Vincent van Gogh is known as one of the world’s best-known artists, but he was also a tortured soul and had an unusual and interesting life. He died at only thirty-seven years of age and never saw the impact of his legacy during his lifetime. Vincent van Gogh’s paintings are now some of the most expensive in the world. However, he only ever sold one painting during his lifetime. Here are some of the lesser-known interesting facts about Vincent van Gogh.
Nine Hundred Paintings in Ten Years
Vincent van Gogh only started painting at age twenty-seven. He didn’t show any particular artistic talent during his childhood and youth, and unsuccessfully pursued different careers, before becoming a painter. Once he started drawing and painting, he quickly developed into a masterful artist with a highly personal style. Over the final ten years of his life, he created an incredible body of work, including nine hundred paintings and probably more than one thousand drawings.
Seizures and Mental Illness
It is reasonably well known that Vincent van Gogh suffered from mental illness for much of his life. He also suffered from sometimes quite severe seizures, during one of which, he cut off one of his ears. It is not known, what illness exactly he suffered from, as it was never diagnosed during his lifetime. From the symptoms he presented, modern psychiatrists would possibly diagnose temporal lobe epilepsy, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, hypergraphia, syphilis or a combination of these.
“Starry Night” was Painted in an Asylum
After cutting off his own ear during a quarrel with Gauguin, van Gogh admitted himself into an asylum. While he was there, he continued creating his art. He spent his days looking through the barred windows and painted the landscape below at different times of day over several days. He captured the changes of light and weather. The result was his most famous work “Starry Night”. Vincent himself thought that this painting, as well as others he created during his time in the asylum, was a failure.
Poverty and Unhealthy Lifestyle
Vincent van Gogh came from a privileged background, but he lived in poverty for most of his adult life. Although his brother Theo supported him financially, Vincent spent all his money on art materials and lived on bread and coffee. He drank excessively and liked to smoke a pipe. At some point, he told his brother that he had only had six hot meals in a year. By the time he was thirty-three, his health had deteriorated significantly, and he was regularly sick.
Mystery Surrounding His Death
The accepted story is that Vincent van Gogh died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but some believe that he didn’t fire the shot himself. Although the bullet didn’t damage any internal organs and was removed, the wound became infected, and Vincent died two days after the shooting.