Please note that the chronology below is by no means exhaustive. It is simply meant to give a brief overview of some of the more significant events in the life of Vincent van Gogh.
|1853||Vincent van Gogh is born on 30 March in the small village of Groot-Zundert, Holland to Theodorus van Gogh (1822-1885) and Anna Cornelia née Carbentus (1819-1907).|
|1857||Vincent's brother, Theo, is born on 1 May.|
|1862||While still living in Zundert, Vincent attempts his first drawings.|
|1864||Vincent begins schooling in Zevenbergen and studies French, English and German.|
|1869||After finishing his schooling, Vincent is apprenticed to Goupil & Cie, art dealers from Paris with a branch established in The Hague by his uncle Vincent (Uncle "Cent"). Vincent makes frequent visits to the museums of The Hague.|
|1872||Vincent spends a good deal of time with his brother, Theo. They begin a lifelong correspondence which today offers the best means of studying Vincent's opinions, feelings and state of mind.|
|1873||Vincent is transferred to the London branch of Goupil & Cie. He visits the museums and galleries and expands his knowledge of art. Vincent stays in a boarding house run by Mrs. Ursula Loyer. For decades it's been thought that Vincent was in love with Mrs. Loyer's, daughter, Eugenie. Recent evidence, however, suggests that Vincent was, in fact, in love with Caroline Haanebeek--a friend of the Van Gogh family living back in The Netherlands. Vincent's feelings are unreciprocated.|
|1874||Vincent shows little interest in his position at Goupil & Cie and eventually transferred to the Paris branch. By the end of the year, however, he returns to London.|
|1875||Vincent's performance at Goupil & Cie deteriorates while, at the same time, his devotion to his bible studies reach an obsessive level.|
|1876||After resigning his position in the early spring, Vincent journeys to Ramsgate, England where he takes a post at a small boarding school. Later in the year Vincent takes a new job as a teacher and curate with Reverend T. Slade Jones, a Methodist minister. On October 29 Vincent delivers his first Sunday sermon. As Vincent's religious fervour increase, his physical and mental state take a downturn.|
|1877||Vincent leaves England and takes a temporary job in a bookshop in Dordrecht. As with his Goupil & Cie position, Vincent shows little interest and behaves abrasively toward his colleagues and clients. Vincent then pursues religious studies in Amsterdam.|
|1878||Vincent's formal religious studies come to an end, but, determined to pursue a religious vocation, Vincent travels to the Borinage, a coal-mining district in Belgium. The conditions for both Vincent and the miners is extremely bad (look to some of Vincent's etchings from the period for an idea as to the bleakness and oppressively dismal atmosphere). Vincent reads from the bible to the miners and lives in complete poverty.|
|1879||His work at the Borinage
continues. Vincent devotes all of his energy toward helping the miners--giving them clothes and food he can
ill afford himself. His religious enthusiasm and drive to help the impoverished miners eventually attracts the attention of his superiors who feel that Vincent's behaviour is too extreme. Vincent is soon relieved of his position in the Borinage and subsequently suffers depression at what he perceives to be a failed effort.
Vincent then moves on to Cuesmes to continue similar work helping the miners. It is at this time, however, that his religious devotion begins to wane and his interest in painting is renewed.
|1880||A turning point in Vincent's life. Vincent abandons his religious pursuits and devotes himself exclusively to painting the miners and poverty-stricken weavers. Theo begins to financially support Vincent, a situation that would continue until the end of Vincent's life. Later in the year, Vincent undertakes some formal studies of anatomy and perspective at the Academy in Brussels.|
|1881||Vincent visits Theo in Etten and, later in the year, has his advances rejected by his cousin Cornelia Adriana Vos-Stricker (known as Kee). Vincent is devastated by this rejection, but throughout the period also follows his artistic pursuits. He spends time with the painter, Anton Mauve (1838-1888) who first introduces Vincent to watercolors. The situation with Kee causes Vincent's mental state to once again deteriorate and his relationship with his father also begins to crumble.|
|1882||Vincent meets Clasina Maria Hoornik (known as Sien) and they move in together. Sien is a prostitute with a five year old daughter and is pregnant with another child. While continuing his studies and painting with some acquaintances (painters Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch and George Hendrik Breitner), Vincent's physical state again deteriorates and he is hospitalized for three weeks for gonorrhoea. Upon his release Vincent begins to experiment with oils and spends much time painting nature as well as using Sien and her newborn child as models.|
|1883||After more than a year together, Vincent ends his relationship with Sien and pursues a life devoted exclusively to his work. He travels to Drenthe in northern Holland and paints the bleak landscape as well as the peasant workers. Later in the year, Vincent moves to Nuenen to stay with his parents. He sets up a small studio to work and continues to rely on Theo for support.|
|1884||While continuing with his work, Vincent begins a relationship with a neighbour's daughter, Margot Begemann. Both families are opposed to their plan to marry and, in despair, Margot attempts to poison herself. Vincent is extremely distressed as this relationship ends, but continues his work and strikes up a friendship with Anton C. Kerssemakers (1846-1926), a tanner and art enthusiast. They spend much time together, discussing art and visiting museums.|
|1885||After the death of his father in March, Vincent continues with his work and, in early spring, paints what many consider to be his first great work, The Potato Eaters. Vincent expands his experiments to include a greater variety of colours and becomes extremely interested in Japanese woodcuts.|
|1886||Wishing to continue with some more formal education in the arts, Vincent
submits some of his works to the Antwerp Academy and is put in a beginner's class. As
expected, Vincent doesn't fit in well with the Academy and leaves. Later in the year Vincent moves to Paris and
lives with Theo.
After arriving in Paris Vincent begins studies with Cormon (1845-1924) at his atelier. It is not so much the training that influences Vincent, but rather his introduction to his fellow students: John Russell (1858-1931), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) and Emile Bernard (1868-1941). Later in the year, Theo, who is working for Boussod & Valadon managing an art gallery in Montmartre, introduces Vincent to the works of the Impressionists: Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas and Georges Seurat. Their work has a profound influence on Vincent and his use of colour. Later in the year, Vincent becomes friends with painter, Paul Gauguin, a turbulent relationship that would later prove to be another turning point in Vincent's (and Gauguin's) life.
|1887||Throughout the year, Vincent continues his work in Paris. He frequents cafes with other painters and argues about art with Bernard and Gauguin. Over the course of the year, Vincent experiments with some different styles, including Japonaiseries and pointillism.|
|1888||A pivotal point in Van Gogh's
life. Vincent leaves Paris in February and moves to Arles in the south. At first the bad,
winter weather prevents Vincent from working, but once spring arrives Vincent begins
painting the flowering Provence landscapes. Vincent eventually moves into the "Yellow
House", a dwelling he has rented where he will paint, and from which he hopes to
establish an artists' community. Vincent is extremely productive during this period when
he paints a number of seaside landscapes (in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer) as well as many of
his most famous portraits (including his series of the postman, Joseph Roulin, and his
Throughout the year, Vincent continues to paint some of his best work. He anxiously awaits the arrival of his friend, Paul Gauguin, who he dreams of helping him to set up the artists' community. Gauguin finally arrives in October and moves in with Vincent in his "Yellow House" This proves to be an extremely rewarding and productive time for Vincent and Gauguin, though a tense and often turbulent one in which they would endlessly argue about art. As the weather worsens, so too does their relationship, which is finally destroyed on 23 December when Vincent is supposed to have attacked Gauguin with a razor. Immediately after the failed attack, Vincent loses all reason and cuts off his left earlobe. He then wraps it in newspaper and presents it to a prostitute at the local brothel he frequented. He is then hospitalized and shortly afterward Theo arrives from Paris to make arrangements for Vincent's care.
|1889||Vincent begins to improve in
the new year and leaves the hospital in Arles on 7 January. During the early part of the year,
Vincent's mental state fluctuates wildly. At times he is completely calm and coherent; at
others he suffers from hallucinations and delusions. Vincent continues to work
sporadically from his "Yellow House", but the increasing frequency of his mental
breakdowns prompt him, with Theo's help, to enter the Saint Paul-de-Mausole mental asylum
The year progresses with varying recoveries and lapses in Vincent's mental state. When able, Vincent continues his paintings of landscapes (his famous series of olive groves and cypresses) from the asylum, but is forced to stop when his attacks (in which he tries to poison himself by swallowing his own paints) return. Since these attacks often occur while Vincent is outdoors, he confines himself indoors and begins to do a series paintings based on the works of other artists he admires (specifically Millet and Delacroix).
Ironically, as Vincent's mental state steadily deteriorates throughout the course of the year, his work is finally beginning to receive recognition in the art community. His Starry Night over the Rhone and Irises are exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in September and in November he is invited to exhibit six of his works by Octave Maus (1856-1919), secretary of the Belgian artist group, Les XX.
Vincent begins to work out of doors once again, but the year concludes with one of his worst attacks, in which he again tries to poison himself, and he is once more incapacitated.
|1890||1890 begins much like the
previous year with Vincent making various recoveries and breakdowns. As before, he
continues to work when he can and, as his life draws to a close, his works gain more and
more recognition. On 31 January Theo's wife, Jo, gives birth to a son who they name
Vincent Willem. After a serious attack in February lasting two months, it's decided that
Vincent should move closer to Theo and be put under the care of Dr. Paul Gachet. Vincent
takes a drastic turn for the better during the course of this move and arrives in Paris
looking fit and well (in fact, even more fit than his brother who had been suffering from
ill health for years). In May Vincent moves to Auvers-sur-Oise, just north-west of Paris and,
while under the care of Dr. Gachet, begins to paint with incredible energy, producing more
than 80 paintings in the last two months remaining to him.
June: Vincent continues to produce some of his best work and his mental and physical health improve drastically. Dr. Gachet feels that Vincent has made a complete recovery, and Vincent spends a great deal of time with Theo, Jo and his new nephew. To many, it would appear that Vincent was finally happy.
July: As conditions for Vincent improved, they took a turn for the worse for Theo, who was experiencing financial difficulties and who was troubled at his new son's ill health. Vincent visits Theo on 6 July and is devastated at the state of Theo's condition. Vincent continues to work in the weeks to follow, but his mental state finally plummets, perhaps owing to his regarding himself as a burden to Theo and his family and for being responsible for their poor financial state and troubles. On 27 July Vincent goes for a walk and shoots himself in the chest with a pistol. He manages to stagger home late in the evening, but tells no one of his condition. The wounded Vincent is eventually found in his lodgings and a doctor is summoned. The bullet cannot be removed and Theo is called for.
Vincent's last hours are much like the last two years of his life--varying from complete mental anguish to seeming contentment. After attempting suicide, Vincent spends the little time he has left sitting up in bed and smoking a pipe, all the while with Theo at his side. Near the end, Theo climbs into bed with Vincent and cradles his head in his arms. Vincent says: "I wish I could pass away like this."
Vincent dies early the next morning on 29 July. The funeral takes place shortly thereafter and his coffin is covered with dozens of sunflowers, which he loved so much.
|1891||Theo never recovers from the death of his beloved brother and his health takes a turn for the worse. He dies on 25 January at Utrecht.|
|1914||Theo's body is exhumed and he is buried in a grave next to Vincent in Auvers-sur-Oise.|
|1960||The Vincent van Gogh Foundation is created, with a board consisting of V.W. van Gogh, his second wife, and his three children, and an official representing the Dutch government. The Foundation was established to preserve those works of Vincent van Gogh which were part of the family holdings and to eventually house them in a museum built specifically for the vast collection.|
|1962||The Vincent van Gogh Foundation purchases the collection of art works from V.W. van Gogh with the full cooperation and agreement of the Van Gogh family. The Dutch parliament passed a bill approving the proposal and on 21 July the official agreement was signed between the state and the Vincent van Gogh Foundation.|
|1973||The Van Gogh Museum is opened on June 2. The museum holds hundreds of Vincent's works as well as a huge archive containing letters and documents.|
|1990||30 March - 29 July:
On the centenary of Vincent's death, The Van Gogh Museum mounts a retrospective exhibit
including more than 120 paintings.
15 May: Vincent van Gogh only sold one painting, The Red Vineyard, but on this date The Portrait of Dr. Gachet is sold in auction at Christie's for $82.5 million, the highest price ever paid for a painting.
14 November: Vincent's pen-and-ink rendering, Garden with Flowers sells in a Christie's auction for $8.36 million, making it the highest price ever paid for a drawing.
|Countless works continue to be published about Vincent van Gogh, and the new technologies such as the World Wide Web and interactive CD-ROMs bring the story of Vincent's life and works to a new generation of enthusiasts.|
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