part of the body of work as a painter.

Van Gogh painted over 30 self-portraits placing him among the most prolific self portraitists of all time. Van Gogh used portrait painting as a method of introspection and a way of developing his skills as an artist.  Museum:   Van Gogh Museum

Vincent van Gogh

Wheat Field with Cypresses (MET)

“Wheat Field with Cypresses” at the MET is one of three similar 1889 paintings by Vincent van Gogh, as part of his wheat field series.

All were created at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole mental asylum at Saint-Rémy near Arles, France, where Van Gogh was voluntarily a patient.

The works were inspired by the view from the window at the asylum. The painting depicts golden fields of ripe wheat, a dark green cypress towering like a green obelisk, and lighter green olive trees.

The hills and mountains that nearly merge with the white clouds and swirling blue sky. Museum:  National Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic

Vincent van Gogh

Self-Portrait Mutilated Ear

“Self-portrait ‘Mutilated Ear'” by Vincent van Gogh shows Van Gogh after a confrontation with Gauguin in which with a razor, Van Gogh in a rage severed part of his left ear.

Van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions, and he often neglected his physical health and drank heavily. The exact sequence of events that led to Van Gogh’s mutilation of his ear is not known.

This self-portrait shows his mutilated ear, and following this incident, his friendship with Gauguin ended, and he spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

After he discharged himself and moved nearer to Paris, and came under the care of the homeopathic doctor. His depression continued, and in 1890, Van Gogh was shot in the chest with a revolver. He died from his injuries two days later. Museum:  National Museum of Art, Architecture, and Design – Norway

Vincent Willem van Gogh

The Raising of Lazarus

Rembrandt’s paintings have influenced many successive painters. Including Van Gogh, who also painted a picture called “The Raising of Lazarus (after Rembrandt),” based on a print of the Rembrandt image.

Van Gogh depiction left out the central figure of Christ with his arm raised he focused on the human suffering and identified with Lazarus in the tomb.

Lazarus, in the Van Gogh painting below, has a red beard, just like Van Gogh. Prints from other masters inspired Van Gogh during his stay at the hospital in Saint-Rémy, and he made his version of the Raising of Lazarus from an etching by Rembrandt.

With his ginger beard, Lazarus bears some resemblance to Van Gogh himself. The painter may have seen a parallel between Lazarus’ return from the dead and his struggle from mental illness towards recovery. Museums:     Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Vincent van Gogh

Café Terrace at Night

“Café Terrace at Night” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the terrace of the café on the Place du Forum in Arles, France, in the night.

The night is painted with no black in the sky. It features only a blue sky with Van Gogh’s unique star motifs. The Cafe is illuminated with sulfur pale yellow and citron green.

Van Gogh painted the view looking south towards the lit terrace of the famous coffee house.

He contrasted the brightly lit Cafe with the darkness of the rue du Palais, which led up to the wall of buildings and towards the tower of a former church, which is now Musée Lapidaire.

On the right, Van Gogh painted the light from the shop windows as well and some green branches of the trees surrounding the place. Museum: Kröller-Müller Museum

“Café Terrace at Night” by Vincent van Gogh

Tarascon Stagecoach

“Tarascon Stagecoach” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the courtyard of the inn at Arles with two stagecoaches. The composition shows the influence of the Japanese prints that van Gogh loved.

The bold composition has a non-Western perspective with brightly colored carriages of green, red, wheels yellow, black, blue, orange.

The short shadows and the closed shutters of the inn indicate that it is early afternoon and siesta time. Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo stating that the subject of this painting was suggested by Alphonse Daudet’s novel Tartarin de Tarascon, published in 1872.

In the novel, an old stagecoach from Provence was used in the French colonies in North Africa, reminisces about its glory days on the Tarascon–Nîmes route. This painting is a sentimental expression for the old ways of Provence that were quickly disappearing. Museum: Princeton University Art Museum

A Virtual Tour of Vincent van Gogh

Wheatfield with Crows

“Wheatfield with Crows” by Vincent van Gogh depicts a dramatic, cloudy sky filled with crows over a windswept wheat field.

The sense of isolation in the painting is heightened by the path, in contrasting colors of red and green, leading nowhere. Also, the flight path and direction of the crows are uncertain, adding to the uneasy.

Van Gogh painted this windblown wheat field in July 1890, during the last few weeks of his life. Many have claimed it as his final painting and perhaps one of his greatest works. Museum:           Van Gogh Museum

Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour

Bedroom in Arles

“Bedroom in Arles” by Vincent van Gogh describes three similar paintings by the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter created between 1888 – 1889.

Van Gogh’s title for this composition was simply “The Bedroom.” There are three versions, easily distinguishable from one another by the pictures on the wall to the right.

Van Gogh depicted his bedroom at 2, Place Lamartine in Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône, France, known as the Yellow House. Museum: Van Gogh Museum; Art Institute of Chicago; Musée d’Orsay

Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour

Portrait of the Artist’s Mother

“Portrait of the Artist’s Mother” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the artist’s mother, Anna Carbentus van Gogh, drawn from a black-and-white photograph.

Van Gogh was introduced to art through his mother, who was herself an amateur artist. After years of strained relations with family members, Van Gogh excitedly shared some of his works he thought his mother would appreciate most, of flowers and natural settings.

In this painting, Van Gogh captures his mother as a proud middle-class woman against a green background. Museum:            Norton Simon Museum

Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour

Vase with Red Poppies

“Vase with Red Poppies” by Vincent van Gogh depicts one of the artist’s favorite subjects. Flowers were the subject of many of van Gogh’s paintings in Paris, and one of his many interests and fascinations.

Van Gogh wrote to his brother:  “You will see that by making a habit of looking at Japanese pictures, you will come to love to make up bouquets and do things with flowers all the more.”

Van Gogh advised his sister, Wil, to cultivate her garden to find joy and meaning in life. His paintings of sunflowers in vases are among his most well-known flower paintings. After he left Paris, van Gogh painted his second group of Sunflowers in Arles.

Vincent van Gogh made this painting of red poppies in Paris in 1886, where his friends sent bouquets weekly for his still-life paintings. Museum:         Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour

Memory of the Garden at Etten

“Memory of the Garden at Etten” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the artist’s mother and sister. The garden refers to the parsonage garden at Etten, now Etten-Leur, in the Netherlands, where Vincent’s father, a pastor, had been appointed.

Vincent’s father, Theodorus van Gogh, had been assigned to Etten as a pastor. Vincent spent periods there, notably from Easter to Christmas 1881, when he returned to join his brother Theo, an art dealer.

This period at Etten represents the beginning of Vincent’s ten-year career as an artist. He had returned to Etten intending to set up a studio there.

However, that summer, Vincent became obsessed with his recently widowed cousin Kee Vos-Stricker, who had been invited to stay over the summer with her eight-year-old son Jan.

Vincent and Kee started taking pleasant walks together, and Vincent developed tender and romantic feelings.

Within the fortnight Vincent proposed marriage. She famously rebuffed him and quickly left for Amsterdam and never wanting to deal with him again. Museum: Hermitage Museum

Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour

Great Peacock Moth

“Great Peacock Moth” by Vincent van Gogh is part of a series of paintings made between 1889 and 1890 of at least four paintings of butterflies and one of a moth.

Van Gogh was fascinated by the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly, which was symbolic of Van Gogh’s belief in people’s capability for transformation.

Van Gogh preferred the color of the butterflies and found the moths generally duller in color, but the great peacock moth caught his attention.

Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour

“Farmhouse in Provence” by Vincent van Gogh

“Farmhouse in Provence” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the entrance gate to a farm with haystacks beyond the gate and with the farmhouse in the background.

When Van Gogh arrived in Arles in February 1888, the landscape was covered with snow, but it was the sun that he enjoyed in Provence. And this painting captures the brilliant light that he sought.

Van Gogh simplified the forms and reduced the scene to the flat patterns he admired in Japanese woodblock prints. Arles, he said, was: “the Japan of the South.”

Van Gogh used pairs of complementary or contrasting, colors which together intensified the brilliance and intensity of one another’s colors.

Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour

Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin

“Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin” by Vincent van Gogh depicts a woman smoking a cigarette while having a glass of beer. Agostina Segatori was the owner of the Café du Tambourin, and she knew Van Gogh.

Agostina Segatori is wearing a fashionable hat, and her jacket is a different design than her dress, which was the fashion of that time. 

Her parasol sits on one of the seats next to her, and she is having her second glass of beer, as evidenced by two saucers under the mug of beer. Her clothing, make-up, hairstyle, her cigarette and drink all mark her as a modern woman.

Vincent van Gogh Virtual Tour

Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries

“Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries” was painted in June 1888, when Van Gogh went to the fishing village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Vincent van Gogh created several “Fishing Boat and Seascape” paintings and drawings at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in 1888.

When he lived in Arles, he took a 30-mile stagecoach trip to the sea-side fishing village where he made several paintings and drawings of the seascape and town.

Vincent van Gogh Virtual Tour

Vincent van Gogh Virtual Tour

Seascape at Saintes-Maries

“Seascape at Saintes-Maries” by Vincent van Gogh shows the artist’s fascination with the variable color of the sea. His composition emphasized the boat’s fragility against the stormy water.

This painting captures visually the following quote by Van Gogh: “The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

Van Gogh stayed in Saint-Marie, for five days, and he executed three oil paintings and nine drawings. His emotional experience is best embodied in this picture, which is written in paint, by replicating his windy views of the sea.


Vincent van Gogh Virtual Tour

Vincent van Gogh Virtual Tour

Girl in White and Young Peasant Woman with Straw Hat Sitting in the Wheat

“Girl in White” by Vincent van Gogh depicts a young woman wearing a large yellow hat with a knot of sky-blue ribbons standing against a background of a green wheat field.

Vincent van Gogh created this painting in 1890 in Auvers-Sur-Oise, France, during the last months of his life. 

Van Gogh has used the picture’s elongated plane to dramatic effect by having the woman fill most of the pictorial space, making her appear closer to the viewer.

Van Gogh shadowed her face and gave her a distant gaze, which endows her with a touching emotional distance.

Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour
Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour

Van Gogh’s Chair

“Van Gogh’s Chair” by Vincent van Gogh shows a rustic wooden chair, with a simple woven straw seat, on a tiled floor. On the chair seat are a pipe and a pouch of pipe tobacco.

This composition of a simple chair set on a bare floor of terracotta tiles became one of Van Gogh’s most iconic and recognizable images.

Van Gogh created this painting in late 1888, and soon after, his fellow artist, Paul Gauguin, joined him in Arles in the south of France.

Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour

Gauguin’s Chair

“Gauguin’s Chair” by Vincent van Gogh is one of a pair of chair paintings. The other chair was Vincent’s chair with his pipe, and they were to be hung together, with one chair turned to the right, the other to the left facing each other.

Van Gogh’s chair is functional and straightforward; Gauguin’s is an elegant and finely carved armchair. The paintings of the chairs can be viewed as surrogate portraits, representing the personalities and artistic outlooks of the two artists.

Van Gogh’s chair, on which he placed his pipe and tobacco, is shown in bright daylight. Gauguin’s, with two novels on its seat, was painted at night and is illuminated by a candle and gaslight.

Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour

Road with Cypress and Star

“Road with Cypress and Star” by Vincent van Gogh is the last painting he made in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France.

This view is not an actual landscape scene but a composition of the symbols or images that became important to Van Gogh and which expressed his feeling at this point in his life.

The large cypress tree in the middle of the composition acts like a giant obelisk dividing the piece. The pair of travelers are on their journey of companionship that Van Gogh had been seeking for so long and could not find. There are also two people in the horse-driven cart.

Van Gogh entered the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum, a former monastery in Saint-Rémy in May 1889. Van Gogh had two cells with barred windows, one of which he used as a studio.

He was allowed short supervised walks, during which time he painted cypresses and olive trees, including this painting “Road with Cypress and Star.” Some of his works from this time are characterized by swirling stars in the night sky, such as this painting and “The Starry Night.”

Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour

Almond Blossoms

“Almond Blossoms” by Vincent van Gogh is a composition that is unlike any other in Van Gogh’s paintings. The branches of the almond tree seem to float against the blue sky and fill the composition.

This cropped view of the almond branches with dark lines outlines brings to mind the whole almond tree. Van Gogh, much admired this quality in Japanese floral studies in which they depict a portion of the flowering in space, seemed to represent the whole.

Van Gogh used the term Japonaiserie to express this influence. He had collected hundreds of Japanese prints, and Van Gogh integrated some of the technical aspects of ukiyo-e into his work.

This painting’s bright color is reflective of the pictures he made in Arles and the transformational influence that Van Gogh had on the still life genre. These works reflect the impact of Impressionism and Japanese woodcuts.

A Virtual Tour of Vincent van Gogh

The Church at Auvers

“The Church at Auvers” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the church in Auvers-Sur-Oise, a village in the outskirts of Paris. It was built in the 13th century in the early Gothic style and is flanked by two Romanesque chapels.

Van Gogh’s depiction of the church makes it seem as if it is on the verge of dislocating itself from the ground. The two paths seem to be clasping the church to the ground.

The painting does not so much offer a faithful image of reality but a form of “expression” of the church.

The foreground is brightly lit by the sun, but the church itself sits in its own shadow. The motif of diverging paths also appears in his painting “Wheat Field with Crows.”

A Virtual Tour of Vincent van Gogh

The Yellow House

“The Yellow House” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the building and surrounds where Van Gogh rented four rooms in May 1888. 

Van Gogh rented two large rooms on the ground floor, one which served as his workshop and the other as the kitchen.

He also occupied two smaller rooms on the first floor, which acted as bedrooms facing Place Lamartine.

The window on the first floor near the corner with both shutters open is that of Van Gogh’s guest room, where Paul Gauguin lived for nine weeks from late October 1888.

Virtual Tour of Vincent van Gogh

Portrait of Père Tanguy

“Portrait of Père Tanguy” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the paint grinder who sold art supplies and was an art dealer. He was one of the first to offer Van Gogh’s paintings for sale.

Père Tanguy’s cheerful demeanor and enthusiasm for art and artists made his shop one of the most favored art supply shops in Paris, and he was nicknamed Père (“Father”) Tanguy.

This brightly colored painting represents a shift in Vincent’s attitude and style. Van Gogh called his use of bright colors, “his gymnastics,” as he experimented with creating great depth and harmony in his artwork.

The background is covered with Van Gogh’s favorite Japanese prints that were sold at Tanguy’s shop. Gogh’s favorite Japanese prints included images of Mount Fuji, Kabuki actors, and cherry trees in bloom.

Virtual Tour of Vincent van Gogh

Portrait of Doctor Félix Rey

“Portrait of Doctor Félix Rey” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the trainee doctor at Arles Hospital, where Van Gogh was taken for treatment of his mental illness. 

After cutting off part of his left ear in December 1888, Vincent van Gogh was taken to the hospital of Arles and placed in the care of Doctor Felix Rey. Dr. Rey was a 23-year-old intern at the time. 

This portrait is distinguished by its bright color, flatness, and the absence of modeling. The decorative background of the wallpaper with orange ornamental curls on green presents the doctor in a non-clinical setting.

Doctor Félix Rey is presented with a full face and a carefully and neatly trimmed beard with an elegantly curved mustache. He is presented sympathetically in his fashionable blue jacket, orange buttons, a striped tie, and a green vest.

Vincent van Gogh - A Virtual Tour

Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background

“Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background” by Vincent van Gogh depicts green olive trees twisting and swirling as if reflecting the radiating heat from the ground on a hot day in June 1889 in southern France.

The olive grove is capped by the rolling blue hills of the distant Alps, beneath a light-washed sky with bundled clouds engaged in their own twisting dance of nature.

The Chaîne des Alpilles in the background of this painting is a small range of low mountains in Provence, southern France. The landscape of the Alpilles is one of the arid limestone peaks separated by dry valleys.

Vincent van Gogh painted many images of the Alpilles’ landscapes during his time in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence on the north side of the mountains.

The Red Vineyard

“The Red Vineyard” by Vincent van Gogh depicts workers in a vineyard, and it is the only painting van Gogh sold during his lifetime. Van Gogh uniquely captured the mellowed tones and glistening light of the evening sun reflecting in the river and the autumn fields.

This painting was painted two weeks after Gauguin arrived in Arles and moved in with Van Gogh. Van Gogh was excited by his idea of starting an artists’ colony. He was keen to share his studio with Gauguin.

The two artists had met two years previously, and Van Gogh was in awe of Gauguin. The relationship, however, ended in disaster culminating in Van Gogh’s self-mutilation. 

However, before this incident, the two artists worked on similar projects, and Gauguin influenced Van Gogh’s paintings of this time. Gauguin’s colorful works inspired Van Gogh to use more colors for this painting, which he continued to do in his later works.

Van Gogh brightened his palette, experimented even more with shorter brushstrokes, impasto, and complementary colors.

View of Vessenots Near Auvers

“View of Vessenots Near Auvers” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the landscape of ‘Les Vessenots,’ on the outskirts of Auvers. Van Gogh shows a village of country cottages with thatched roofs placed just below a raised horizon in the background.

In the foreground, wheat fields dominate the composition with swaying trees on the borders. The bright greens and yellows applied with thick brushstrokes follow a repetitive, undulating rhythm, which was characteristic of van Gogh’s final works.

Van Gogh painted many landscapes in the weeks before his death; he was always working outdoors. The expanses of fertile fields gave him a sense of freedom, but at the same time, he felt melancholy and loneliness.

Van Gogh painted his landscapes from life, but he shows us a personal view and creates a new and unique visual form for his impressions of what he sees.

In May 1890, Vincent van Gogh traveled to a small village thirty-five kilometers north of Paris where Doctor Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, the physician, and art collector, lived. 

Theo van Gogh, the artist’s brother, had entrusted the care of his brother to the doctor at the recommendation of Camille Pissarro. 

Portrait of Camille Roulin

“Portrait of Camille Roulin” by Vincent van Gogh is a portrait of the youngest son of the postman Joseph Roulin, a friend of Van Gogh’s. When his portrait was painted, Camille was eleven years of age.

The Roulin Family all had their portraits painted by Vincent van Gogh in Arles between 1888 and 1889. The family consisted of Joseph, his wife Augustine, and their three children: Armand, Camille, and Marcelle.

Although Van Gogh loved to paint portraits, it was difficult for financial reasons for him to find models. So, finding an entire family that agreed to sit for multiple paintings was a bonus.

Joseph Roulin became a good and supportive friend to Van Gogh during his stay in Arles. Van Gogh truly admired Joseph and went to great lengths to capture his character.

Vincent van Gogh

  • Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands
  • Initially, van Gogh planned to be a pastor and worked as a lay preacher in Belgium. It was only on being let go from this job that he decided that his future lay in painting.
  • Van Gogh didn’t start painting until he was 27 years old.
  • Van Gogh never received any formal art training.
  • Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, worked in an art gallery and introduced van Gogh to many artworks.
  • Van Gogh visited many parts of Europe, including the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and England.
  • Japanese woodblock prints profoundly influenced Van Gogh. He collected pictures of Japanese woodblock prints, and he practiced making copies.
  • Van Gogh had several close relationships with many fellow artists, including Paul Gaugin and Emile Bernard.
  • Van Gogh’s artistic career was only ten years.
  • Van Gogh was a prolific letter writer, especially to his brother.
  • He created over 900 paintings plus many more drawings and sketches.
  • He died at the age of 37
  • As a poor artist, van Gogh didn’t have money to pay for models, so he painted himself instead. He created hundreds of self-portraits.
  • Van Gogh considered himself and many of his paintings to be failures.
  • Van Gogh cut off his ear in 1888.
  • Experts believe that that Gaugin cut off Van Gogh’s ear, following a violent dispute. However, they both conspired to blame it on van Gogh so that Gaugin would not be jailed.
  • Van Gogh wrapped up his removed ear and gave it to a prostitute in a nearby brothel.
  • Van Gogh suffered mental health challenges for many years, and in 1889 he voluntarily admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy.
  • Van Gogh spent a year in the hospital, from which he created some of his most well-known paintings.
  • Van Gogh spent his adult life in poverty, surviving on cheap food. His diet consisted mainly of bread and coffee; he drank alcohol excessively and always had his pipe in hand.
  • After leaving the asylum, Van Gogh’s mental health continued to deteriorate, and in 1890, he shot himself in the chest. He died two days later.
  • There is speculation that Van Gogh did not shoot himself but that he was shot in a prank that went wrong. Van Gogh protected the identity of who shot him, by claiming that he shot himself.
  • Only 37 years old when he died, he had just sold one painting in his lifetime.
  • On his deathbed, van Gogh’s last words to his brother were, “the sadness will last forever.”
  • Van Gogh’s brother died very soon after Van Gogh’s death.

Vincent van Gogh and Japanese Art

These portraits of the Postman Joseph Roulin by Vincent van Gogh reflected his deep interest in Japanese prints.

Van Gogh discovered Japanese Art in magazine illustrations of artwork created by woodblock prints using Japanese techniques that depicted Japanese life.

In 1885, van Gogh started collecting “ukiyo-e” prints that he bought in small Parisian shops.

Van Gogh shared these prints with his contemporaries and organized a Japanese print exhibition in Paris in 1887.

One version of Van Gogh’s Portrait of Pere Tanguy (1887) featured a backdrop of Japanese prints.

Japanese woodblock prints inspired him, and in his works, he reflected the vibrancy of color and light that he observed in Japanese woodblock prints.

Vincent van Gogh

  • Name:                 Vincent Willem van Gogh
  • Born:                   1853 – Zundert, Netherlands
  • Died:                   1890 (aged 37) – Auvers-Sur-Oise, France
  • Resting place:     Cimetière d’Auvers-Sur-Oise, Auvers-Sur-Oise, France
  • Nationality:         Dutch
  • Movement:         Post-Impressionism

Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise, the Last Works, and the Artist’s Reputation

Explore the Artists and their Art

Vincent van Gogh Quotes

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”


“Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.”


“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”


“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”


“If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”


“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke.”


“For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”


“I don’t know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream.”


“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.”


“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.”


“I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”


“The beginning is perhaps more difficult than anything else, but keep heart, it will turn out all right.”


“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”


“Painting is a faith, and it imposes the duty to disregard public opinion.”


“I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.”


“A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.”


“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.”


“Poetry surrounds us everywhere, but putting it on paper is, alas, not so easy as looking at it.”


“I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.”


Vincent Van Gogh: The Humble Genius

The life story of Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh: A collection of paintings

Loving Vincent


“The best way to know God is to love many things.”
– Vincent van Gogh


Photo Credit: 1) Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

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