He’s best known for his artwork, The Starry Night, the painting with swirls of blue and patches of yellow in it. Other popular ones are Sunflowers, Potato Eaters, and The Bedroom in Arles. Another thing people might remember about him is that he cut off his own ear and that he might’ve been bipolar or manic. But what is the truth behind all these speculations? Was Van Gogh really disturbed, a self-harmer, or just generally misunderstood? Here are a number of facts and basic information that you might’ve not known about the Dutch painter.
Basic Van Gogh Info
He was born in the year 1853, specifically on the 30th of March, and was raised in Holland. He grew up in an upper middle class family to parents Anna Cornelia Corbentus and Reverend Theodorus Van Gogh. His father and grandparents were all ministers, while the rest of his family was part of the art business.
Fun Fact #1: He was named after his deceased brother, whom his mother delivered as a stillborn.
Fun Fact #2: Van Gogh was actually closest to his younger brother Theo, whom he often wrote to throughout his lifetime.
Earlier in his life, he originally aspired to be a minister like his father and other relatives but turned away from this life when he was denied an entrance into The School of Theology in Amsterdam because he didn’t and wasn’t able to speak Latin. Despite this, however, Van Gogh continued to live a life of religiosity as with what he grew up in around his family and kept the Bible despite having a mental breakdown sometime later and ended up throwing out all his books.
Van Gogh The Artist
Fun Fact #3: Van Gogh lived his life only having sold one painting, despite having produced so many before he died.
Fun Fact #4: Van Gogh died thinking his art was a failure and generally not good enough during his time.
Van Gogh began pursuing his artistic career when he was 27 when he first got his painting set thanks to his brother Theo, according to a letter he sent him way back then. He used to just begin sketching people and the workers he saw at the coal mines when he used to go and preach there using only a charcoal pencil; and after exclusively just drawing for a year, he deemed himself “mature” enough to go into painting without any formal training in the arts at all.
Fun Fact #5: Van Gogh created almost 900 paintings and more than 1,100 works on paper before his death.
Fun Fact #6: His extreme productivity might’ve been because of his temporal epilepsy and his hypergraphia, which causes those inflicted with it to have an intense need to write, or in Van Gogh’s case, paint.
During his quest for art, Van Gogh met a lot of artists and was passionate with what he was doing. He learned impressionism when it first became popular around France under the supervision and funding of his brother Theo. His art eventually became influenced by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro. He also became good friends with another artist, Paul Gauguin.
Fun Fact #7: There has been a lot of speculation about whether Van Gogh actually cut a portion of his ear off or if it was painfully a result of one of his and Gauguin’s violent fights gone wrong. Gauguin was skilled at fencing, and he may or may not have deliberately attempted to injure Van Gogh when it happened. Regardless, it has been thought that these two artists made a pact to never tell anyone what actually happened, so this remains a mystery up until today.
Fun Fact #8: Van Gogh allegedly gave the severed part of his ear to a prostitute as a “gift.”