How ambitious was Van Gogh?

      31-12-2021     Comments (0)

Vincent van Gogh gave everything he had to succeed. Van Gogh’s ambition in combination with his creative talent, his intense and sensitive mind made him focus to produce about 900 paintings, 1100 drawings and 9 lithographs in just 10 years. And he probably sold just one painting. That came with a price. He wrote: "I have lost my soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process.” In December 1882 Van Gogh created a lithograph of a man with a pipe and bandaged eye. If only he knew that 6 years later he would paint himself resembling that poor man. Today 139 years ago, on 31 December 1882, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo from The Hague: "My dear Theo, It’s New Year’s Eve and I feel so much like having another word with you. When I wrote my last...

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Who was Van Gogh’s Woman with Red Ribbon?

      28-12-2021     Comments (0)

The Woman with Red Ribbon or Lady with Red Hair Band worked in a cafe chantant in Antwerp. She could be a prostitute. Vincent van Gogh wondered why these cafes didn’t want portraits of women on their walls since people went there to see women dancing and singing. Van Gogh gave the painting to Emile Bernard who he met in Paris in 1886. It was auctioned in at Christie’s in London in 2019 and is now part of a private collection. Today 136 years ago, on 28 December 1885, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo from Antwerp: "When the model came to me, she’d evidently had a few busy nights — she said something that was entirely typical — for my part, champagne doesn’t cheer me up, it makes me very sad. Then I knew what to do, and I tried to get something...

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What made it difficult for Van Gogh to paint the Alpilles?

      24-12-2021     Comments (0)

The Mistral wind made it very difficult to paint the The Chaîne des Alpilles: a small range of low mountains in Provence. “’s enjoyable to work in really wild sites where you have to bury your easel in the stones so that the wind doesn’t send everything flying to the ground." Today 132 years ago, on or about 24 December 1889, Vincent van Gogh wrote to his mother from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence: "At the moment I’m working on a painting of a path between the mountains and a small stream that works its way between the stones. The rocks are solid lilac grey or pink, with bushes here and there: box and a sort of broom, that have all sorts of colours, green, yellow, red, brown, because of the autumn. And the stream in the foreground white and foaming like...

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When did Van Gogh cut off his ear?

      23-12-2021     Comments (0)

Today 133 years ago, on the evening of 23 December 1888, Van Gogh suffered an acute mental breakdown. As a result he cut off his left ear and took it to a prostitute in a local brothel. The police found him at home the next morning and had him admitted to hospital. On 24 December Gauguin sent a telegram to Theo, who immediately took the night train to Arles. 10 days later, on 2 January 1889, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo from Arles: “My dear Theo, In order to reassure you completely on my account I’m writing you these few words in the office of Mr Rey, the house physician, whom you saw yourself. I’ll stay here at the hospital for another few days — then I dare plan to return home very calmly. Now I ask just one thing of you, not to worry, for that would cause...

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Why did Theo van Gogh send the Bedroom painting back to Vincent?

      22-12-2021     Comments (0)

Vincent van Gogh was actually very happy with the painting of his bedroom in Arles . After the ear accident Van Gogh was in the hospital in Arles and therefore he could not stop the flooding river Rhône from damaging the painting. Gauguin had already left The Yellow House then and moved from Arles to Paris. Vincent sent the painting to Theo in Paris anyway, but Theo sent it back asking Vincent to copy it because of the damage. Vincent’s copy, the second version of the Bedroom, pleased Theo even more. In summer Van Gogh made a third version . Today 132 years ago, on 22 December 1889, Theo van Gogh wrote to Vincent van Gogh from Paris: "My dear Vincent, I’ve safely received your consignment of the Wheatfield and the two Bedrooms. Above all I like the last...

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Who was Van Gogh’s favorite model in The Hague?

      21-12-2021     Comments (0)

Vincent van Gogh made many drawings of Adrianus Jacobus Zuyderland when he lived in The Hague. Vincent’s model was a pensioner and war veteran with emotional expressions that interested Van Gogh. Van Gogh’s famous Worn Out / At Eternity’s Gate also portrayed Mr Zuyderland. Today 139 years ago, on or about 21 December 1882, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo from The Hague: "So I’m now occupied with two large heads of an orphan man, with his white beard and old-fashioned, old top hat. This chap has the sort of old, lively face that one would wish for beside a cosy Christmas fire.” Orphan man with top hat The Hague, 1882 Charcoal and crayon on cream wove paper 40 x 24.5 cm Worcester Art Museum, Worcester,...

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Did the mistral wind bother Van Gogh?

      20-12-2021     Comments (0)

The strong and cold Mistral wind bothered Vincent van Gogh a lot when he lived in the Provence. The Mistral made it impossible to paint most of the time, despite Van Gogh trying to attach his easel to the ground. Vincent often decided to just wait or to make a drawing instead. Until the moment the sun was to set. The Mistral would die down and the colors became magical. Just what Vincent needed to create a masterpiece. Today 132 years ago, on or about 20 December 1889, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence: "I shake your hand warmly in thought, I’m going to work some more outside, the mistral’s blowing. It usually dies down by the time the sun’s about to set, then there are superb effects of pale citron skies, and desolate pines cast...

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Do Van Gogh’s thick brushstrokes illustrate his stress?

      19-12-2021     Comments (0)

Vincent van Gogh’s thick brushstrokes (impasto) was one of his painting techniques to express his emotions. At stressful times he was inclined to use heavier impasto. His restless mind could even make him squeeze the paint from the tube directly to his canvas. Today 132 years ago, on or about 19 December 1889, Vincent van Gogh to Theo from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence: "I’ll probably do 2 or three repetitions of it, for in fact it’s the result of a half-dozen studies of olive trees. I think it likely that I’ll do hardly any more things in impasto, it’s the result of the calm life of seclusion I’m leading, and I feel I’m better for it. Fundamentally I’m not as violent as that, anyway I feel more myself in calmness.” These...

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Who inspired Van Gogh to paint cows?

      18-12-2021     Comments (0)

Vincent van Gogh painted ‘Cows’ in 1890 based on a 1873 Paul van Ryssel etching that Gachet owned of Jacob Jordaens's 'Study of Five Cows’. 1,5 years before Van Gogh saw the 1648 painting 'Cows in the pasture’ by Paulus Potter in the Musée Fabre in Montpellier. Today 133 years ago, on 17 or 18 December 1888, Vincent van Gogh to Theo from Arles: "My dear Theo, Yesterday Gauguin and I went to Montpellier to see the museum there, and especially the Bruyas room — there are many portraits of Bruyas, by Delacroix, by Ricard, by Courbet, by Cabanel, by Couture, by Verdier, by Tassaert, by others too. After that there are paintings by Delacroix, Courbet, Giotto, Paul Potter, Botticelli, T. Rousseau, very fine.” Cows...

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Is Het Steen another missing Van Gogh painting?

      17-12-2021     Comments (0)

Two drawings of Het Steen Castle on the Scheldt in Antwerp have survived. But Vincent van Gogh clearly wrote to his brother Theo that he had painted The Steen. It must be a finished painting as Vincent showed it to art dealers. Where is it? Missing and gone forever? Or will it pop up one day? Hopefully it ends up exhibited in a museum in that case. Today 136 years ago, on 17 December 1885, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo from Antwerp: "My dear Theo, Today, for the first time, I feel rather dejected — I’d made a painting of Het Steen and took it round the dealers. Two of them were out, and one didn’t like it, and one lamented in a dreadful manner that literally no one had set foot in his shop in a fortnight. This isn’t very cheering, particularly when the...

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To whom did Van Gogh give his Pink Peach Tree?

      16-12-2021     Comments (0)

Vincent van Gogh signed his painting 'Pink Peach Tree in Blossom’ with Souvenir de Mauve. In The Hague in 1881 his cousin Anton Mauve taught Vincent to paint with oils. When Mauve died 7 years later Van Gogh dedicated his colorful Pink Peach Trees to Mauve and sent the painting to Mauve’s widow Jet. Today 138 years ago, on or about 16 December 1883, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo from Nuenen: "My dear Theo, Mauve said to me at the time, ‘you’ll find yourself if you keep on working at art, if you go into it more deeply than you have done so far’. He said that 2 years ago. I think a lot about those words of his these days.” Pink Peach Tree in Blossom (Souvenir de Mauve) Arles, 1888 Oil on canvas...

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How was it for Van Gogh to move back in with his parents in Nuenen?

      15-12-2021     Comments (0)

Vincent van Gogh and his father had an argument over Christmas in Etten in 1881. Vincent left for The Hague to Anton Mauve and he didn’t see his parents for two years. In the meantime his parents moved into the vicarage in Nuenen and only in December 1883 Vincent moved from Drenthe to live with his parents in Nuenen. Living with his parents didn’t feel particularly pleasant.. Today 138 years ago, on or about 15 December 1883, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo from Nuenen: “Dear brother, I feel what Pa and Ma instinctively think about me (I don’t say reasonably). There’s a similar reluctance about taking me into the house as there would be about having a large, shaggy dog in the house. He’ll come into the room with wet paws — and then, he’s...

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Did Victor Hugo inspire Van Gogh?

      14-12-2021     Comments (2)

Victor-Marie Hugo (1802 - 1885) was a French romantic poet, novelist, essayist and playwright. Vincent van Gogh was a big fan and he mentioned Victor Hugo many times in his letters to Theo. Maybe Victor Hugo’s famous novel 'Les Misérables' on social injustice inspired Van Gogh to paint the coarse life of peasants in ‘The Potato eaters’. Maybe it motivated Van Gogh to convey emotions through his art unlike the impressionists. It must have been special for Vincent to paint a portrait of an old man that resembled Victor Hugo, his literary hero. Today 136 years ago, on 14 December 1885, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo from Antwerp: "My dear Theo, Just wanted to write and tell you that I’ve pressed ahead with models. I’ve made two fairly...

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When did Van Gogh and Gauguin clash?

      11-12-2021     Comments (0)

It was already before the ear accident on 23 December 1888 that Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin clashed. Gauguin came to Arles on 23 October 1888 and moved into The Yellow House that Van Gogh had set up as Studio of The South. Gauguin left on 25 December, but two weeks before he had already made up his mind. The two characters clashed and Gauguin was determined to leave Arles and move back to Paris. It wouldn’t get much better between the two artists after that. Today 133 years ago, on or about 11 December 1888, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo from Arles: "My dear Theo, ...I myself think that Gauguin had become a little disheartened by the good town of Arles, by the little yellow house where we work, and above all by me. Indeed, there are bound to be grave difficulties...

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How did Theo van Gogh die in 1891?

      10-12-2021     Comments (0)

Vincent van Gogh's younger brother Theo is often regarded as the Vincent’s strong and successful brother who supported the troubled artist. It was actually Vincent who was often worried about Theo’s health. Jo Bonger, Theo’s wife, met Vincent once, in Paris a few months before he died and she was surprised that Vincent came across much stronger than Theo. Theo died half a year after Vincent of dementia paralytica, a disease of the brain, supposedly caused by "heredity, chronic disease, overwork, sadness". Today 132 years ago, on 9 or 10 December 1889, Vincent van Gogh wrote to his sister Willemien from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence: "You will receive soon, I think, the canvases I promised you. What I find very unfortunate is that you write that Jo...

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Where did Van Gogh order his canvas?

      09-12-2021     Comments (0)

When Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles and Saint-Rémy he ordered rolls of canvas at Tasset et L’Hôte in Paris. They were size 2 x 5 meters and 2 x 10 meters and Vincent cut the rolls to French sizes. His famous masterpieces of Vases with Sunflowers were size 30, which he would call large size, around 92 x 73 cm. By examining weaving patterns of the canvas of existing paintings, the Van Gogh Museum can determine which paintings came from a certain roll of canvas. In combination with information in Van Gogh’s letters this could lead to the dates of creation of the paintings. And.. perhaps of missing paintings from the same roll. Today 132 years ago, on 9 or 10 December 1889, Vincent van Gogh wrote to his sister Willemien from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence:...

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Did Van Gogh frame his paintings?

      08-12-2021     Comments (0)

Vincent van Gogh sent his paintings mostly unframed by train from the South of France to his brother in Paris. Quite regularly Vincent had suggestions, or rather directions for framing to Theo. He had done some framing himself as well, for example for the paintings in Gauguin’s room in The Yellow House, like The Sunflowers, The Green Vineyard, Ploughed Fields and the Unknown version of Poet's Garden. Today 132 years ago, on 8 December 1889, Theo van Gogh wrote to Vincent from Paris: "Lately Tanguy has been exhibiting a lot of your canvases, he told me that he hopes to sell the Bench with the ivy. It’s a fine choice you’ve made for Brussels. I’ve ordered frames. For the Sunflowers I’m leaving the little wooden edge that’s around it, and a...

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What kind of trees did Van Gogh paint?

      07-12-2021     Comments (0)

Vincent van Gogh loved trees . He painted the cypress, willow, peach tree, almond tree, pine tree, poplar, plane tree, plum tree, pollard, birch, blue fir, oak and mulberry tree. Did we miss any? Please let us know. Today 132 years ago, on 7 December 1889, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo van Gogh from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence: "Among the studies you’ll find the following, which are for our mother and sister. Olive trees – Bedroom – Reaper – Working with plough – Wheatfield with cypresses – Orchard in blossom – Portrait. The remainder is above all autumn studies and I think the best one is the yellow mulberry tree against a very blue sky.” The Mulberry Tree Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, 1889 Oil on...

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Did Van Gogh paint the wharf in Amsterdam twice?

      06-12-2021     Comments (0)

Vincent van Gogh painted the wharf at 'De Ruyterkade in Amsterdam' on 6, 7 or 8 October 1885 when he was in Amsterdam to visit the Rijksmuseum. But two months later he wrote to his brother about is intention to paint the wharf. If he painted the wharf again, this painting is missing. Perhaps lost forever, or some day will be be someone’s lucky day.. Today 136 years ago, on 6 December 1885, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo van Gogh from Antwerp: "At a fourth I can exhibit a view of the wharf as soon as the weather allows me to paint it..” We do not know whether this plan was ever carried out. The notion that the intended work turned out to be this panel, as was long assumed on Tralbaut’s instigation, has proved to be incorrect (Tralbaut 1948): the panel is...

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Who taught Van Gogh to paint?

      02-12-2021     Comments (0)

Vincent van Gogh had already made drawings and watercolors when it was his cousin-in-law Anton Mauve in The Hague in 1881 who taught Van Gogh to paint with oils. His first painting of his 10 year career was 'Still Life with Cabbage and Clogs’. When Mauve died in 1888, Vincent painted Pink Peach Trees , signed with Souvenir de Mauve. Today 140 years ago, between 1 and 3 December 1881, Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo from The Hague: "I spoke to Mauve and said, would you approve if I were to come and trouble you for a good month or so – then when that time is up I’ll be past the first petty vexations of painting and will go back to Het Heike. Well, Mauve immediately installed me in front of a still life consisting of a couple of old clogs and other objects,...

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