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Vincent Van Gogh

  • Date Submitted: 08/21/2011 12:03 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 54.9 
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Vincent van Gogh, the eldest son of a Dutch Reformed minister and a bookseller's daughter, pursued various vocations, including that of an art dealer and clergyman, before deciding to become an artist at the age of twenty-seven. Over the course of his decade-long career (1880–90), he produced nearly 900 paintings and more than 1,100 works on paper. Ironically, in 1890, he modestly assessed his artistic legacy as "of very secondary importance."

Largely self-taught, Van Gogh gained his footing as an artist by zealously copying prints and studying nineteenth-century drawing manuals and lesson books, such as Charles Bargue's Exercises au fusain and cours de dessin. He felt that it was necessary to master black and white before working with color, and first concentrated on learning the rudiments of figure drawing and rendering landscapes in correct perspective. In 1882, he moved from his parents' home in Etten to the Hague, where he received some formal instruction from his cousin, Anton Mauve, a leading Hague School artist. That same year, he executed his first independent works in watercolor and ventured into oil painting; he also enjoyed his first earnings as an artist: his uncle, the art dealer C. M. Van Gogh, commissioned two sets of drawings of Hague townscapes for which Van Gogh chose to depict such everyday sites as views of the railway station, gasworks, and nursery gardens (1972.118.281).

Largely self-taught, Van Gogh gained his footing as an artist by zealously copying prints and studying nineteenth-century drawing manuals and lesson books.
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Van Gogh's admiration for the Barbizon artists, in particular Jean-François Millet, influenced his decision to paint rural life. In the winter of 1884–85, while living with his parents in Nuenen, he painted more than forty studies of peasant heads, which culminated...

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