March 30 marks the 166th birth anniversary of one of the greatest artists in world history, Vincent van Gogh.
His tremendous landscapes, still-lifes, portraits and sketches with their vibrant colors and subjective perspective revolutionized how the world viewed art.
Here are some interesting facts about the legendary artist:
- Van Gogh was largely self-taught, and only received formal artistic training for about four months just a few years before his death.
- In less than 10 years, he painted almost 900 paintings. From November 1881 to July 1890, van Gogh produced close to 900 paintings. At the age of 27, he abandoned his unsuccessful careers as an art dealer and a missionary and concentrated on his painting and drawing.
- He wrote nearly as many letters as he created paintings. Van Gogh composed nearly 800 letters in his lifetime, mainly to his brother and closest friend Theo.
- He sold only one painting while he was alive: The Red Vineyard which went for 400 francs in Belgium seven months before his death. His most expensive painting Portrait of Dr. Gachet was sold for $148.6 million in 1990.
- One of the most famous anecdotes of Van Gogh’s life concerns the artist cutting off his own left ear. In reality, only the lobe of the ear was cut off. As the story goes, he was in an argument with Gauguin that sent him into such frenzy that he picked up a razor and mutilated his ear.
- Starry Night, arguably his most famous work, was painted in an asylum at Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France. He voluntarily admitted himself there to recover from his 1888 nervous breakdown which resulted in the earlobe-cutting incident. The painting depicts the view from his bedroom window. It has been part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection since 1941.
- His last letter read,’ I try to do as well as certain painters whom I have greatly loved and admired.’
On July 27, 1890, van Gogh shot himself in the chest. There were no witnesses and the gun was never found. He committed the act either in the wheat field he had been painting or in a barn. Two doctors tended to him, but the bullet could not be removed because there was no surgeon available.
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