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Did not cut off his entire ear and had an affair with a pregnant prostitute: 7 interesting facts about the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh

Darya SkubEntertainment
Vincent van Gogh became famous thanks to his brother's wife.

The contemporaries of the Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh considered his work a "smear" and a waste of time, and the artist himself was called "le fou roux" ("the red-headed madman")... This genius was recognized only after his death. His works became one of the most expensive in the world! For example, the painting "Portrait of Dr. Gachet" (1890) was sold in 1990 for 82.5 million dollars.

On the occasion of the 171st anniversary of Vincent van Gogh's birth, we decided to tell the most interesting facts from his life in the OBOZ.UA material. We are sure that some of them will shock even the most ardent admirers of the artist's work.

1. He did not plan to be an artist

Before taking up painting, van Gogh tried his hand at many other professions. In 1875, he worked at the Boussod et Valadon gallery in Paris. The young man did not like the works of art he was supposed to sell and did not hesitate to say so to his clients. He was fired because of his audacity...

In 1876, van Gogh took a position as a teacher at a school for poor students. He soon quit because he sympathized with his students. Then he decided to become a pastor to support the poor and needy. Unfortunately, his altruism and generosity did not compensate for his lack of eloquence and theological knowledge. So the 27-year-old went on a journey through Belgium, Holland, London, and France in search of his artistic vision. It was then that he began to paint his first pictures.

Did not cut off his entire ear and had an affair with a pregnant prostitute: 7 interesting facts about the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh

His younger brother Theo van Gogh, a picture dealer, supported the aspiring artist morally and financially. In 1886, the two went to live in Paris. There, Vincent got acquainted with the works of Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist artists and began to use a lighter, a brighter palette, as well as experiment with the impasto technique (applying paints in a thick layer to a separate area or the entire surface of a painting; when using this technique, the paint forms a relief).

Did not cut off his entire ear and had an affair with a pregnant prostitute: 7 interesting facts about the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh

2. He was too poor to pay models

The then unknown and poor artist van Gogh did not have the money to hire models or sitters. He mostly spent it on materials for his art, alcohol (probably out of desperation), cigarettes, coffee, and bread. Once he even complained to his brother, saying that he had eaten about six hot meals in a year, and his teeth began to loosen and hurt...

Did not cut off his entire ear and had an affair with a pregnant prostitute: 7 interesting facts about the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh

Thus, it's no wonder why Vincent painted himself, nature, flowers, relatives, friends, or ordinary peasants. All for financial gain. We should add that sometimes the artist painted some pictures on top of others on the same canvas. This was also done to save money.

Did not cut off his entire ear and had an affair with a pregnant prostitute: 7 interesting facts about the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh
Did not cut off his entire ear and had an affair with a pregnant prostitute: 7 interesting facts about the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh

3. Did he really sell only one painting in his entire life?

Vincent van Gogh's artistic output is impressive. In 10 years (that's how long he devoted to art), he created more than 2,100 works, including 800+ paintings and 1,300+ drawings. On average, he spent 36 hours on each masterpiece. This result is a testament to his unwavering dedication to his craft, as well as his desire to explore and experiment with different artistic techniques. Van Gogh's works cover a wide range of subjects: landscapes, still lifes, portraits and self-portraits.

Did not cut off his entire ear and had an affair with a pregnant prostitute: 7 interesting facts about the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh

When Vincent painted "Starry Night," he thought it was of mediocre quality. Moreover, the insecure artist considered almost all of his works of art to be unsuccessful... But did this prevent him from selling them? For a long time, "The Red Vineyards near Arles" was unreasonably considered to be the only work of his acquired during his lifetime. The painting was purchased in Brussels in 1890 for 400 francs. How many sales were actually made? There are no exact figures. It is known that at least 14 works were sold. An interesting fact: when van Gogh sold his first painting, he wrote the following words to his brother, "The first sheep has crossed the bridge".

Did not cut off his entire ear and had an affair with a pregnant prostitute: 7 interesting facts about the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh

4. He had an affair with a prostitute

Starting in 1882, Vincent lived with a homeless prostitute named Sien for 18 months. He even wanted to marry her! However, his family, including his brother Theo, did not approve of this decision. So, during their romantic relationship, the artist took care of a woman who was pregnant (not by him), and she posed as a model. When she gave birth to a daughter, she named her Vincent. Later, the couple began to have serious financial problems... Siena returned to prostitution, and van Gogh left her to live in his apartment and left forever.

Did not cut off his entire ear and had an affair with a pregnant prostitute: 7 interesting facts about the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh

5. He had serious mental health problems

Van Gogh's emotional state directly influenced his work. Dark and gloomy shades conveyed inner turmoil and heartache. When the artist was relatively calm, his art acquired brighter and more optimistic colors...

Did not cut off his entire ear and had an affair with a pregnant prostitute: 7 interesting facts about the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh

Vincent suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy (known as The Geschwind syndrome), characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. This did not prevent him from mastering foreign languages (French and English) and reading books by his favorite writers (Emile Zola, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, and William Shakespeare). Van Gogh wrote about the latter in a letter to Theo, "God, how beautiful Shakespeare is. Who else is as mysterious as he is? His language is like a brush trembling with excitement and ecstasy."

Years passed... Due to his contradictory nature, the artist faced social isolation from his colleagues. Thus, prolonged use of absinthe and loneliness worsened his condition: he began to suffer from manic depression and hallucinations.

6. He did not cut off his entire ear

Contrary to popular belief, van Gogh did not cut off his ear completely! The details of this case have been greatly exaggerated. In 1888, he rented a house in Arles (France) in the hope of finding a community of painters (and being less of a burden to his brother)... The incident occurred on December 23, 1888. After a heated argument with a fellow artist Paul Gauguin, Vincent, in a state of emotional stress, took a knife and cut off part of his left earlobe. Then he wrapped it in a cloth and gave it to a prostitute named Rachel, who worked in a brothel next door to his house. After that, the man was hospitalized for several days.

Did not cut off his entire ear and had an affair with a pregnant prostitute: 7 interesting facts about the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh

7. He became world famous thanks to his brother's wife

During his lifetime, van Gogh failed to achieve commercial success, and at the age of 37, he committed suicide. The day after his death, on July 30, 1890, a funeral ceremony took place. At the same time, the first "exhibition" of the artist's works was held. His family and friends hung several paintings near the coffin.

Six months had passed. Van Gogh's brother Theo also died (syphilis). Subsequently, Theo's widow, Jo van Gogh Bonger, inherited a large collection of Vincent's paintings, drawings, and letters. She decided to popularize them by exhibiting them at various exhibitions. And in 1914, she published a collection of van Gogh's letters to "tell" the story of his life. Thanks to her diligence and tireless work, the artist became known all over the world.

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