“...step through famed artworks such as 'The Starry Night' and 'Sunflowers'...”



Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 in Zundert, a small town in a largely agricultural region in the south of the Netherlands. The son of a Protestant pastor, Vincent became aware from an early age of the divide between his own middle class upbringing and the poverty-stricken lives of the local laborers and peasants.


After leaving school in 1869 at the age of 16, Vincent began work at Goupil et Cie, an art dealership in which his uncle was a partner. Vincent became increasingly involved with the commercial side of the art world, organizing exhibitions, selling original and reproduced artworks – and seeing the prices that they were fetching. During his six years at Goupil et Cie, Vincent was exposed to a wide range of paintings both at home and in London and Paris, planting the seed for an enduring passion for painting. He was particularly fond of the work of Jean-François Millet and other realism painters from the Barbizon School.


Vincent’s early twenties were a time of great uncertainty as he tried to define a career path for himself. In 1876, he was terminated from Goupil et Cie when unrequited love left him depressed and slightly erratic. Over the following four years, Vincent made an unsuccessful attempt at theological studies then briefly served as a missionary. Once again he was dismissed, this time as a result of his overzealous approach to his duties. In 1880, at the age of 27, Vincent finally turned to art. Inspired by the Impressionism and Post-Impressionism movements of the 19th Century and heavily influenced by artists of the time such as Monet, Pissarro, Bernard and Gauguin, Van Gogh appeared to have finally found his calling. The urgency and intensity of his work is imbued in many of his paintings.


Completely self-taught, Van Gogh was one of the most prolific artists of his time. In only ten years, he produced more than 2,000 works of art, consisting of around 930 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches. Despite this great volume of work, The Red Vineyard is the only piece known to have sold during his lifetime. Anna Boch, a prolific collector of Impressionist paintings, purchased it during the Brussels Art Expo in 1890. She paid 400 francs, the equivalent of US $1,900 today.


Van Gogh’s artworks now sell for millions of dollars at auctions and private sales around the world. Portrait of Doctor Gachet brought one of the highest prices ever paid for a painting. Ensuring it remained in private hands, Siegfried Kramarsky, a German born New York philanthropist and owner of the Lisser & Rosenkrantz Bank, sold it to Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito on 15 May 1990 for US $82.5 million.


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