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Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)

"I dream of painting and then I paint my dream."

-Vincent Van Gogh

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"He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him."

(Deut 32:10-12)


Born on March 30, 1853 in Groot-Zundert, a village in southern Belgium, Vincent Willem Van Gogh was the oldest son of Reverend Theodorus Van Gogh and Anna Cornelia Carbentus, the daughter of a book seller. He was named for his two grandfathers. Vincent's family consisted of his three sisters Elisabeth, Anna, Wil, two brothers Theo and Cor, and his mother and father. His earliest years were spent as a quiet child with little or no attention spent on art or artistic qualities. He attended the Zundert village school from 1860, where the single Catholic teacher taught around 200 pupils.

From 1861, he and his sister Anna were taught at home by a governess, until 1 October 1864, when he went away to the elementary boarding school of Jan Provily in Zevenbergen, the Netherlands, about 20 miles away. He was distressed to leave his family home, and recalled this even in adulthood. On 15 September 1866, he went to the new middle school, Willem II College in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Constantijn C. Huysmans, a successful artist in Paris, taught Van Gogh to draw at the school.

His religious emotion grew to the point where he felt he had found his true vocation in life, and he returned to England to do unpaid work, first as a supply teacher in a small boarding school overlooking the harbour in Ramsgate; he made some sketches of the view. The proprietor of the school relocated to Isleworth, Middlesex. Vincent decided to walk to the new location. This new position did not work out, and Vincent became a nearby Methodist minister's assistant in wanting to "preach the gospel everywhere". In an effort to support his wish to become a pastor, his family sent him to Amsterdam in May 1877 where he lived with his uncle Jan van Gogh, a rear admiral in the navy.Erickson page 23 Vincent prepared for university, studying for the theology entrance exam with his uncle Johannes Stricker, a respected theologian who published the first "Life of Jesus" available in the Netherlands.

ETTEN (1881)

In April 1881, Van Gogh went to live in the countryside with his parents in Etten in the Netherlands, where he continued to draw, using the neighbours as his subjects. Through the summer he spent much time walking and talking with his recently widowed cousin, Kee Vos-Stricker. She was tthe daughter of his mother's older sister and Johannes Stricker who had shown warmth towards the artist. Kee was seven years older than Van Gogh and had an eight-year-old son. He proposed marriage, but she refused with the words, "No, never, never" (niet, nooit, nimmer).

Late that November, he wrote a strongly worded letter to his uncle Stricker, and then hurried to Amsterdam where he again spoke with Stricker on several occasions. Kee refused to see him again and her parents wrote, "Your persistence is disgusting". Kee's father made it clear that there was no question of marriage [34] given Van Gogh's inability to support himself financially. Stricker had earlier tutored Vincent in biblical criticism in his attempt to gain entrance to a university to study theology, and had shown real warmth towards his nephew. The house where Van Gogh stayed in Cuesmes in 1880; it was while living here that he decided to become an artist.

The red-haired Vincent has been described by some as a "self-taught" artist, who taught himself how to paint and draw. But from his numerous writings, he would be better termed a "prophetic artist," because God involved Himself in the art of Vincent, and from a youth Van Gogh's focus was to be the servant of the Lord and to know God. Van Gogh admired the work of Jean François Millet and Honoré Daumier, and his early subjects were primarily peasants depicted in dark colors. He understood that art could be a calling.

The Old Testament contains numerous examples of the way in which God's anointing rested upon godly men, such as the artist-craftsman Bezeleel.

Gogh was selling others’ art by the time he was sixteen years old because all his three uncles were involved in dealing with the fine arts. One of his uncles who worked for the famous French art dealers, Goupil and Company in Hague, was able to get Gogh employed as an apprentice in 1869. His brother, Theo started working at Goupil’s Brussels office in 1872. Gogh was promoted to the London offices of Goupil in 1873. While working at Goupils, and Cie, God spoke to Van Gogh through the artwork of men like Jean-Francois Millet, and Jules Breton. In Nuenen, Vincent began painting in the style of Millet. Millet, whom Van Gogh looked on as a mentor, was a prolific artist himself, whose works total some 700 paintings, 3000 pastels and drawings.

Van Gogh once felt compelled to visit the home of the French painter Jules Breton. With just 10 francs in his pocket he walked the entire distance of 70 kilometers to Courriès, France, to visit Breton. Upon arriving, however, Vincent was too timid to knock and returned to Cuesmes greatly discouraged. A painting of Van Gogh?s in oil, entitled "Open Bible" (1885) depicts his respect for the Bible and of Christ the Redeemer. Open Bible shows a large gold-leafed Bible open to Isaiah 53. This work may have been painted as a memorial of Van Gogh?s father, who died a few months before.


Our greatest glory consists not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall." (Vincent Van Gogh)

Vincent Van Gogh's advice that "Our greatest glory consists not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall," echoes that of God's word:

"Rejoice not against me O mine enemy, though I fall, I shall rise." (Micah 7:8)

Vincent Van Gogh worked in his youth at various jobs, art dealer for the French firm of Goupil and Cie in the Hague, language teacher in London, a book seller in Dordrecht, and then spent some 5 years labouring as a minister, and later in January 1879 working as a salaried missionary evangelist to the mining district in the village of Petit Wasmes, in the Borinage of southern Belgium, where he even preached down in the mines. The Borinage is an area in the Belgian province of Hainaut. The provincial capital Mons is located in the east of the Borinage. The area is best known for its former coal mining industry. The living conditions of the miners were featured in the famous documentary film Misère au Borinage (1933) made by Henri Storck and Joris Ivens. In his mid-twenties, the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh spent several years living there, ca. 1878-1880, preaching to and living with the coal miners. During this period he started to produce charcoal sketches.

Thus, a few days ago, the miners returning home in the evening towards dusk in the white snow were a singular sight. These people are quite black when they emerge into the daylight from the dark mines, looking jut like chimney sweeps. Their dwellings are usually small and should really be called huts; they lie scattered along the sunken roads, in the woods and on the slopes of the hills. Here and there one can still see moss-covered roofs, and in the evening a friendly light shines through the small-paned windows. Much as we have coppices and shrubby oaks in Brabant and pollard willows in Holland, so one sees blackthorn hedges around the gardens, fields and meadows here. Lately, with the snow, the effect is that of black lettering on white paper, like pages of the Gospel.

The miner's talk is not very easy to make out, but they understand ordinary French well, provided it is spoken quickly and fluently enough, for then it automatically sounds like their patois, which comes out with amazing speed. At a meeting this week, my text was Acts 16 9, "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us." And they listened attentively when I tried to describe what the Macedonian was like who needed and longed for the comfort of the Gospel and for knowledge of the Only True God. That we should think of him as a workman, with lines of sorrow and suffering and fatigue on his countenance, without pomp or glory but with an immortal soul and needing the food that does not perish, namely God's word, because man liveth not by bread alone, but by all the words that flow from God's mouth.

Vincent wrote to his brother Theo: I have already spoken several times here, both in a fairly large room especially designed for religious meetings and also at the meetings they usually hold in the evenings in the workmen's cottages, and which may best be called Bible classes. Among other things, I have spoken on the parable of the mustard seed, the barren fig tree and the man born blind. On Christmas, of course, on the stable in Bethlehem and Peace on earth. If, with God's blessing, I were to get a permanent position here, I should welcome that with all my heart. Everywhere round here one sees the large chimneys and the tremendous mountains of coal at the entrance to the mines, the so-called charbonnages. You know that large drawing by Bosboom, "Chaudfontaine" – it gives a good impression of the countryside in these parts, except that here everything is coal while to the north of Hainaut there are stone quarries and in Chaudfontaine they have iron.


Vincent Van Gogh identified himself to a large extent with the fate of the miners, gave away his own clothing, living among them as they lived. This behavior was at odds with the behaviour expected of "the proper clergymen" of his day. In July 1879 van Gogh was informed that his contract would not be renewed. Although van Gogh was successful in his ministry, the hierarchy of the Dutch Reformed Church rejected him, and at the end of 1879 he left the church. Van Gogh remained in the Borinage however, in spite of the fact that the church withdrew its support of him as a minister. He began his artistic career by making drawings of the simple life of the Belgian peasants. In September 1881 he sought the professional advice of Anton Mauve, a respected artist working in The Hague who was related to Van Gogh through marriage, and he was very pleased with Mauve's response. Van Gogh said in a letter to his brother Theo that he had seen many beautiful things in Mauve's studio and that his own drawings had seemed to interest Mauve quite a bit. Van Gogh was Mauve’s wife’s cousin and he spent a period of time working with him from 1881 to 1882. Mauve and Van Gogh both grew up the sons of ministers. Mauve was born in Zaandam into the family of a Baptist preacher, who was sent to Haarlem a year after Anton's birth. Anton Rudolf Mauve (18 September 1838 – 5 February 1888) was a Dutch realist painter who was a leading member of the Hague School. The Hague School, late 19th Century, Holland, an influential movement of Dutch painters who worked in The Hague, between 1860 and 1900, portraying realistic depictions of local landscapes, fisherman and farmers in the style of Realism. At the age of 16, he left for Haarlem where he was apprenticed to the artist Pieter Frederik van Os a specialist in cattle from 1854-1857, followed by Wouterus Verschuur who painted horses. Together with Paul Gabriel, ten years his senior, he would often go into the countryside to paint directly from nature. Mauve was the close friend of painter, Jozef Israels, who depicted the lives of country people and fishermen, sometimes against the background of a dune landscape.

Van Gogh decided to leave La Haye to join his cousin by marriage, the painter Anton Muave. Mauve’s influence on the young Van Gogh is evident in his painting technique and his choice of subjects. It was Mauve who first put a paintbrush in Van Gogh's hand, instructing him in the techniques of watercolor and oils. Van Gogh gained confidence under Mauve, confiding to brother Theo that "some power to draw-and I think to paint also-is in me." But he didn't continue in this field. This doesn't mean he was a failure. Many young people gain experience in more than one field, and move on, growing in and through their experience. We all have expectations which aren't met in our time frame, and God must teach us a healthy dependance upon Himself, or we can become smug and self-sufficient.

Van Gogh met Clasina Maria Hoornik (Sien), a seamstress and charwoman who became his model. He met Sien towards the end of January, when she had a five-year-old daughter and was pregnant, and paid her to model for him. In 1883, Van Gogh left, returning to reside at his father's new parish at Neuen. Twenty years later Sien was found dead, having committed suicide by drowning herself in the river Scheldt. His brother Theo, who had continued to correspond, enabled Vincent to go to Paris to study under Cormon.

In January, 1884 Vincent's mother injured her leg and Vincent returned to Nuenen to help her during her convalescence. During that time she received frequent visits from Margot Begemann a childhood friend, and the youngest daughter of the family that lived next door. She was ten years older than him, and frequently accompanied the him on his painting forays. Vincent and Margot's relationship deepened to the point that they considered marriage. But neither of their families were supportive of the relationship. Margot tried to kill herself with strychnine and Van Gogh rushed her to the hospital. In a letter to Theo, Vincent wrote the following lines:

"Something terrible has happened, Theo, which hardly anybody here knows, or suspects, or may ever know, so for heaven's sake keep it to yourself. To tell you everything, I should have to write a book – I can't do it. Margot Begemann took poison in a moment of despair after she had had a discussion with her family and they slandered her and me; she became so upset that she did it (in a moment of decided mania, I think)."

Theo, I had already consulted with a doctor once about certain symptoms of hers; three days before I had secretly warned her brother that I was afraid she would get brain fever, and that I was sorry to state that, in my eyes, the Begemann family acted extremely imprudently in speaking to her the way they did. This had no effect, at least no other than that they told me to wait two years, which I decidedly refused to do, saying that if there was a question of marriage, it had to be very soon or not at all. )."

The Reverend Van Gogh informed Theo shortly afterwards: "It’s said that the relationship has been broken off, but the friendship will continue. They still correspond constantly." On March 26, 1885, Van Gogh's father died of a stroke. Van Gogh grieved deeply.

"To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour." -William blake

Jesus said: "He who believes on Me, as the scriptures have said, "out of his belly (innermost being) shall flow rivers of living water. This spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on Him shall receive."

The Christian artist paints God's creation. Men and women look into those heavens which declare the glory of God. The artist is a second witness by which the Word of the Lord is confirmed, for we can define who the Creator is, to the seeker, when we know the Lord and who He is.

Van Gogh, understanding this, did not paint only biblical stories as his subjects, though sometimes he did, in such paintings as "The Good Samaritan," or "the Pieta." He painted God's creation, as he saw it through the eyes of a man who had been a student of the bible. Sometimes he painted in symbol. He examplifies the discipline of a Christian disciple, painting in one 12 month period, one hundred-eighty nine paintings, of blue skies, orchards, wheatfields, cafes, flowers, and peoples faces, including self-portraits of his own. Vincent Van Gogh is described by those who knew him as a serious person, who was well-liked by the farmers in the village of Etten.


"Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit."

It was Vincent's foremost desire to become a minister. His father and grandfather were prominent Dutch Reformed pastors. Vincent respected their work, but wanted more of God's Spirit. He knew it was there for the taking too. In Vincent Van Gogh's own words, but using biblical terminology, he states that his desire was for the "old wine" of his traditional Calvinist roots.

"It is my fervent prayer and desire that the spirit of my father and grandfather may rest upon me, and that it may be given me to become a Christian and a Christian labourer and that my life may resemble more and more the lives of those named above, for behold, the old wine is good, and I do not desire a new one. (Letter 89) Oh that I may be shown the way to devote my life more fully to the service of God and the Gospel. I keep praying for it and in all humility I think I shall be heard."

What does "religious conformity," or any conformity in our lives bring? Why do some young people derive safety in peer pressure, and frequently emmulate one another rather, even when in their hearts they know it's wrong? Young people raised in church understand the new birth, and the Spirit filled life. They are free to enjoy the tradition of family worshipping together. People crave acceptance, and can become complient, feeling this is obedience to God's divine will. Only the scriptures can be the test of what's authenticly the will of the Lord, and God's leading in their individual lives.

But how often it is God Himself who is responsible for "breaking the mold" as they say when He creates this one or that.

The "new wine" which the bible teaches, wasn't part of the theology Vincent Van Gogh's denomination had traditionally had an encounter with. But his soul was to crave such an encounter all his life, and he sought in various ways to fill this intense longing.

During the time in which Vincent worked among the impoverished people of the Borinage, he produced pictures of the poor in the mining district there. They worked in the coal mines, and life was hard. The colors in Vincent's first paintings were dark and dreary, not unlike the lives of many of those he painted. Some families were so poor they existed solely on potatoes. His best known masterpiece of this period is known as "The Potato Eaters." His artwork brightened their lives and brought a smile to their faces. God used it to open their hearts to the gospel.


My own love for art evolved from my experiences as a foster child. I walked in the soft dark soil behind Daddy Frank's tiller. As he toiled in the setting sun, I planted my own small feet in the imprints made by his big leather work shoes. I didn't feel overshadowed by him, nor dwarfed by his stature, but I deeply respected the man. His wife Dorothy taught me the names of the flowers and herbs, and we harvested them together. Towering majesticly though that vast expanse of blue sky was a green forest of corn stalks with silken tassels, that had grown from seed corn.

There was an acre of flowers to wander through, some of which grew as large as a dinner plate. I was given my own little plot of ground, to prepare, plant and care for, and God taught me what the bible teaches us, that there is a glory of this and a different glory of that. My mother loved impressionist paintings. Violets were one of her favorite flowers, and she taught me to love the small bouquets of them in Spring. But sunflowers differ from violets. No painter who is a shrinking violet will probably ever earn much of a living. In this, I see God leading the artist out of that place of hibernation, or isolation, that so many artists are prone to retreat to, into the world where he or she must confront their fears. This is also the life of the artist who would also be God's minister and the evangelist.


It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Deut 8:3b)

Throughout the Israelites wanderings in the wilderness, God placed them in a series of difficult situations to test their hearts. He wanted opportunity to prove them. He provided for them so they would grow in faith, and depend to a greater extent upon him as God. In the plains of Moab, where Moses gave his second sermon, he said: "Remember all the way which Jehovah thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble thee, to prove thee, to know what was in thy heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or not" (Deut. 8:2).

Selling the art work which we produce as artists is not always as successful as Dwight L. Moody selling shoes in his youth. Our art is created in the very furnace of affliction, and for this reason there will be pieces which are as tremendously difficult to part with, as a mother or father looking over her brood and deciding which one to part with. But the life of the eagle shows us that birds must learn to fly, and as the mother bird eventually must push those fledglings out of the nest, we have to get that artwork out of our studio, and into a market, for the sake of paying rent and buying groceries.

In all this, we grow in faith. We know that God who gave us our gift, and inspires our art, will, like the story of the widow woman with the empty cruse of oil that was miraculously not only filled, but replentished, will refill our capacity and enable us to shine as lights in this world for Christ. We learn to be less materialistic, and this is a lesson in spirituality. The artists work is his livlihood. But in this, we as artists must learn to pray over each piece, that God will lead us, and that we will serve that good and perfect will of God, in all that we say and do. In spring 1886 Vincent van Gogh went to Paris, where he moved in with his brother Theo; they shared a house on Montmartre.


And in my picture I want to say something consoling, as music does. I want to paint men and women with a touch of the eternal, whose symbol was once the halo, which we try to convey by the very radiance and vibrancy of our coloring . . . . Ah, portraiture, portraiture, with the mind, the soul --that is what really come, it seems to me. (September 3, 1888)

He became increasingly interested in religion; in 1876 Goupil dismissed him for lack of motivation. He has sent me to preach the Gospel to the poor, declared Vincent van Gogh to his brother, Theo, in a letter dated 1876. Van Gogh not only wanted to see men saved. He wanted his paintings to comfort or console as music does. This is a biblical concept, to comfort others with the comfort by which we ourselves have been comforted. (2 Cor. 1:4) We see in this quotation by Vincent, the very heart of God for mankind, shining through the painter, in this desire to comfort mankind with God's compassion. From early on, he'd wanted to be used of God to join men and women to God as a minister of reconciliation. But as Vincent knew too well, men and women don't all have halos. For glory to fill the soul so that it radiates, there must be a transforming work within the heart, called salvation. God does not want us to give false comfort to sinners, by misrepresenting the truth of the gospel message. Mankind has is an eternal destiny, but according to individual choice, heaven or hell are in view. The journey into Gods presence is not an irreconcilable fate, but a decisive journey which God desires will ultimately to lead man to heaven.

One of the most powerful scriptures concerning Christ's glory in the life of the believer is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, "Therefore, if any man be in Christ (born again) he is a new creature: old things are passed away (gone); behold all things (not some things) are become new. All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given us ministry of reconciliation." Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is arisen upon thee. Darkness shall cover the land and gross darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."--Isa. 60:1-3. He became a teaching assistant in Ramsgate near London, then returned to Amsterdam to study theology in 1877.


Theo Van Gogh' relationship with his brother was one of the things which allowed Vincent Van Gogh to develope as an artist. Vincent lived with Theo in Paris for a time in 1886 and from March of that year they shared a house in Montmartre. In Paris, Theo met Andries Bonger and his sister Johanna, whom he married in Amsterdam on April 17, 1889. The couple lived in Paris, where on January 31, 1890 their son Vincent Willem was born. On June 8, the family visited Vincent, who was living near Paris in Auvers-sur-Oise. The significance of this time with his brothers was immeasurable. In addition, Theo's position as an art dealer, provided him with many business contacts in the art world. Theo introduced Vincent to a lot of painters while they lived in Paris. He also paid for his brother's food, lodging, art supplies, and health care, when he moved.

In a letter written two years before he died, Vincent thanked Theo for sending him another 50 francs. In the letter Vincent states:

"It's my constant hope that I am not working for myself alone. I believe in the absolute necessity of a new art of colour, of design, and of the artistic life. And if we work in that faith, it seems to me that there is a chance that we do not hope in vain."

As a successful art dealer he was aware of his brother's artistic ability. Theo sold just one of Vincent's paintings, and it was entitled "The Red Vineyard." The story is that "The Red Vineyard," (now in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow) was purchased according to the De la Faille catalogue raisonné ¨1970, page 221) by Miss Anna Boch for 350-400 francs.

Theo valued Vincent's work. Theo, who'd supported his brother by sending him money from his own salary, valued his brother's life work. In the spring of 1886 Van Gogh traveled to Paris where he moved in with his brother Theo, and the two brothers shared a house on Montmartre. Van Gogh met other painters in Paris, and for the first time was influenced by the impressionist style of painting. He liked its use of colour and light. He also became acquanited with the technique called "pointillism," (where many small dots are applied to the canvas, blending into a harmony of rich colors, so that viewed from a from a distance, one sees the painting as a whole.) Life in Paris however was filled with the temptations and compromises that the bible warns of and forbids. His artwork suffered as the result of his self-deception during this time in Paris. Like the proverbial prodigal, Vincent filled himself, till he grew weary of it all.


Eugene Henri Paul Gauguin was born in Paris on June 7, 1848, to a French father, a journalist from Orléans, and a mother of Spanish-Peruvian descent. When Paul was 3 his parents sailed for Peru after the victory of Louis Napoleon; his father died on the way. Gauguin and his mother remained in Lima Peru for 4 years and then returned to Orléans, where he attended a seminary. At the age of seven, Paul and his family returned to France. They moved to Orleans, France to live with his grandfather. When he was seventeen years old he became a sailor and traveled around the world. He spent some time in the Navy, then turned to banking and gained success as a stockbroker's clerk in Paris and remaining in this profession for twelve years. Gauguin was a financially successful stockbroker and self-taught amateur artist when he began collecting works by the impressionists in the 1870s.

In 1873, he married a Danish woman, Mette-Sophie Gad. Over the next ten years, they had five children, Emile, Aline, Clovis, Jean Rene, and Pola. In 1883-84 the bank that employed Gauguin got into financial difficulties and Gauguin began to paint every day. His wife and children moved to Denmark and so began his tumultuous years as an artist. He traveled to Denmark, then lived in Rouen, both times attempting to make a viable life with his family and painting. Creativity was important to Gauguin, “The only to rise toward God is by doing as our Divine master does, create”. He began to show his work, and in 1885 began to paint full-time. From 1886 to 1891 Gauguin lived mainly in a region of rural France known as Brittany where he became associated with an experimental group of painters, the school of Pont-Aven. The painting "The Yellow Christ" is typical for this period. Gauguin used a yellow, wooden statue from a church near Pont-Aven as his model. He depicts Breton women as if they were in the presence of the actual death of Jesus Christ.

He then sailed to Martinique Island in the West Indies and he traveled to the South Seas several times during his years as an artist. Van Gogh's brother Theo, who was Gauguin's art dealer, suggested Gauguin visit his brother Vincent Van Gogh. On the subject of line and drawing, Gauguin said in 1879,

"One must draw and draw again. It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one day you are amazed to discover that you have found the way to render a thing with its own character."

Throughout the late 1890’s and early into the next century, Gauguin was plagued by illness. An ankle he had broken in Brittany did not heal properly, and he suffered from strokes. Concerning drawing, Gauguin said:"Don't make pretty, clever little lines, but be simple and insist on the major lines that count." Gauguin died in 1903 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery (Cimetière Calvaire), Atuona, Hiva ‘Oa, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia. Three years after Gauguin’s death, 227 paintings were exhibited in Paris, and his reputation was established among the progressive artists of the day. Today a painting by Gauguin may sell for as much as $39 million. Gauguin liked working on an absorbent ground as this created a dull, matt effect on the oil paint colours.

Most of his paintings were created with a brush, but there is evidence that he occasionally used a palette knife. From a portable palette found in his painting studio after he died, it would appear Gauguin didn’t put out his colours in any particular order. Nor does he seem to have ever cleaned his palette, instead mixing fresh colours on top of dried-up paint. Typically Gauguin painted outlines of the subject directly onto the canvas in diluted Prussian blue. These were then filled in with opaque colours (rather than building colour up through glazes).


By age 35, Parisian city life lost it's glimmer and Vincent left Paris and moved to Arles, settling in the Bouches-du-Rhein region of France. Impressed with the serenity of the colorful landscape, he hoped to found an art colony there. Van Gogh arrived at the Arles railway station on 21 February, 1888, crossed Place Lamartine and entered the city through the Porte de la Cavalerie. He took quarters a few steps further, at the Hôtel-Restaurant Carrel, 30 Rue Cavalerie. His companion for two months was the Danish artist, Christian Mourier-Petersen.

In February 1888, van Gogh arrived in the town of Arles in southern France, where he dreamed of founding a "Studio of the South." In M Vincent leased four rooms in the two-story building. During this period, living at Arles, he began to use the swirling brush strokes and intense yellows, greens, and blues associated with such typical works as Bedroom at Arles (1888)

Vincent described the cafe in the following words:

"An immense yellow lantern illuminates the terrace, the facade, the side walk and even casts light on the paving stones of the road which take a pinkish violet tone. The gables of the houses, like a fading road below a blue sky studded with stars, are dark blue or violet with a green tree. Here you have a night painting without black, with nothing but beautiful blue and violet and green and in this surrounding the illuminated area colours itself sulfur pale yellow and citron green. It amuses me enormously to paint the night right on the spot. Normally, one draws and paints the painting during the daytime after the sketch. But I like to paint the thing immediately. It is true that in the darkness I can take a blue for a green, a blue lilac for a pink lilac, since it is hard to distinguish the quality of the tone. But it is the only way to get away from our conventional night with poor pale whitish light, while even a simple candle already provides us with the richest of yellows and oranges."

Many consider the time spent at Arles to be Vincent's most creative of his entire career. His best known works were produced during his time here in this provençal town. In Arles, some of Van Gogh's best-loved works were produced. Still in operation today but renamed Café Van Gogh, this is the same Café that Van Gogh painted in The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night. He painted twelve "sunflower" works, seven of which date from his Arles Period. Joseph Roulin was a postal employee in Arles, and Van Gogh painted him for the first time in the summer of 1888.

Van Gogh liked his home at Place Lamartine in Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône, France, known as his Yellow House. The door to the right was opening to the upper floor and the staircase, the door to the left served the guest room he held prepared for Gauguin. The window in the front wall was looking to Place Lamartine and its public gardens. This room was not rectangular, but trapezoid, with an obtuse angle in the left hand corner of the front wall and an acute angle at the right. Van Gogh evidently did not spend much time on this problem, he simply indicated that there was a corner, somehow.

Vincent wrote to his siter the following words: "In a letter to his sister, he described the cheerful building as "a little yellow house with a green door and green blinds, whitewashed inside—on the white walls very brightly colored Japanese prints, red tiles on the floor—the house in the full sunlight—and over it an intensely blue sky…."

Vincent's first studio in the area, proved to be too small, so he worked out of doors most of the time. He found the landscape inspirational, painting trees, vineyards, hills, and local buildings in the area. After a time, he moved to the "yellow house." And as he made friends, local people agreed to sit for him, such as a soldier, the postman in Arles, and others. Van Gogh decorated his "yellow house" and painted his yellow sunflower paintings for this purpose. The atmosphere was restorative. Vincent wrote from Arles:

"I always feel I am a traveler, going somewhere and to some destination."

He painted 200 canvases in a 15 month period, and diligently sent shipments to Theo in Paris, throughout the Spring andSummer monthes. But none of the work sold. While in Arles he began having fainting spells and seizures, and the locals, objections to him caused them to sign a petition because of his presence there.


With the villagers obviously disturbed by his behaviour in Arles, Vincent decided to move to Saint-Remy and voluntarily check himself into an asylum there. The petition had been submitted to the mayor of Arles. Van Gogh purposed to stop in Paris to see Theo, Johanna and to see his first glimpse of the couples newborn son. The Reverend Salle of Arles was engaged to help look for a suitable place for Vincent, and with arrangments made, he was to be given his own room and allowed to paint out doors. He traveled by overnight train to Paris enroute to Saint-Remy, accompanied by Reverend Salles. Vincent made his bedroom at the asylum, his art studio. Vincent arrived in Saint Remy de Provence on May 8, 1889, As an artist, Van Gogh discovered the quality of light and the ardent beauty of the landscapes around Saint Remy condusive to his painting. The beauty of the surroundings and favorable atmosphere, allowed him to complete more than 150 paintings and numerous sketches.

Van Gogh's Saint Remy phase was one of his most important periods of work. Many of his most well-known paintings were derived from this period, including "The Irises, First Steps?, Starry Night, Reaper in a Field of Wheat, Olive Grove in the Evening, and Field of Wheat with Cypress Tree." He left Saint Remy de Provence on May 16, 1890 for Auvers sur Oise. The Olive Trees is an example of the new style of painting Van Gogh developed into while he was in the hospital at Saint-Rémy. Instead of the large, luminous areas of pure uninterrupted color, Van Gogh began using long brush-strokes to create undulating movement across the whole canvas.


In May 1890, following a visit to see Theo, Vincent moved to Auvers north of Paris, where he lived for two months after having agreed with his brother, that it would be best if Vincent lived nearby. Auvers was an artists’ village. He wrote to Theo, stating: “Auvers is very pretty,” and “there is countryside all around, typical and picturesque.”

"I am quite absorbed in the endless sea of wheat fields set against the hills of gentle yellow and delivate green and violet ploughed earth, regularly checkered with potato plants in flower under a sky of blue, white, pink, and violet."

In Auvers Van Gogh painted 90 paintings in 60 days. Some of Van Gogh's paintings during this phase of his life, possess the obvious quality of Japonisme. The term "Japonisme" is a term used to define a French movement involving Japanese art. As a Parisan art dealer, Theo ran a gallery in Montmartre, near a small shop called the Bing Gallery, which sold Japanese prints. Van Gogh had seen Japanese prints for the first time in Answerp several years earlier, and was notably impressed.

Most anyone who's had a beginning art history class knows the story of how the great Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh sliced off part of his left ear during a fit of madness. Now a team of German historians has published a new book arguing that the whole tale is untrue. The story of van Gogh's madness was part of a coverup, the authors say, by none other than van Gogh's friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin. Van Gogh and Gauguin forged a deep friendship during the two years they lived and painted as neighbors in Arles, in the south of France. The two had built the town's reputation as an artistic colony. That dream ended in an angry exchange between the painters on the evening of Dec. 23, 1888. "The traditional version of what happened there is wrong," Hans Kaufmann says.

As that story goes, van Gogh cut off part of his own ear with a straight razor after he and Gauguin parted. But Kaufmann and his colleague, Rita Wildegans, dug through original police records, biographical material and van Gogh's letters. They concluded that Gauguin, an accomplished fencer, attacked van Gogh with a rapier after van Gogh threw a wine glass at him. In the first letter that Vincent van Gogh wrote after the incident, he told Gauguin, "I will keep quiet about this and so will you." That apparently was the beginning of the "pact of silence." Years later, Gauguin wrote a letter to another friend and in a reference about van Gogh he said, "A man with sealed lips, I cannot complain about him." Van Gogh died at age 37. Gauguin died in 1903 at age 54.

"The traditional version goes back on two reports," says Kaufmann. "Self-defending or self-protecting propaganda of Paul Gauguin, who himself stressed that Vincent van Gogh was mad, which is not true. [Van Gogh] suffered from these fits, which came [all] of a sudden and which ended suddenly."


In the beginning of his painting career, Van Gogh used earth colors such as raw umber, raw sienna, and olive green. These were very suited the miners, weavers, and peasant farm laborers who were his subjects. Japonisme influenced his technique of silouetting his subjects. In 1885 Vincent saw Japanese prints for the first time in Antwerp. His painting of "Starry Night" expresses the Japanese influence. In the winter of 1885-1886 Van Gogh attended the art academy of Antwerp, Belgium. This proved a disappointment as he was dismissed after a few months by his Professor. Van Gogh did however get in touch with Japanese art during this period, which he started to collect eagerly. He admired its bright colors, use of canvas space and the role lines played in the picture.

The development of new paint colours and his exposure to the impressionists and Japanese prints influenced his color choices and the outlining in dark paint, and filling these in with areas of thick color, which is characteristic of his work.

The Bridge in the Rain illustrates Van Gogh’s interest in Japanese art. For two centuries, Japan discouraged trade with the rest of the world. In the 1850s, however, the country opened its ports to foreign vessels and Western commercial interests. Japanese prints, lacquerware, and porcelains flooded into Europe, creating a craze for furniture and crafts of Japanese design. Japonism (in French Japonisme) is the term defining the relationship between the arts of Japan and Western civilisation. Japonaiserie marks a lower level of this meeting of civilisations, the direct transfer of principles of Japanese art on Western, primarily by French artists. Works originating from this source are corectly called japonesque.

His appreciation for Japanese art to collecting prompted him to travel by rail to visit his artist friends Louis Anquetin (1861-1932) and Emile Bernard (1868-1941). He painted the background of his portrait of Pierre Tanguy with Japanese symbols. "The Bridge After The Rain" was painted following an inspiration made upon him by a woodcut by Utagawa Hiroshige, that he had in his own collection. Vincent keeps balls of wool with threads in different hues-red and orange, blue and yellow, orange and gray-to sample and test the effect of different color combinations. Vincent's later palette typically consisted of the following colours. 1) Chrome lemon 2) Chrome yellow light 3)Chrome yellow medium 4) Vandyck brown 5) Orange 6) Chrome orange 7) Reds 8) Geranium 9) Vermillion 10) Purper 11) Carmine 12) Blues 13) Prussian blue 14) Cobalt blue 15) Greens 16) Emerald green 17) Chrome oxide green 18) Viridian 19) White 20) Lead white 21) Zinc white Van Gogh painted rapidly, using his paint straight from the tube in thick, with graphic brush strokes (impasto). During the last 70 days of his life, he is said to have averaged one painting per day.

It is well-known that Vincent van Gogh often painted over his older works. Experts estimate that about one third of his early paintings conceal other compositions under them. A new technique, based on synchrotron radiation induced X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, reveals this type of hidden painting. The techniques usually used to reveal concealed layers of paintings, such as conventional X-ray radiography, have their limitations. Van Gogh often didn't blend his colors, but rather placed bold strokes of color next to one another. His bold brush strokes and vibrant colors, are captured in such works as The Starry Night, Arles (The Starlit Night, Arles) and Terrace Café.


An antique dealer sold some of Vincent's drawings for 5-10 cents each, with the better of them going for 25 cents. During Van Gogh's bleakest times, he remains relatively productive, and doesn't allow despondancy to immobilize him. During the last two monthes of his life, Vincent Van Gogh completed 80 paintings. In his lifetime he produced 2000 works, including 900 paintings and 1100 drawings and sketches during the last 10 years of his life. It is apparent from Vincent Van Gogh's life and writings, that he was very much a seeker after God for the early portion of his life. At some point later in life, he seems to drift more and more into what God's word defines as sinful behaviour, in drinking, and smoking and lived with a woman to whom he was not married, and her child. Even if he felt pity or compassion for her, or this saved the expense of hiring a model, artists need to pray for wisdom from God, so as to abstain from the appearance of evil. The bible promises God gives wisdom to all men liberally without upbraiding them. Vincent suffered several nervous breakdowns.

Vincent was voluntarily hospitalized in the St. Paul de Mausole asylum at St. Remy, in Provence, for an entire year, during which he produced 150 paintings.

Vincnt Van Gogh painted approximately 800 paintings. His works which include drawings, total 2, 218. The Van Gogh Museum, holds nearly 200 paintings by Van Gogh, including famous works like "The Potato Eaters," Of this work Vincent stated: "I have tried to emphacize that those people eating their potatoes in the lamp-light have dug the earth with those very hands they put in the dish, and so it speaks of manual labor, and how they have honestly earned their food." Vincent knew the temptation among those who are poor to meet ones needs in a dishonest way. He was impressed to emphasize the importance of honest hard work, not just for the poor of the Borinage, but for the generations that God knew would view his work.

We see Vincent the preacher, speaking a word in agreement from God's own: "..."Let him that stole steal no more but rather let him labour working with his hands..." (Eph. 4:28) The sale in 1987, at auction by Sotheby's, of van Gogh's "Irises" for $53.9 million was the highest ever price paid for a painting. The museum also houses "The Yellow House in Arles." His "Portrait of Dr Gachet" sold for $82.5 million in 1990, "Wheat field with cypresses", 1889 - $57 million (1993) - The third van Gogh in this list. The price is really spectacular if we consider that it was paid in 1993, in the middle of a recession in the values of the Art works after the boom of the late 80s. The philanthropic Walter Annenberg lent the work to the Metropolitan Museum shortly afterwards. "Portrait of the artiste sans barbe",1889- $71.5 million (1998) Though Van Gogh created many self portraits, this was an uncommon one, for the artist portrayed himself without beard, whereas in many other self portraits he has painted himself as a bearded man. The sale of this great picture -not a masterpiece, however- represented an extraordinary success -the auction house had estimated it in less than a half of its final price- and began the recuperation of the exorbitant sums in the Art world after the crises of the middle 90s. in his lifetime Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) endured a spectacularly unsuccessful career. In 11 years of painting he managed to sell only one picture- a painting which sold for 400 francs, just 4 months before his death. The Red Vineyard, a depiction of harvesters at work near Arles, in Provence, where he lived for 15 months. It is now on display in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Russia. In 1962 the Vincent van Gogh Foundation was established in Amsterdam. By 1973 the Dutch Government built the Van Gogh museum which holds hundreds of Vincent’s works as well as a huge archive containing letters and documents. A visit to the Van Gogh Museum to view Vincent Van Gogh's original paintings is a unique experience. The museum contains the largest collection of paintings by Van Gogh in the world.

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