10 curiosities about the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh

10 curiosidades sobre la vida y la obra de Vincent Van Gogh - Nomadart

We delve into the figure of the Dutch painter, unanimously considered one of the best artists in history. From his dead brother to his use of a rare yellow pigment.

Although it is well known, it turns out to be a myth : Vincent Van Gogh did not sell just one painting in his entire life. The big question would be, in any case, how many he painted. Because the exceptional artist born in Zundert, in the Netherlands, in 1853, and reproduced and admired throughout the world , barely worked for a decade, given that his passion for canvases and brushes came to him when he was 27 years old (or 28, depending on the source), dying from a gunshot to the head, it is still unknown whether it was suicide or not, in 1890, at the age of 37 . In that time he had time to finish nearly 900 works.

Now we delve into those curiosities both about those paintings and his work, just as we did with Piet Mondrian .

1. Vincent , a name in honor of his deceased brother.

Vincent Van Gogh would not have been called Vincent if his older brother, the first Vincent Van Gogh, had not died when he was a baby. He was buried in the Zunder church where his father, Theodorus Van Gogh (the same name that the artist's little brother, Theo, would later receive), became a Protestant pastor.

By chance Van Gogh was born just one year after his deceased brother, on March 30, which is why he was baptized with the same name. Later, Theodorus and his wife, Anna Cornelia, would have four more children: Cornelius, Elisabetha, Anna, and Wihelmina Jacoba. Unfortunately, the original family house, on the main street of the town (Markt, 29) was demolished in 1903 .

Image of the house where the famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh was born

2. Painting, a late vocation

Although his genius and technique are undeniable, inspiration came to Vincent Van Gogh at a much more mature age than his other genius colleagues such as Picasso. More specifically, he decided to hold the brush and finish his first work at the age of 27. Previously he had only experimented with drawing in illustrations included in letters addressed to his brother Theo.

Drawings by Vincent Van Gogh in the letters he sent to his brother Theo.

3. The yellow pigment that we will not appreciate.

It's a shame, but no one today sees a Van Gogh painting as it was painted. Above all, those paintings that contain the color yellow, such as his famous Sunflowers or The Bedroom in Arles . And the artist lived during the time of the Industrial Revolution and at that time he saw the birth of a new pigment called chrome yellow.

Not only was this pigment toxic, but it was also chemically unstable, which has caused many shades to disappear over the years and the paintings to have darkened and lost part of their luminosity. Koen Janssens, one of the leaders of the investigation into this painting that had lost its vividness, summarized: “Reversing that chemical reaction would probably cause more damage to the paintings.”

4. The only sale of his entire career

Although the myth that Van Gogh had not sold a single work in his entire career has spread over the years, the truth is that there is certainty that the famous Dutch artist did sell at least one painting. This was The Red Vineyard near Arles , which was painted by the artist in 1888 and which was sold for the price of 400 francs to a Belgian painter named Anna Boch .

5. “Dirty and poorly dressed”

He lived 122 years and 164 days. We are talking about Jeanne Louise Calment, the oldest known person in history. She was born in France in 1876, which is why Jeanne Louise Calment met Vincent Van Gogh, since she was also in Arles at the time the painter spent his famous season there in 1888.

When she was 12 or 13 years old, she recalled, the Dutch genius went to Jeanne's uncle's store to buy various inks. “ Dirty, very poorly dressed and unpleasant,” he once commented, as reported in the McCook Gazette of August 4, 1997 , the year he died. Also, as his obituary reported in The New York Times, he thought that Van Gogh was “very ugly, serious, rude and sick; "I forgive him, they said he was crazy."

6. The disease he suffered from birth.

Van Gogh was born with a brain dysfunction that marked his life from birth. The painter suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy which caused seizures. The painter tried to calm his pain with absentia, a drink that mixed with the treatment his doctor prescribed for his brain injury, digitalis, can cause people to see the world in a more yellow tone, historians pointing out what could be one of the reasons why the painter used this color so much.

7. The mysteries of Van Gogh's life

There are many hypotheses and doubts that surround the life of the Dutch artist. One of the most notable is the loss of his ear, the certainty that it was automated after an argument in Arles having gone down in history, although later indications have emerged that the event occurred in a brothel and that the ear was cut off. with a sword by his colleague and painter Paul Gauguin. Apparently, Van Gogh then wrapped it in a scarf and gave it to a prostitute named Raquel.

Another of the great mysteries of Van Gogh's life was undoubtedly his death. All accounts suggest that it was a suicide at the age of 37 after the artist suffered enormous depression, shooting himself in the head. Although, as we already wrote in this article, large-scale clues have recently appeared that suggest that it could have been a murder, and all thanks to some roots that appear in his work Tree Roots .

8. Its relationship with the physical theory of turbulence.

A recent study shows that specifically three of his works, The Starry Night”, “Road with Cypress and Star” and “Wheat Field with Crows” created in his most psychotic stage, accurately capture the physical theory of fluid turbulence. and they reproduce the laws described by the Russian physicist and mathematician Andrei Kolmogorov in 1941.

These hallucinated works of the artist reflect the fingerprint of turbulence with such realism that they completely coincide with Kolmogorov's mathematical model.

Manuel Torres – Member of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)

The Starry Night, one of the works that explains the interesting theory of turbulence.

9. Music inspired by the Dutch painter.

It is clear that anyone who is asked how the painter of Trigal con cuervos or Terraza de café en la noche influenced music will say that with the name of the popular band from San Sebastian Van Gogh's ear, which made reference to the famous episode in the one in which the painter cut (or had) his hair cut.

But it is not the only group he has inspired. In fact, one of Serbia's most famous rock groups, founded in 1986, was named as such: Van Gogh . And it is still active. Likewise, it is impossible not to mention here the American singer-songwriter Don McLean, who apart from his well-known anthem American Pie , has a song, titled Vincent , inspired by The Starry Night .

10. Monopoly

Like Mondrian , Van Gogh also has his own board game. Although in this case it is a version of another much better known one: Monopoly. Obviously, the rules remain the same, although instead of buying properties you acquire the Dutch painter's own works of art , the train stations of the places he passed through, and all this using exclusive tokens such as a tube of paint or his famous bed.

Although it is only available in English and Dutch, if you want to obtain it, it is possible here.

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