François-Auguste-René Rodin (12 November 1840 – 17 November 1917), known as Auguste Rodin, was a French sculptor. Although Rodin is generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture, he did not set out to rebel against the past. He was schooled traditionally, took a craftsman-like approach to his work, and desired academic recognitionSony VPCEH3T9E battery, although he was never accepted into Paris's foremost school of art.
Sculpturally, Rodin possessed a unique ability to model a complex, turbulent, deeply pocketed surface in clay. Many of his most notable sculptures were roundly criticized during his lifetime. They clashed with the predominant figure sculpture tradition, in which works were decorative, formulaic, or highly thematicSony VPCEH3N6E battery. Rodin's most original work departed from traditional themes of mythology and allegory, modeled the human body with realism, and celebrated individual character and physicality. Rodin was sensitive to the controversy surrounding his work, but refused to change his style. Successive works brought increasing favor from the government and the artistic communitySony VPCEH3N1E battery.
From the unexpected realism of his first major figure — inspired by his 1875 trip to Italy — to the unconventional memorials whose commissions he later sought, Rodin's reputation grew, such that he became the preeminent French sculptor of his time. By 1900, he was a world-renowned artist. Wealthy private clients sought Rodin's work after his World's Fair exhibitSony VPCEH3D0E battery, and he kept company with a variety of high-profile intellectuals and artists. He married his life-long companion, Rose Beuret, in the last year of both their lives. His sculptures suffered a decline in popularity after his death in 1917, but within a few decades, his legacy solidified. Rodin remains one of the few sculptors widely known outside the visual arts communitySony VPCEH3B1E battery.
Rodin's signature on The Thinker
Rodin was born in 1840 into a working-class family in Paris, the second child of Marie Cheffer and Jean-Baptiste Rodin, who was a police department clerk. He was largely self-educated, and began to draw at age ten. Between ages 14 and 17, Rodin attended the Petite École, a school specializing in art and mathematics, where he studied drawing and paintingSony VPCEH2Z1E battery. His drawing teacher, Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran, believed in first developing the personality of his students so that they observed with their own eyes and drew from their recollections. Rodin still expressed appreciation for his teacher much later in life. It was at Petite École that he first met Jules Dalou and Alphonse LegrosSony VPCEH2S9E battery.
In 1857, Rodin submitted a clay model of a companion to the Grand École in an attempt to win entrance; he did not succeed, and two further applications were also denied. Given that entrance requirements at the Grand École were not particularly high, the rejections were considerable setbacks. Rodin's inability to gain entrance may have been due to the judges' Neoclassical tastes, while Rodin had been schooled in lightSony VPCEH2Q1E battery, 18th-century sculpture. Leaving the Petite École in 1857, Rodin would earn a living as a craftsman and ornamenter for most of the next two decades, producing decorative objects and architectural embellishments.
Rodin's sister Maria, two years his senior, died of peritonitis in a convent in 1862. Her brother was anguished, and felt guilty because he had introduced Maria to an unfaithful suitor. Turning away from artSony VPCEH2P0E battery, Rodin briefly joined a Catholic order, the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. Saint Peter Julian Eymard, founder and head of the congregation, recognized Rodin's talent and, sensing his lack of suitability for the order, encouraged Rodin to continue with his sculpture. He returned to work as a decorator, while taking classes with animal sculptor Antoine-Louis BaryeSony VPCEH2N1E battery. The teacher's attention to detail — his finely rendered musculature of animals in motion — significantly influenced Rodin.
In 1864, Rodin began to live with a young seamstress named Rose Beuret, with whom he would stay — with ranging commitment — for the rest of his life. The couple had a son, Auguste-Eugène Beuret (1866–1934). That year, Rodin offered his first sculpture for exhibition, and entered the studio of Albert-Ernest Carrier-BelleuseSony VPCEH2M9E battery, a successful mass producer of objets d'art. Rodin worked as Carrier-Belleuse' chief assistant until 1870, designing roof decorations and staircase and doorway embellishments. With the arrival of the Franco-Prussian War, Rodin was called to serve in the National Guard, but his service was brief due to his near-sightedness. Decorators' work had dwindled because of the war, yet Rodin needed to support his familySony VPCEH2M1E battery; poverty was a continual difficulty for Rodin until about the age of 30. Carrier-Belleuse soon asked Rodin to join him in Belgium, where they would work on ornamentation for Brussels' bourse.
Rodin planned to stay in Belgium a few months, but he spent the next six years abroad. It was a pivotal time in his life. He had acquired skill and experience as a craftsman, but no one had yet seen his art, which sat in his workshop, since he could not afford castingsSony VPCEH2L9E battery. Though his relationship with Carrier-Belleuse deteriorated, Rodin found other employment in Brussels, displaying some works at salons, and his companion Rose soon joined him there. Having saved enough money to travel, Rodin visited Italy for two months in 1875, where he was drawn to the work of Donatello and Michelangelo. Their work had a profound effect on his artistic directionSony VPCEH2J1E battery. Rodin said, "It is Michelangelo who has freed me from academic sculpture." Returning to Belgium, he began work on The Age of Bronze, a life-size male figure whose realism brought Rodin attention but led to accusations of sculptural cheating.
Rodin in 1893
Rose Beuret and Rodin returned to Paris in 1877, moving into a small flat on the Left Bank. Misfortune surrounded Rodin: his mother, who had wanted to see her son marry, was dead, and his father was blind and senileSony VPCEH2H1E battery, cared for by Rodin's sister-in-law, Aunt Thérèse. Rodin's eleven-year-old son Auguste, possibly developmentally delayed, was also in the ever-helpful Thérèse's care. Rodin had essentially abandoned his son for six years, and would have a very limited relationship with him throughout his life. Father and son now joined the couple in their flat, with Rose as caretakerSony VPCEH2F1E battery. The charges of fakery surrounding The Age of Bronze continued. Rodin increasingly sought more soothing female companionship in Paris, and Rose stayed in the background.
Rodin earned his living collaborating with more established sculptors on public commissions, primarily memorials and neo-baroque architectural pieces in the style of Carpeaux. In competitions for commissions he submitted models of Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Lazare Carnot, all to no avail. On his own time, he worked on studies leading to the creation of his next important work, St. John the Baptist PreachingSony VPCEH2E0E battery.
In 1880, Carrier-Belleuse — now art director of the Sèvres national porcelain factory — offered Rodin a part-time position as a designer. The offer was in part a gesture of reconciliation, and Rodin accepted. That part of Rodin which appreciated 18th-century tastes was aroused, and he immersed himself in designs for vases and table ornaments that brought the factory renown across EuropeSony VPCEH2D0E battery. The artistic community appreciated his work in this vein, and Rodin was invited to Paris Salons by such friends as writer Léon Cladel. During his early appearances at these social events, Rodin seemed shy; in his later years, as his fame grew, he displayed the loquaciousness and temperament for which he is better known. French statesman Leon Gambetta expressed a desire to meet Rodin, and the sculptor impressed him when they met at a salonSony VPCEH2C0E battery. Gambetta spoke of Rodin in turn to several government ministers, likely including Edmund Turquet, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Fine Arts, whom Rodin eventually met.
Camille Claudel (1864–1943)
Rodin's relationship with Turquet was rewarding: through him, he won the 1880 commission to create a portal for a planned museum of decorative arts. Rodin dedicated much of the next four decades to his elaborate Gates of Hell, an unfinished portal for a museum that was never builtSony VPCEH29FJ/W battery. Many of the portal's figures became sculptures in themselves, including Rodin's most famous, The Thinker and The Kiss. With the museum commission came a free studio, granting Rodin a new level of artistic freedom. Soon, he stopped working at the porcelain factory; his income came from private commissions.
In 1883, Rodin agreed to supervise a course for sculptor Alfred Boucher in his absence, where he met the 18-year-old Camille ClaudelSony VPCEH29FJ/P battery. The two formed a passionate but stormy relationship and influenced each other artistically. Claudel inspired Rodin as a model for many of his figures, and she was a talented sculptor, assisting him on commissions.
Although busy with The Gates of Hell, Rodin won other commissions. He pursued an opportunity to create a historical monument for the town of CalaisSony VPCEH29FJ/B battery. For a monument to French author Honoré de Balzac, Rodin was chosen in 1891. His execution of both sculptures clashed with traditional tastes, and met with varying degrees of disapproval from the organizations that sponsored the commissions. Still, Rodin was gaining support from diverse sources that propelled him toward fameSony VPCEH28FN/L battery.
In 1889, the Paris Salon invited Rodin to be a judge on its artistic jury. Though Rodin's career was on the rise, Claudel and Beuret were becoming increasingly impatient with Rodin's "double life". Claudel and Rodin shared an atelier at a small old castle, but Rodin refused to relinquish his ties to Beuret, his loyal companion during the lean years, and mother of his sonSony VPCEH28FJ/W battery. During one absence, Rodin wrote to Beuret, "I think of how much you must have loved me to put up with my caprices…I remain, in all tenderness, your Rodin." Claudel and Rodin parted in 1898. Claudel suffered a nervous breakdown several years later and was confined to an institution by her family until her death.
In 1864, Rodin submitted his first sculpture for exhibition, The Man with the Broken Nose, to the Paris Salon. The subject was an elderly neighbourhood street porterSony VPCEH28FJ/P battery. The unconventional bronze piece was not a traditional bust, but instead the head was "broken off" at the neck, the nose was flattened and crooked, and the back of the head was absent, having fallen off the clay model in an accident. The work emphasized texture and the emotional state of the subject; it illustrated the "unfinishedness" that would characterize many of Rodin's later sculpturesSony VPCEH28FJ/B battery. The Salon rejected the piece.
The Age of Bronze (1877)
Early figures: the inspiration of Italy
In Brussels, Rodin created his first full-scale work, The Age of Bronze, having returned from Italy. Modelled by a Belgian soldier, the figure drew inspiration from Michelangelo's Dying Slave, which Rodin had observed at the Louvre. Attempting to combine Michelangelo's mastery of the human form with his own sense of human nature, Rodin studied his model from all anglesSony VPCEH28FH/B battery, at rest and in motion; he mounted a ladder for additional perspective, and made clay models, which he studied by candlelight. The result was a life-size, well-proportioned nude figure, posed unconventionally with his right hand atop his head, and his left arm held out at his side, forearm parallel to the body.
In 1877, the work debuted in Brussels and then was shown at the Paris SalonSony VPCEH28FG/P battery. The statue's apparent lack of a theme was troubling to critics—commemorating neither mythology nor a noble historical event — and it is not clear whether Rodin intended a theme. He first titled the work The Vanquished, in which form the left hand held a spear, but he removed the spear because it obstructed the torso from certain angles. After two more intermediary titlesSony VPCEH28FG/B battery, Rodin settled on The Age of Bronze, suggesting the Bronze Age, and in Rodin's words, "man arising from nature". Later, however, Rodin said that he had had in mind "just a simple piece of sculpture without reference to subject".
Its mastery of form, light, and shadow made the work look so realistic that Rodin was accused of surmoulage — having taken a cast from a living model. Rodin vigorously denied the chargesSony VPCEH28FF/B battery, writing to newspapers and having photographs taken of the model to prove how the sculpture differed. He demanded an inquiry and was eventually exonerated by a committee of sculptors. Leaving aside the false charges, the piece polarized critics. It had barely won acceptance for display at the Paris Salon, and criticism likened it to "a statue of a sleepwalker" and called it "an astonishingly accurate copy of a low type"Sony VPCEH28FA/B battery. Others rallied to defend the piece and Rodin's integrity. The government minister Turquet admired the piece, and The Age of Bronze was purchased by the state for 2,200 francs — what it had cost Rodin to have it cast in bronze.
St. John the Baptist Preaching (1878)
A second male nude, St. John the Baptist Preaching, was completed in 1878. Rodin sought to avoid another charge of surmoulage by making the statue larger than life: St. John stands almost 6' 7"'' (2 m) Sony VPCEH27FG/W battery. While The Age of Bronze is statically posed, St. John gestures and seems to move toward the viewer. The effect of walking is achieved despite the figure having both feet firmly on the ground — a physical impossibility, and a technical achievement that was lost on most contemporary critics. Rodin chose this contradictory position to, in his words, "display simultaneously…views of an object which in fact can be seen only successively"Sony VPCEH26FJ/W battery. Despite the title, St. John the Baptist Preaching did not have an obviously religious theme. The model, an Italian peasant who presented himself at Rodin's studio, possessed an idiosyncratic sense of movement that Rodin felt compelled to capture. Rodin thought of John the Baptist, and carried that association into the title of the work. In 1880, Rodin submitted the sculpture to the Paris SalonSony VPCEH26EN/B battery. Critics were still mostly dismissive of his work, but the piece finished third in the Salon's sculpture category.
Regardless of the immediate receptions of St. John and The Age of Bronze, Rodin had achieved a new degree of fame. Students sought him at his studio, praising his work and scorning the charges of surmoulage. The artistic community knew his nameSony VPCEH26EH/P battery.
The Gates of Hell
The Gates of Hell (unfinished), Musée Rodin
A commission to create a portal for Paris' planned Museum of Decorative Arts was awarded to Rodin in 1880. Although the museum was never built, Rodin worked throughout his life on The Gates of Hell, a monumental sculptural group depicting scenes from Dante's Inferno in high relief. Often lacking a clear conception of his major works, Rodin compensated with hard work and a striving for perfectionSony VPCEH26EG/P battery. He conceived The Gates with the surmoulage controversy still in mind: "…I had made the St. John to refute [the charges of casting from a model], but it only partially succeeded. To prove completely that I could model from life as well as other sculptors, I determined…to make the sculpture on the door of figures smaller than life." Laws of composition gave way to the Gates' disordered and untamed depiction of HellSony VPCEH26EF/B battery. The figures and groups in this, Rodin's meditation on the condition of man, are physically and morally isolated in their torment.
The Gates of Hell comprised 186 figures in its final form. Many of Rodin's best-known sculptures started as designs of figures for this composition, such as The Thinker, The Three Shades, and The Kiss, and were only later presented as separate and independent worksSony VPCEH26EA/W battery. Other well-known works derived from The Gates are Ugolino, Fugit Amor, The Falling Man, and The Prodigal Son.
The Thinker (originally titled The Poet, after Dante) was to become one of the most well-known sculptures in the world. The original was a 27.5-inch (700 mm)-high bronze piece created between 1879 and 1889, designed for the Gates' lintel, from which the figure would gaze down upon Hell. While The Thinker most obviously characterizes DanteSony VPCEH25EN/W battery, aspects of the Biblical Adam, the mythological Prometheus, and Rodin himself have been ascribed to him. Other observers de-emphasize the apparent intellectual theme of The Thinker, stressing the figure's rough physicality and the emotional tension emanating from it.
The Burghers of Calais (1884–ca. 1889) in Victoria Tower Gardens, London, EnglandSony VPCEH25EG/B battery
The Burghers of Calais
Main article: The Burghers of Calais
The town of Calais had contemplated an historical monument for decades when Rodin learned of the project. He pursued the commission, interested in the medieval motif and patriotic theme. The mayor of Calais was tempted to hire Rodin on the spot upon visiting his studio, and soon the memorial was approved, with Rodin as its architectSony VPCEH24FX/W battery. It would commemorate the six townspeople of Calais who offered their lives to save their fellow citizens. During the Hundred Years' War, the army of King Edward III besieged Calais, and Edward ordered that the town's population be killed en masse. He agreed to spare them if six of the principal citizens would come to him prepared to die, bareheaded and barefooted and with ropes around their necksSony VPCEH24FX/P battery. When they came, he ordered that they be executed, but pardoned them when his queen, Philippa of Hainault, begged him to spare their lives. The Burghers of Calais depicts the men as they are leaving for the king's camp, carrying keys to the town's gates and citadel.
Rodin began the project in 1884, inspired by the chronicles of the siege by Jean Froissart. Though the town envisioned an allegorical, heroic piece centered on Eustache de Saint-Pierre, the eldest of the six menSony VPCEH24FX/L battery, Rodin conceived the sculpture as a study in the varied and complex emotions under which all six men were laboring. One year into the commission, the Calais committee was not impressed with Rodin's progress. Rodin indicated his willingness to end the project rather than change his design to meet the committee's conservative expectations, but Calais said to continueSony VPCEH24FX/B battery.
In 1889, The Burghers of Calais was first displayed to general acclaim. It is a bronze sculpture weighing two tons (1,814 kg), and its figures are 6.6 ft (2 m) tall. The six men portrayed do not display a united, heroic front; rather, each is isolated from his brothers, individually deliberating and struggling with his expected fate. Rodin soon proposed that the monument's high pedestal be eliminatedSony VPCEH1Z1E battery, wanting to move the sculpture to ground level so that viewers could "penetrate to the heart of the subject". At ground level, the figures' positions lead the viewer around the work, and subtly suggest their common movement forward. The committee was incensed by the untraditional proposal, but Rodin would not yield. In 1895, Calais succeeded in having Burghers displayed in their preferred formSony VPCEH1S9E battery: the work was placed in front of a public garden on a high platform, surrounded by a cast-iron railing. Rodin had wanted it located near the town hall, where it would engage the public. Only after damage during the First World War, subsequent storage, and Rodin's death was the sculpture displayed as he had intended. It is one of Rodin's best-known and most acclaimed works. Sony VPCEH1S8E battery
Commissions and controversy
Auguste Rodin in mid-career.
Rodin observing work on the monument to Victor Hugo at the studio of his assistant Henri Lebossé in 1896
Commissioned to create a monument to French writer Victor Hugo in 1889, Rodin dealt extensively with the subject of artist and muse. Like many of Rodin's public commissions, Monument to Victor Hugo was met with resistance because it did not fit conventional expectationsSony VPCEH1S1E battery. Commenting on Rodin's monument to Victor Hugo, The Times in 1909 expressed that "there is some show of reason in the complaint that [Rodin's] conceptions are sometimes unsuited to his medium, and that in such cases they overstrain his vast technical powers". The 1897 plaster model was not cast in bronze until 1964Sony VPCEH1S0E battery.
Monument to Balzac (1891–1898)
The Société des Gens des Lettres, a Parisian organization of writers, planned a monument to French novelist Honoré de Balzac immediately after his death in 1850. The society commissioned Rodin to create the memorial in 1891, and Rodin spent years developing the concept for his sculpture. Challenged in finding an appropriate representation of Balzac given the author's rotund physiqueSony VPCEH1M9E battery, Rodin produced many studies: portraits, full-length figures in the nude, wearing a frock coat, or in a robe—a replica of which Rodin had requested. The realized sculpture displays Balzac cloaked in the drapery, looking forcefully into the distance with deeply gouged features. Rodin's intent had been to show Balzac at the moment of conceiving a work — to express courage, labor, and struggleSony VPCEH1M1E battery.
When Balzac was exhibited in 1898, the negative reaction was not surprising. The Société rejected the work, and the press ran parodies. Criticizing the work, Morey (1918) reflected, "there may come a time, and doubtless will come a time, when it will not seem outre to represent a great novelist as a huge comic mask crowning a bathrobeSony VPCEH1L9E battery, but even at the present day this statue impresses one as slang." A modern critic, indeed, indicates that Balzac is one of Rodin's masterpieces. The monument had its supporters in Rodin's day; a manifesto defending him was signed by Monet, Debussy, and future Premier Georges Clemenceau, among many othersSony VPCEH1L8E battery.
Rather than try to convince skeptics of the merit of the monument, Rodin repaid the Société his commission and moved the figure to his garden. After this experience, Rodin did not complete another public commission. Only in 1939 was Monument to Balzac cast in bronzeSony VPCEH1L0E battery.
The Shade, High Museum of Art, Atlanta
The popularity of Rodin's most famous sculptures tends to obscure his total creative output. A prolific artist, he created thousands of busts, figures, and sculptural fragments over more than five decades. He painted in oils (especially in his thirties) and in watercolors. The Musée Rodin holds 7,000 of his drawings and prints, in chalk and charcoal, and thirteen vigorous drypoints. He also produced a single lithographSony VPCEH1J8E battery.
Portraiture was an important component of Rodin's oeuvre, helping him to win acceptance and financial independence. His first sculpture was a bust of his father in 1860, and he produced at least 56 portraits between 1877 and his death in 1917. Early subjects included fellow sculptor Jules Dalou (1883) and companion Camille Claudel (1884) Sony VPCEH1J1E battery. Later, with his reputation established, Rodin made busts of prominent contemporaries such as English politician George Wyndham (1905), Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1906), Austrian composer Gustav Mahler (1909), former Argentinian president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento and French statesman Georges Clemenceau (1911) Sony VPCEH1E1E battery.
A famous "fragment": The Walking Man
Rodin was a naturalist, less concerned with monumental expression than with character and emotion. Departing with centuries of tradition, he turned away from the idealism of the Greeks, and the decorative beauty of the Baroque and neo-Baroque movements. His sculpture emphasized the individual and the concreteness of flesh, and suggested emotion through detailedSony VPCEH1AJ battery, textured surfaces, and the interplay of light and shadow. To a greater degree than his contemporaries, Rodin believed that an individual's character was revealed by his physical features.
Rodin's talent for surface modeling allowed him to let every part of the body speak for the whole. The male's passion in The Kiss is suggested by the grip of his toes on the rock, the rigidness of his back, and the differentiation of his hands. Speaking of The Thinker, Rodin illuminated his aestheticSony VPCEH19FJ/W battery: "What makes my Thinker think is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back, and legs, with his clenched fist and gripping toes."
Sculptural fragments to Rodin were autonomous works, and he considered them the essence of his artistic statement. His fragments—perhaps lacking armsSony VPCEH19FJ/P battery, legs, or a head—took sculpture further from its traditional role of portraying likenesses, and into a realm where forms existed for their own sake. Notable examples are The Walking Man, Meditation without Arms, and Iris, Messenger of the Gods.
Rodin saw suffering and conflict as hallmarks of modern art. "Nothing, really, is more moving than the maddened beast, dying from unfulfilled desire and asking in vain for grace to quell its passion." Sony VPCEH19FJ/B battery Charles Baudelaire echoed those themes, and was among Rodin's favorite poets. Rodin enjoyed music, especially the opera composer Gluck, and wrote a book about French cathedrals. He owned a work by the as-yet-unrecognized Van Gogh, and admired the forgotten El Greco.
A plaster of The Age of Bronze
Instead of copying traditional academic postures, Rodin preferred his models to move naturally around his studio (despite their nakedness) Sony VPCEH18FJ/W battery. The sculptor often made quick sketches in clay that were later fine-tuned, cast in plaster, and forged into bronze or carved in marble. Rodin's focus was on the handling of clay. George Bernard Shaw sat for a portrait and gave an idea of Rodin's technique: "While he worked, he achieved a number of miracles. At the end of the first fifteen minutes, after having given a simple idea of the human form to the block of claySony VPCEH18FJ/P battery, he produced by the action of his thumb a bust so living that I would have taken it away with me to relieve the sculptor of any further work." He described the evolution of his bust over a month, passing through "all the stages of art's evolution": first, a "Byzantine masterpiece", then "Bernini intermingled", then an elegant Houdon. "The hand of Rodin worked not as the hand of a sculptor works, but as the work of Elan Vital. The Hand of God is his own hand." Sony VPCEH18FJ/B battery
After he completed his work in clay, he employed highly-skilled assistants to re-sculpt his compositions at larger sizes (including any of his large-scale monuments such as the Thinker), to cast the clay compositions into plaster or bronze, and to carve his marbles. Rodin's major innovation was to capitalize on such multi-staged processes of nineteenth century sculpture and their reliance on plaster castingSony VPCEH18FH/P battery. Since clay deteriorates rapidly if not kept wet or fired into a terra-cotta, sculptors used plaster casts as a means of securing the composition they would make out of the fugitive material that is clay. This was common practice amongst Rodin's contemporaries, and sculptors would exhibit plaster casts with the hopes that they would be commissioned to have the works made in a more permanent materialSony VPCEH18FG/L battery. Rodin, however, would have multiple plasters made and treat them as the raw material of sculpture, recombining their parts and figures into new compositions, and new names. As Rodin's practice developed into the 1890s, he became more and more radical in his pursuit of fragmentation, the combination of figures at different scales, and the making of new compositions from his earlier work. A prime example of this is the bold Walking Man (1899–1900) Sony VPCEH18FF/B battery, which was exhibited as his major one-person show in 1900. This is composed of two sculptures from the 1870s that Rodin found in his studio — a broken and damaged torso that had fallen into neglect and the lower extremities of a statuette version of his 1878 St. John the Baptist Preaching he was having re-sculpted at a reduced scale. Without finessing the join between upper and lowerSony VPCEH18FA/B battery, between torso and legs, Rodin created a work that many sculptors at the time and subsequently have seen as one of his strongest and most singular works. This is despite the fact that the object conveys two different styles, exhibits two different attitudes toward finish, and lacks any attempt to hide the arbitrary fusion of these two componentsSony VPCEH17FJ/W battery. It was the freedom and creativity with which Rodin used these practices — along with his activation surfaces of sculptures through traces of his own touch and with his more open attitude toward bodily pose, sensual subject matter, and non-realistic surface — that marked Rodin's re-making of traditional 19th century sculptural techniques into the prototype for modern sculptureSony VPCEH17FG/W battery.
A portrait of Rodin by his friend Alphonse Legros
By 1900, Rodin's artistic reputation was entrenched. Gaining exposure from a pavilion of his artwork set up near the 1900 World's Fair (Exposition Universelle) in Paris, he received requests to make busts of prominent people internationally, while his assistants at the atelier produced duplicates of his works. His income from portrait commissions alone totalled probably 200,000 francs a year. Sony VPCEH17FG/P batteryAs Rodin's fame grew, he attracted many followers, including the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and authors Octave Mirbeau, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and Oscar Wilde. Rilke stayed with Rodin in 1905 and 1906, and did administrative work for him; he would later write a laudatory monograph on the sculptor. Rodin and Beuret's modest country estate in Meudon, purchased in 1897, was a host to such visitors as King Edward, dancer Isadora DuncanSony VPCEH17FG/L battery, and harpsichordist Wanda Landowska. Rodin moved to the city in 1908, renting the main floor of the Hôtel Biron, an 18th-century townhouse. He left Beuret in Meudon, and began an affair with the American-born Duchesse de Choiseul.
Rodin and America
While Rodin was beginning to be accepted in France by the time of The Burghers of Calais, he had not yet conquered the American market and because of his technique and the frankness of some of his workSony VPCEH17FG/B battery, he did not have an easy time selling his work to American industrialists. Fortunately, he came to know Sarah Tyson Hallowell (1846–1924), a curator from Chicago who visited Paris to arrange exhibitions at the large Interstate Expositions of the 1870s and 1880s. Hallowell was not only a curator but an adviser and a facilitator who was trusted by a number of prominent American collectors to suggest works for their collectionsSony VPCEH16EN/B battery, the most prominent of these being the Chicago hotelier Potter Palmer and his wife, Bertha Palmer (1849–1918). The next opportunity for Rodin in America was the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Hallowell wanted to help promote Rodin's work and he suggested a solo exhibition, which she wrote him was beaucoup moins beau que l'original but impossible, outside the rules. Instead, she suggested he send a number of works for her loan exhibition of French art from American collections and she told him she would list them as being part of an American collectionSony VPCEH16EH/W battery. Rodin sent Hallowell three works, Cupid and Psyche, Sphinx and Andromeda. All nudes, these works provoked great controversy and were ultimately hidden behind a drape with special permission given for viewers to see them. Fortunately, Bust of Dalou and Burgher of Calais were on display in the official French pavilion at the fair and so between the works that were on display and those that were not, he was noticedSony VPCEH16EG/W battery. However, the works he gave Hallowell to sell found no takers, but she soon brought the controversial Quaker-born financier Charles Yerkes (1837–1905) into the fold and he purchased two large marbles for his Chicago manse; Yerkes was likely the first American to own a Rodin sculpture. Other collectors soon followed including the tastemaking Potter Palmers of Chicago and Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840–1924) of Boston, all arranged by Sarah HallowellSony VPCEH16EF/B battery. In appreciation for her efforts at unlocking the American market, Rodin eventually presented Hallowell with a bronze, a marble and a terra cotta. When Hallowell moved to Paris in 1893, she and Rodin continued their warm friendship and correspondence, which lasted to the end of the sculptor's life. After Hallowell's death, her niece, the painter Harriet HallowellSony VPCEH16EA/P battery, inherited the Rodin's and after her death, the American heirs could not manage to match their value in order to export them, so they became the property of the French state.
After the turn of the century, Rodin was a regular visitor to Great Britain, where he developed a loyal following by the beginning of the First World War. He first visited England in 1881, where his friend, the artist Alphonse Legros, had introduced him to the poet William Ernest HenleySony VPCEH15EN/W battery. With his personal connections and enthusiasm for Rodin's art, Henley was most responsible for Rodin's reception in Britain. (Rodin later returned the favor by sculpting a bust of Henley that was used as the frontispiece to Henley's collected works and, after his death, on his monument in London. Through Henley, Rodin met Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Browning, in whom he found further supportSony VPCEH15EG/B battery. Encouraged by the enthusiasm of British artists, students, and high society for his art, Rodin donated a significant selection of his works to the nation in 1914.
Rodin in 1914
After the revitalization of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1890, Rodin served as the body's vice-president. In 1903, Rodin was elected president of the International Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers. He replaced its former presidentSony VPCEH13FX/W battery, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, upon Whistler's death. His election to the prestigious position was largely due to the efforts of Albert Ludovici, father of English philosopher Anthony Ludovici.
During his later creative years, Rodin's work turned increasingly toward the female form, and themes of more overt masculinity and femininity. He concentrated on small dance studies, and produced numerous erotic drawingsSony VPCEH13FX/P battery, sketched in a loose way, without taking his pencil from the paper or his eyes from the model. Rodin met American dancer Isadora Duncan in 1900, attempted to seduce her, and the next year sketched studies of her and her students. In July 1906, Rodin was also enchanted by dancers from the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, and produced some of his most famous drawings from the experienceSony VPCEH13FX/L battery.
Fifty-three years into their relationship, Rodin married Rose Beuret. The wedding was 29 January 1917, and Beuret died two weeks later, on 16 February. Rodin was ill that year; in January, he suffered weakness from influenza, and on 16 November his physician announced that "congestion of the lungs has caused great weaknessSony VPCEH13FX/B battery. The patient's condition is grave." Rodin died the next day, age 77, at his villa in Meudon, Île-de-France, on the outskirts of Paris. A cast of The Thinker was placed next to his tomb in Meudon; it was Rodin's wish that the figure serve as his headstone and epitaph. In 1923, Marcell Tirel, Rodin's secretary, published a book alleging that Rodin's death was largely due to cold, and the fact that he had no heat at MeudonSony VPCCA3SFX/R battery. Rodin requested permission to stay in the Hotel Biron, a museum of his works, but the director of the museum refused to let him stay there.
The grounds of Musée Rodin
Rodin willed to the French state his studio and the right to make casts from his plasters. Because he encouraged the edition of his sculpted work, Rodin's sculptures are represented in many public and private collections. The Musée Rodin was founded in 1916 and opened in 1919 at the Hôtel Biron, where Rodin had lived, and it holds the largest Rodin collectionSony VPCCA3S1E battery, with more than 6,000 sculptures and 7,000 works on paper. The relative ease of making reproductions has also encouraged many forgeries: a survey of expert opinion placed Rodin in the top ten most-faked artists. Rodin fought against forgeries of his works as early as 1901, and since his death, many cases of organized, large-scale forgeries have been revealed. A massive forgery was discovered by French authorities in the early 1990s and led to the conviction of art dealer Guy Hain. Sony VPCCA3E1E battery
To deal with the complexity of bronze reproduction, France has promulgated several laws since 1956 which limit reproduction to twelve casts—the maximum number that can be made from an artist's plasters and still be considered his work. As a result of this limit, The Burghers of Calais, for example, is found in fourteen cities. Sony VPCCA38EC/R battery
The Thinker (1879–1889) is among the most recognized works in all of sculpture.
In the market for sculpture, plagued by fakes, the value of a piece increases significantly when its provenance can be established. A Rodin work with a verified history sold for US$4.8 million in 1999, and Rodin's bronze Eve, grand modele—version sans rocher sold for $18.9 million at a 2008 Christie's auction in New York. Sony VPCCA38EC batteryArt critics concerned about authenticity have argued that taking a cast does not equal reproducing a Rodin sculpture—especially given the importance of surface treatment in Rodin's work.
During his lifetime, Rodin was compared to Michelangelo, and was widely recognized as the greatest artist of the era. In the three decades following his death, his popularity waned with changing aesthetic valuesSony VPCCA37EC/B battery. Since the 1950s, Rodin's reputation has re-ascended; he is recognized as the most important sculptor of the modern era, and has been the subject of much scholarly work. The sense of incompletion offered by some of his sculpture, such as The Walking Man, influenced the increasingly abstract sculptural forms of the 20th century. Sony VPCCA37EC battery Though highly honoured for his artistic accomplishments, Rodin did not spawn a significant, lasting school of followers. His notable students included Antoine Bourdelle, Charles Despiau, the American Malvina Hoffman, and his mistress Camille Claudel, whose sculpture received praise in France. The French order Légion d'honneur made him a Commander, and he received an honorary doctorate from the University of OxfordSony VPCCA36FW/W battery.
Rodin restored an ancient role of sculpture—to capture the physical and intellectual force of the human subject—and he freed sculpture from the repetition of traditional patterns, providing the foundation for greater experimentation in the 20th century. His popularity is ascribed to his emotion-laden representations of ordinary men and women—Sony VPCCA36FW/B batteryto his ability to find the beauty and pathos in the human animal. His most popular works, such as The Kiss and The Thinker, are widely used outside the fine arts as symbols of human emotion and character.
Vincent Willem van Gogh (UK /ˌvæn ˈɡɒx/, US /ˌvæn ˈɡoʊ/;[note 1] Dutch: [vɑŋ ˈɣɔχ] ( listen); 30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold colorSony VPCCA36FH/W battery, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness,  he died at the age of 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted (although no gun was ever found).[note 2] His work was then known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer stillSony VPCCA36FG/B battery.
Van Gogh began to draw as a child, and he continued to draw throughout the years that led up to his decision to become an artist. He did not begin painting until his late twenties, completing many of his best-known works during the last two years of his life. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and printsSony VPCCA36FA/B battery. His work included self portraits, landscapes, still lifes of flowers, portraits and paintings of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers.
Van Gogh spent his early adulthood working for a firm of art dealers, traveling between The Hague, London and Paris, after which he taught for a time in England. One of his early aspirations was to become a pastor and from 1879 he worked as a missionary in a mining region in Belgium where he began to sketch people from the local communitySony VPCCA36EC/W battery. In 1885, he painted his first major work The Potato Eaters. His palette at the time consisted mainly of somber earth tones and showed no sign of the vivid coloration that distinguished his later work. In March 1886, he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists. Later, he moved to the south of France and was impacted by the strong sunlight he found thereSony VPCCA36EC battery. His work grew brighter in color, and he developed the unique and highly recognizable style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles in 1888.
The extent to which his mental health affected his painting has been a subject of speculation since his death. Despite a widespread tendency to romanticize his ill health, modern critics see an artist deeply frustrated by the inactivity and incoherence brought about by his bouts of illnessSony VPCCA35FW/W battery. According to art critic Robert Hughes, van Gogh's late works show an artist at the height of his ability, completely in control and "longing for concision and grace".
See also: The Letters of Vincent van Gogh
Vincent c. 1871–1872 aged 18. This photograph was taken at the time when he was working at the branch of Goupil & Cie's gallery at The Hague.
Theo in 1888 at 31. Theo was a life-long supporter and friend to his brother. The two are buried together at Auvers-sur-Oise.
The most comprehensive primary source for the understanding of van Gogh as an artist is the collection of letters between him and his younger brother, art dealer Theo van Gogh. Sony VPCCA35FW/B battery They lay the foundation for most of what is known about the thoughts and beliefs of the artist. Theo provided his brother with both financial and emotional support. Their lifelong friendship, and most of what is known of van Gogh's thoughts and theories of art, is recorded in the hundreds of letters they exchanged between 1872 and 1890: more than 600 from Vincent to Theo and 40 from Theo to VincentSony VPCCA35FN/R battery.
Although many are undated, art historians have generally been able to put them in chronological order. Problems remain, mainly in dating those from Arles although it is known that during that period, van Gogh wrote 200 letters to friends in Dutch, French and English. The period when Vincent lived in Paris is the most difficult for historians to analyze because the brothers lived together and had no need to correspond. Sony VPCCA35FH/D battery
In addition to letters to and from Theo, other surviving documents include those to Van Rappard, Émile Bernard, van Gogh's sister Wil and her friend Line Kruysse. The letters were first annotated in 1913 by Theo's widow Johanna van Gogh-Bonger who explained that she published them with 'trepidation' because she did not want the drama in the artist's life to overshadow his workSony VPCCA35FG/PI battery. Van Gogh himself was an avid reader of other artists' biographies and expected their lives to be in keeping with the character of their art.
Main article: Vincent van Gogh chronology
See also: Van Gogh's family in his art
Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 in Groot-Zundert, a village close to Breda in the province of North Brabant in the south of the Netherlands, a predominantly Catholic area. He was the oldest child of Theodorus van Gogh, a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, and Anna Cornelia Carbentus. Vincent was given the name of his grandfatherSony VPCCA35FF/P battery, and of a brother stillborn exactly a year before his birth.[note 3] The practice of reusing a name was not unusual. Vincent was a common name in the Van Gogh family: his grandfather, Vincent (1789–1874), had received his degree of theology at the University of Leiden in 1811. Grandfather Vincent had six sons, three of whom became art dealers, including another Vincent who was referred to in van Gogh's letters as "Uncle Cent"Sony VPCCA35FA/PI battery. Grandfather Vincent had perhaps been named in turn after his own father's uncle, the successful sculptor Vincent van Gogh (1729–1802). Art and religion were the two occupations to which the Van Gogh family gravitated. His brother Theodorus "Theo" was born on 1 May 1857. He had another brother, Cor, and three sisters: Elisabeth, Anna and Willemina "Wil".Sony VPCCA2Z0E battery
Vincent c. 1866, approx. age 13
As a child, Vincent was serious, silent and thoughtful. He attended the Zundert village school from 1860, where the single Catholic teacher taught around 200 pupils. From 1861, he and his sister Anna were taught at home by a governess, until 1 October 1864, when he went to Jan Provily's boarding school at Zevenbergen about 20 miles (32 km) awaySony VPCCA2SFX/R battery. He was distressed to leave his family home as he recalled later as an adult. On 15 September 1866, he went to the new middle school, Willem II College in Tilburg. Constantijn C. Huysmans, a successful artist in Paris, taught van Gogh to draw at the school and advocated a systematic approach to the subject. Vincent's interest in art began at an early age. He began to draw as a child and continued making drawings throughout the years leading to his decision to become an artistSony VPCCA2S1E battery. Though well-done and expressive, his early drawings do not approach the intensity he developed in his later work. In March 1868, van Gogh abruptly left school and returned home. A later comment on his early years was in an 1883 letter to Theo in which he wrote, "My youth was gloomy and cold and sterile".
In July 1869, his uncle Cent helped him obtain a position with the art dealer Goupil & Cie in The HagueSony VPCCA2S0E battery. After his training, in June 1873, Goupil transferred him to London, where he lodged at 87 Hackford Road, Brixton, and worked at Messrs. Goupil & Co., 17 Southampton Street. This was a happy time for Vincent; he was successful at work and was, at 20, earning more than his father. Theo's wife later remarked that this was the happiest year of Vincent's life. He fell in love with his landlady's daughterSony VPCCA2AJ battery, Eugénie Loyer, but when he finally confessed his feelings to her, she rejected him, saying that she was secretly engaged to a former lodger. He became increasingly isolated and fervent about religion; his father and uncle arranged for him to be transferred to Paris, where he became resentful at how art was treated as a commodity, a fact apparent to customers. On 1 April 1876, Goupil terminated his employment. Sony VPCCA1S3C/CN1 battery
Van Gogh returned to England for unpaid work as a supply teacher in a small boarding school overlooking the harbor in Ramsgate, where he made sketches of the view. When the proprietor of the school relocated to Isleworth, Middlesex, van Gogh moved with him, taking the train to Richmond and the remainder of the journey on foot. The arrangement did not work out and he left to became a Methodist minister's assistantSony VPCCA1S2C/CN1 battery, following his wish to "preach the gospel everywhere." At Christ
Van Gogh's religious zeal grew until he felt he had found his true vocation. To support his effort to become a pastor his family sent him to Amsterdam to study theology in May 1877, where he stayed with his uncle Jan van Gogh, a naval Vice Admiral. Vincent prepared for the entrance exam with his uncle Johannes Stricker; a respected theologian who published the first "Life of Jesus" in the Netherlands. Van Gogh failed the examSony VPCCA1S1E/P battery, and left his uncle Jan's house in July 1878. He then undertook, but failed, a three-month course at the Vlaamsche Opleidingsschool, a Protestant missionary school in Laeken, near Brussels.
The house where Van Gogh stayed in Cuesmes in 1880; while living here he decided to become an artist
In January 1879, he took a temporary post as a missionary in the village of Petit Wasmes[note 5] in the coal-mining district of Borinage in BelgiumSony VPCCA1S1E/G battery. Taking Christianity to what he saw as its logical conclusion, van Gogh lived like those he preached to, sleeping on straw in a small hut at the back of the baker's house where he was staying. The baker's wife reported hearing van Gogh sobbing at night in the hut. His choice of squalid living conditions did not endear him to the appalled church authorities, who dismissed him for "undermining the dignity of the priesthood." Sony VPCCA1S1E/D battery He then walked to Brussels, returned briefly to the village of Cuesmes in the Borinage but gave in to pressure from his parents to return home to Etten. He stayed there until around March the following year,[note 6] a cause of increasing concern and frustration for his parents. There was particular conflict between Vincent and his father; Theodorus made inquiries about having his son committed to the lunatic asylum at Geel. Sony VPCCA1S1E/B battery
He returned to Cuesmes where he lodged with a miner named Charles Decrucq until October. Increasingly interested in the people and scenes around him, van Gogh recorded his time there in his drawings and followed Theo's suggestion that he should take up art in earnest. He traveled to Brussels that autumn intending to follow Theo's recommendation to study with the prominent Dutch artist Willem Roelofs, who persuaded himSony VPCCA1S1E battery, in spite of his aversion to formal schools of art, to attend the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, where he registered on 15 November 1880. At the Académie, he studied anatomy and the standard rules of modeling and perspective, about which he said, "...you have to know just to be able to draw the least thing." Van Gogh aspired to become an artist in God's serviceSony VPCCA1S1C/CN1 battery, stating: "...to try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God; one man wrote or told it in a book; another in a picture."
Etten, Drenthe and The Hague
See also: Early works of Vincent van Gogh
Annotated by the artist in ink at lower left: At Eternity's Gate, 1882, lithograph, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art
Kee Vos Stricker with her son Jan c. 1879/1880.
In April 1881, van Gogh moved to the Etten countryside with his parents where he continued drawing, often using neighbors as subjects. Through the summer he spent time walking and talking with his recently widowed cousin, Kee Vos-StrickerSony VPCCA1C5E battery, the daughter of his mother's older sister and Johannes Stricker, with whom he stayed in Amsterdam in 1878. Kee, who had an eight-year-old son, was seven years older than van Gogh. He proposed marriage, but she refused with the words, "No, nay, never," ("nooit, neen, nimmer"). Late that November, van Gogh wrote a strongly worded letter to JohannesSony VPCCA1AHJ battery, and then hurried to Amsterdam where he spoke with him on several occasions. Kee refused to see him, and her parents wrote, "Your persistence is disgusting." In desperation, he held his left hand in the flame of a lamp, with the words "Let me see her for as long as I can keep my hand in the flame." He did not recall the event well, but later assumed that his uncle blew out the flameSony VPCCA1AGJ battery. Kee's father made it clear to him that Kee's refusal should be heeded and that the two would not be married because of van Gogh's inability to support himself. Van Gogh's perception of his uncle and former tutor's hypocrisy affected him deeply and put an end to his religious faith forever. That Christmas he refused to go to church, quarreling violently with his father as a result and leading him to leave home the same day for The Hague. Sony VPCCA1AFJ battery
Rooftops, View from the Atelier The Hague, 1882, watercolour, Private collection.
In January 1882, he settled in The Hague where he called on his cousin-in-law, Anton Mauve (1838–88) who was a Dutch realist painter and a leading member of the Hague School. Mauve introduced him to painting in both oil and watercolor and lent him money to set up a studio but the two soon fell out, possibly over the issue of drawing from plaster casts. Sony VPCCA190 battery Mauve appears to have suddenly gone cold towards van Gogh and did not return a number of his letters. Van Gogh supposed that he had learned of his new domestic arrangement with an alcoholic prostitute, Clasina Maria "Sien" Hoornik (1850–1904) and her young daughter. He had met Sien towards the end of January when she had a five-year-old daughter and was pregnant. She had already borne two children who had died, although van Gogh was unaware of thisSony VPCCA18EC/D battery. On 2 July, she gave birth to a baby boy, Willem. When van Gogh's father discovered the details of their relationship, he put considerable pressure on his son to abandon Sien and her children, although Vincent at first defied him.
Van Gogh's uncle Cornelis, an art dealer, commissioned 12 ink drawings of views of the city, which van Gogh completed soon after arriving in The Hague, along with a further seven drawings that May. In June, he spent three weeks in a hospital suffering from gonorrheaSony VPCCA18EC battery. During the summer he began to paint in oil. In autumn 1883, after a year together, he left Sien and the two children. He had thought of moving the family out of the city but in the end made the break. It is possible that lack of money pushed Sien back to prostitution—the home became less happy, and van Gogh may have felt family life was irreconcilable with his artistic development. When he left, Sien gave her daughter to her mother and baby Willem to her brotherSony VPCCA17FX/G battery. She then moved to Delft, and later to Antwerp. Willem remembered being taken to visit his mother in Rotterdam at around the age of 12, where his uncle tried to persuade Sien to marry in order to legitimize the child. Willem remembered his mother saying, "But I know who the father is. He was an artist I lived with nearly 20 years ago in The Hague. His name was van GoghSony VPCCA17FX/D battery." She then turned to Willem and said "You are called after him." While Willem believed himself van Gogh's son, the timing of his birth makes this unlikely. In 1904, Sien drowned herself in the River Scheldt. Van Gogh moved to the Dutch province of Drenthe, in the northern Netherlands. That December, driven by loneliness, he went to stay with his parents who had been posted to Nuenen, North Brabant. Sony VPCCA17EC/W battery
See also: Still life paintings by Vincent van Gogh (Netherlands)
Nuenen and Antwerp (1883–1886)
The Potato Eaters, 1885, Van Gogh Museum
In Nuenen, van Gogh devoted himself to drawing, and he gave money to boys to bring him birds' nests for subject matter for paintings,[note 8] and he made many sketches and paintings of weavers in their cottages. In autumn 1884, Margot Begemann, a neighbor's daughter and ten years his senior, often joined him on his painting foraysSony VPCCA17EC battery. She fell in love, and he reciprocated—though less enthusiastically. They decided to marry, but the idea was opposed by both families. As a result, Margot took an overdose of strychnine. She was saved when van Gogh rushed her to a nearby hospital. On 26 March 1885, his father died of a heart attack and he grieved deeply at the loss. Sony VPCCA16FW/W battery
Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette, 1885–1886, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum
For the first time, there was interest from Paris in his work. That spring, he completed what is generally considered his first major work, The Potato Eaters, the culmination of several years work painting peasant character studies. In August 1885, his work was exhibited for the first time, in the windows of a paint dealer, Leurs, in The HagueSony VPCCA16FH/B battery. When he was accused of forcing himself on one of his young peasant sitters Gordina de Groot who became pregnant that September,[note 9] the Catholic village priest forbade parishioners from modeling for him. During 1885, he painted several groups of still-life paintings.
From this period, Still-Life with Straw Hat and Pipe and Still-life with Earthen Pot and Clogs are characterized by smooth, meticulous brushwork and fine shading of colorsSony VPCCA16FG/W battery. During his two-year stay in Nuenen, he completed numerous drawings and watercolors and nearly 200 oil paintings. His palette consisted mainly of somber earth tones, particularly dark brown, and he showed no sign of developing the vivid coloration that distinguishes his later, best-known work. When he complained that Theo was not making enough effort to sell his paintings in Paris, his brother wrote backSony VPCCA16FG/B battery, telling him that the paintings were too dark and not in line with the current style of bright Impressionist paintings.
In November 1885, he moved to Antwerp and rented a small room above a paint dealer's shop in the Rue des Images (Lange Beeldekensstraat). He had little money and ate poorly, preferring to spend the money Theo sent on painting materials and models. Bread, coffee and tobacco were his staple intake. In February 1886Sony VPCCA16EC/P battery, he wrote to Theo saying that he could only remember eating six hot meals since May of the previous year. His teeth became loose and painful. While in Antwerp he applied himself to the study of color theory and spent time in museums, particularly studying the work of Peter Paul Rubens, gaining encouragement to broaden his palette to carmine, cobalt and emerald greenSony VPCCA16EC battery. He bought a number of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodcuts in the docklands, and incorporated their style into the background of a number of his paintings. While in Antwerp, van Gogh began to drink absinthe heavily. He was treated by Dr. Amadeus Cavenaile, whose practice was near the docklands,[note 10] possibly for syphilis;[note 11] the treatment of alum irrigation and sitz baths was jotted down by van Gogh in one of his notebooks. Sony VPCCA15FX/W battery Despite his rejection of academic teaching, he took the higher-level admission exams at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, and in January 1886, matriculated in painting and drawing. For most of February, he was ill and run down by overwork, a poor diet and excessive smoking.[note 12]
See also: Japonaiserie (Van Gogh) and Still life paintings by Vincent van Gogh (Paris) Sony VPCCA15FW/W battery
Courtesan (after Eisen), 1887, Van Gogh Museum
The Blooming Plumtree (after Hiroshige), 1887, Van Gogh Museum
Portrait of Père Tanguy, 1887, Musée Rodin
Van Gogh traveled to Paris in March 1886, where he shared Theo's Rue Laval apartment on Montmartre, to study at Fernand Cormon's studio. In June, they took a larger apartment further uphill, at 54 Rue Lepic. Because the brothers had no need to write letters to communicate, little is known about van Gogh's stay in Paris, and less is known about this time than earlier or later periods of his life. Sony VPCCA15FW/P battery In Paris he painted portraits of friends and acquaintances, still-life paintings, views of Le Moulin de la Galette, scenes in Montmartre, Asnières, and along the Seine.
During his stay in Paris, he collected more Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints; he became interested in such works, when in 1885 in Antwerp he used them to decorate the walls of his studio. He collected hundreds of prints, which are visible in the backgrounds of several of his paintingsSony VPCCA15FW/D battery. In his 1887 Portrait of Père Tanguy several can be seen hanging on the wall behind the main figure. In The Courtesan or Oiran (after Kesai Eisen) (1887), van Gogh traced the figure from a reproduction on the cover of the magazine Paris Illustre, which he then graphically enlarged in the painting. His 1888 Plum Tree in Blossom (After Hiroshige) is a vivid example of the admiration he had for the prints he collected. His version is slightly bolder than Hiroshige's original. Sony VPCCA15FW/B battery
After seeing Adolphe Joseph Thomas Monticelli's work at the Galerie Delareybarette, which he admired, van Gogh immediately adopted a brighter palette and a bolder attack, particularly in paintings such as his Seascape at Saintes-Maries (1888). Two years later, in 1890, Vincent and Theo paid to have a book about Monticelli published, and van Gogh bought a number of Monticelli's paintings, adding them to his collectionSony VPCCA15FH/W battery.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Portrait of Vincent van Gogh, 1887, pastel drawing, Van Gogh Museum.
For months, van Gogh worked at Cormon's studio where he frequented the circle of the British-Australian artist John Peter Russell, and met fellow students like Émile Bernard, Louis Anquetin, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec—who painted a portrait of van Gogh with pastel. The group congregated at Julien "Père" Tanguy's paint storeSony VPCCA15FH/P battery; at that time the only place where Paul Cézanne's paintings were displayed. He had easy access to Impressionist works in Paris at the time. In 1886, two large vanguard exhibitions were staged; shows where Neo-Impressionism was first exhibited and seen, with works by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac becoming the talk of the town. Though Theo kept a stock of Impressionist paintings in his gallery on Boulevard Montmarte—by artists including Claude MonetSony VPCCA15FH/L battery, Alfred Sisley, Edgar Degas and Camille Pissarro—van Gogh seemingly had problems acknowledging developments in how artists view and paint their subject matter.
Conflicts arose between the brothers. At the end of 1886 Theo found that living with Vincent was "almost unbearable". By the spring of 1887, they were again at peace, although van Gogh moved to Asnières a northwestern suburb of ParisSony VPCCA15FH/G battery, where he became acquainted with Signac. With Émile Bernard he adopted elements of pointillism, a technique in which a multitude of small colored dots are applied to the canvas that, when seen from a distance, create an optical blend of hues. The style stresses the value of complementary colors—including blue and orange—to form vibrant contrasts that are enhanced when juxtaposed. Sony VPCCA15FH/B battery While in Asnières he painted parks and restaurants and the Seine, including Bridges across the Seine at Asnieres.
In November 1887, Theo and Vincent met and befriended Paul Gauguin who had just arrived in Paris. Towards the end of the year, Vincent arranged an exhibition of paintings by himself, Bernard, Anquetin, and probably Toulouse-Lautrec in the Grand-Bouillon Restaurant du Chalet, 43 Avenue de Clichy, in MontmartreSony VPCCA15FG/W battery. In a contemporary account, Emile Bernard wrote of the event: "On the avenue de Clichy a new restaurant was opened. Vincent used to eat there. He proposed to the manager that an exhibition be held there .... Canvases by Anquetin, by Lautrec, by Koning ...filled the hall....It really had the impact of something new; it was more modern than anything that was made in Paris at that moment."Sony VPCCA15FG/R battery There Bernard and Anquetin sold their first paintings, and van Gogh exchanged work with Gauguin who soon departed to Pont-Aven. Discussions on art, artists and their social situations that started during this exhibition continued and expanded to include visitors to the show like Pissarro and his son Lucien, Signac and Seurat. Finally in February 1888, feeling worn out from life in ParisSony VPCCA15FG/P battery, he left, having painted over 200 paintings during his two years in the city. Only hours before his departure, accompanied by Theo, he paid his first and only visit to Seurat in his atelier (studio).
Artistic breakthrough and final years
Move to Arles (1888–1889)
See also: Langlois Bridge at Arles (Van Gogh series)
The Yellow House, 1888, Van Gogh Museum
Bedroom in Arles, 1888, Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh moved to Arles hoping for refuge; at the time he was ill from drink and suffering from smoker's cough. He arrived on 21 February 1888, and took a room at the Hôtel-Restaurant Carrel, which, idealistically, he had expected to look like one of Hokusai (1760–1849) or Utamaro's (1753–1806) prints. Sony VPCCA15FG/G battery He had moved to the town with thoughts of founding a utopian art colony, and the Danish artist Christian Mourier-Petersen (1858–1945), became his companion for two months. Arles appeared exotic and filthy to van Gogh. In a letter he described it as a foreign country: "The Zouaves, the brothels, the adorable little Arlesiennes going to their First CommunionSony VPCCA15FG/D battery, the priest in his surplice, who looks like a dangerous rhinocerous, the people drinking absinthe, all seem to me creatures from another world". A hundred years later, van Gogh was remembered by 113-year-old Jeanne Calment—who, as a 13 year old, was serving in her uncle's fabric shop where van Gogh wanted to buy some canvas—as "dirty, badly dressed and disagreeable", and "very ugly, ungracious, impolite, sick". She also recalled selling him colored pencils. Sony VPCCA15FG/B battery
He was enchanted by the local landscape and light. His works from the period are richly draped in yellow, ultramarine and mauve. His portrayals of the Arles landscape are informed by his Dutch upbringing; the patchwork of fields and avenues appear flat and lack perspective, but excel in their intensity of color. The vibrant light in Arles excited him, and his newfound appreciation is seen in the range and scope of his workSony VPCCA15FG battery. That March he painted local landscapes using a gridded "perspective frame". Three of these paintings were shown at the annual exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants. In April, he was visited by the American artist Dodge MacKnight, who was living nearby at Fontvieille. On 1 May, he signed a lease for 15 francs a month in the eastern wing of the Yellow House at No. 2 Place LamartineSony VPCCA15FF/W battery. The rooms were unfurnished and uninhabited for some time. He was still at the Hôtel Restaurant Carrel, but the rate charged by the hotel was 5 francs a week, which he found excessive. He disputed the price, took the case to a local arbitrator and was awarded a twelve franc reduction on the total bill.
The Red Vineyard, November 1888, Pushkin Museum, Moscow). Sold to Anna Boch, 1890
The Night Café, 1888, Yale University Art Gallery, New HavenSony VPCCA15FF/P battery
Paul Gauguin's Armchair, 1888, Van Gogh Museum
He moved from the Hôtel Carrel to the Café de la Gare on 7 May, where he became friends with the proprietors, Joseph and Marie Ginoux. Although the Yellow House had to be furnished before he could fully move in, van Gogh was able to utilize it as a studio. Hoping to have a gallery to display his work, his project at this time was a series of paintings including Van Gogh's Chair (1888), Bedroom in Arles (1888) Sony VPCCA15FF/L battery, The Night Café (1888), Cafe Terrace at Night (September 1888), Starry Night Over the Rhone (1888), Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers (1888), all intended to form the décoration for the Yellow House. van Gogh wrote about The Night Café: "I have tried to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad, or commit a crime." Sony VPCCA15FF/G battery
He visited Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer that June where he gave drawing lessons to a Zouave second lieutenant, Paul-Eugène Milliet and painted boats on the sea and the village. MacKnight introduced van Gogh to Eugène Boch, a Belgian painter who stayed at times in Fontvieille, and the two exchanged visits in July. Sony VPCCA15FF/B battery
See also: Hospital in Arles (Van Gogh series)
Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, August 1888, Neue Pinakothek, Munich
The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night, September 1888, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands
Joseph Roulin (The Postman), 1888, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Van Gogh's Chair, 1888, National Gallery, London
When Gauguin agreed to visit Arles, van Gogh hoped for friendship and for his uptopian idea of a collective of artists. While waiting that August he painted sunflowers. When Boch visited again, van Gogh painted a portrait of him, as well as the study The Poet Against a Starry Sky. Boch's sister Anna (1848–1936), also an artist, purchased The Red Vineyard in 1890. Sony VPCCA15FA/W battery
In preparation for Gauguin's visit he bought two beds, on advice from his friend the station's postal supervisor Joseph Roulin, whose portrait he painted, and on 17 September spent the first night in the still sparsely furnished Yellow House. When Gauguin consented to work and live side-by-side in Arles with van Gogh, he started to work on The Décoration for the Yellow HouseSony VPCCA15FA/P battery, probably the most ambitious effort he ever undertook. van Gogh did two chair paintings: Van Gogh's Chair and Gauguin's Chair.
After repeated requests, Gauguin finally arrived in Arles on 23 October. During November, the two painted together. Gauguin painted van Gogh's portrait The Painter of Sunflowers: Portrait of Vincent van Gogh, and uncharacteristicallySony VPCCA15FA/L battery, van Gogh painted some pictures from memory—deferring to Gauguin's ideas in this—as well as his The Red Vineyard. Their first joint outdoor painting exercise produced Les Alyscamps, and was conducted at the Alyscamps.
Paul Gauguin, The Painter of Sunflowers: Portrait of Vincent van Gogh, 1888, Van Gogh Museum, AmsterdamSony VPCCA15FA/G battery.
The two visited Montpellier that December and viewed works in the Alfred Bruyas collection by Courbet and Delacroix in the Musée Fabre, but their relationship began to deteriorate. Van Gogh greatly admired Gauguin, and desperately wanted to be treated as his equal. But Gauguin was arrogant and domineering, a fact that often frustrated the DutchmanSony VPCCA15FA/B battery. They quarreled fiercely about art; van Gogh felt an increasing fear that Gauguin was going to desert him, as a situation he described as one of "excessive tension" reached crisis point.
On 23 December 1888, frustrated and ill, van Gogh confronted Gauguin with a razor blade, but in panic, left and fled to a local brothel. Deeply lonely at the time, he often visited the prostitutes at a brothel on Rue du Bout d'Aeles as his single emotional and sensuous point of contact with other people. While there, he cut off his left earSony VAIO VPCF135Z1E/B battery, though it is often claimed that it was only the lower part of his left earlobe.[note 13] He wrapped the severed ear in newspaper and handed it to a prostitute named Rachel, asking her to "keep this object carefully." He staggered home, where he was later found by Gauguin lying unconscious with his head covered in blood. Sony VAIO VPCF137HG/BI battery
Van Gogh was taken to a hospital and remained in a critical state for several days. He asked for Gauguin continually over the next number of days, but the Frenchman stayed away. Gauguin told one of the policeman attending the case, "Be kind enough, Monsieur, to awaken this man with great care, and if he asks for me tell him I have left for ParisSony VAIO VPCF136FG/BI battery; the sight of me might prove fatal for him." Gauguin wrote of van Gogh, "His state is worse, he wants to sleep with the patients, chase the nurses, and washes himself in the coal bucket. That is to say, he continues the biblical mortifications." Theo—notified by Gauguin—visited, as did both Madame Ginoux and Roulin. Gauguin left Arles and never saw van Gogh again. Sony VAIO VPCF135FG/B batteryIn January 1889, van Gogh returned to the Yellow House, but spent the following month between the hospital and home, suffering from hallucinations and delusions that he was being poisoned. In March, the police closed his house after a petition by 30 townspeople, who called him "fou roux" (the redheaded madman). Paul Signac visited him in the hospital and van Gogh was allowed home in his companySony VAIO VPCF127HG/BI battery. In April, he moved into rooms owned by Dr. Rey, after floods damaged paintings in his own home. Around this time, he wrote, "Sometimes moods of indescribable anguish, sometimes moments when the veil of time and fatality of circumstances seemed to be torn apart for an instant." Two months later he had left Arles and entered an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Sony VAIO VPCF11Z1E battery
Saint-Rémy (May 1889 – May 1890)
Main article: Saint-Paul Asylum, Saint-Rémy (Van Gogh series)
The Starry Night, June 1889, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Sower, 1888, Kröller-Müller Museum
On 8 May 1889, accompanied by his carer, the Reverend Salles, van Gogh committed himself to the hospital at Saint Paul-de-Mausole. A former monastery in Saint-Rémy less than 20 miles (32 km) from Arles, the monastery is located in an area of cornfields, vineyards and olive trees at the time run by a former naval doctor, Dr. Théophile PeyronSony VAIO VPCF11S1E battery. Theo arranged for two small rooms—adjoining cells with barred windows. The second was to be used as a studio.
During his stay, the clinic and its garden became the main subjects of his paintings. He made several studies of the hospital interiors, such as Vestibule of the Asylum and Saint-Remy (September 1889). Some of the work from this time is characterized by swirls—including one of his best-known paintings The Starry Night. Sony VAIO VPCF11M1E/H battery He was allowed short supervised walks, which lead to paintings of cypresses and olive trees, like Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background 1889, Cypresses 1889, Cornfield with Cypresses (1889), Country road in Provence by Night (1890). That September he also produced a further two versions of Bedroom in ArlesSony VAIO VPCF11M1E battery.
Limited access to the world outside the clinic resulted in a shortage of subject matter. He was left to work on interpretations of other artist's paintings, such as Millet’s The Sower and Noon – Rest from Work (after Millet), as well as variations on his own earlier work. Van Gogh was an admirer of the Realism of Jules Breton, Gustave Courbet and MilletSony VAIO VPCF11JFX/B battery and compared his copies to a musician's interpreting Beethoven. Many of his most compelling works date from this period. His The Round of the Prisoners (1890) was painted after an engraving by Gustave Doré (1832–1883). It is suggested that the face of the prisoner in the center of the painting and looking toward the viewer is van Gogh himself, although the noted van Gogh scholar Jan Hulsker discounts this. Sony VAIO VPCF119FJ battery
Towards the end of his stay, van Gogh suffered a severe relapse lasting two month between February and April 1890. Nevertheless he was able to paint and draw a little during this time and he later wrote Theo that he had made a few small canvases "from memory ... reminisces of the North". Amongst these was Two Peasant Women Digging in a Snow-Covered Field at SunsetSony VAIO VPCF119FC/BI battery. Hulsker believes that this small group of paintings formed the nucleus of a large number of drawings and study sheets depicting landscapes and figures that van Gogh worked on during this time. He comments that, save for this short period, van Gogh's illness had hardly any effect on his work but in these he sees a reflection of van Gogh's mental health at the timeSony VAIO VPCF119FC battery. Also belonging to this period is Sorrowing Old Man ('At Eternity's Gate'), a color study that Hulsker describes as "another unmistakable remembrance of times long past".
The Round of the Prisoners, 1890, Pushkin Museum, Moscow
Two Peasant Women Digging in a Snow-Covered Field at Sunset, 1890, Foundation E.G. Bührle Collection, Zurich, Switzerland
Sorrowing Old Man ('At Eternity's Gate'), 1890, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo
In February 1890 he painted five versions of L'Arlésienne (Madame Ginoux), based on a charcoal sketch Gauguin had produced when Madame Ginoux sat for both artists at the beginning of November 1888. Sony VAIO VPCF117HG/BI batteryThe version intended for Madame Ginoux is lost. It was attempting to deliver this painting to Madame Ginoux in Arles that precipitated his February relapse.
His work was praised by Albert Aurier in the Mercure de France in January 1890, when he was described as "a genius". In February invited by Les XX, a society of avant-garde painters in Brussels, he participated in their annual exhibition. At the opening dinner, Les XX member Henry de Groux insulted van Gogh's worksSony VAIO VPCF116FG/BI battery. Toulouse-Lautrec demanded satisfaction, and Signac declared he would continue to fight for van Gogh's honor if Lautrec should surrender. Later, when van Gogh's exhibit was on display with the Artistes Indépendants in Paris, Monet said that his work was the best in the show. In February 1890, following the birth of his nephew Vincent Willem, he wrote in a letter to his mother, that with the new addition to the familySony VAIO VPCF115FG/B battery, he "started right away to make a picture for him, to hang in their bedroom, branches of white almond blossom against a blue sky."
Auvers-sur-Oise (May–July 1890)
See also: Double-squares and Squares
Daubigny's Garden, July 1890, Auvers, Kunstmuseum Basel, one of Van Gogh's late works
In May 1890, van Gogh left the clinic in Saint-Rémy to move nearer the physician Dr. Paul Gachet in Auvers-sur-Oise, and also to Theo. Gachet was recommended by Camille Pissarro, had treated several other artists, and was himself an amateur artist. Van Gogh's first impression was that Gachet was "Sony VAIO VPCF21ZHJ battery...sicker than I am, I think, or shall we say just as much." In June 1890 he painted a number of portraits of the physician, including Portrait of Dr. Gachet, and his only etching; in each the emphasis is on Gachet's melancholic disposition. Van Gogh stayed at the Auberge Ravoux, where he paid 3 francs and 50 centimes to rent an attic room measuring 75 square feet (7.0 m2).
Wheatfield Under Clouded Sky, July 1890, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, (F778), painted in July 1890 during his last weeks.Sony VAIO VPCF21Z1E/BI battery
The Church at Auvers, 1890, Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Portrait of Dr. Gachet, 1890, was sold for US$ 82.5 million in 1990. Private collection
Before he left, In his last weeks at Saint-Rémy, van Gogh's thoughts returned to his "memories of the North", and several of the approximately 70 oils he painted during his 70 days in Auvers-sur-Oise, such as The Church at Auvers, are reminiscent of northern scenesSony VAIO VPCF21AHJ battery.
Wheat Field with Crows (July 1890) is an example of the double square technique he developed in the last weeks of his life. In its turbulent intensity, it is among his most haunting and elemental works. It is often mistakenly believed to be his last work, Hulsker lists seven paintings that postdate it. Sony VAIO VPCF21AGJ battery
Barbizon painter Charles Daubigny had moved to Auvers in 1861, and this in turn drew other artists there, including Camille Corot and Honoré Daumier. In July 1890, van Gogh completed two paintings of Daubigny's Garden; one of these is likely to be his final work. There are also paintings that show evidence of being unfinished, including Thatched Cottages by a Hill.Sony VAIO VPCF21AFJ battery
Main article: Death of Vincent van Gogh
Self-portrait, 1889, Courtauld Institute Galleries, London. Mirror-image self portrait with bandaged ear
Still Life with Absinthe, 1887, Van Gogh Museum
On February 22, 1890, van Gogh suffered a new crisis that was "the starting point for one of the saddest episodes in a life already rife with sad events". This period lasted until the end of April, during which time he was unable to bring himself to write though he did continue to draw and paint. Sony VAIO VPCF219FJ/BI battery Hughes writes that from May 1889 to May 1890 he, "had fits of despair and hallucination during which he could not work, and in between them, long clear months in which he could and did, punctuated by extreme visionary ecstasy."
It is widely understood that on 27 July 1890, aged 37, van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver. Where he was when he shot himself is unclear. Ingo Walther writes that "Some think van Gogh shot himself in the wheat field that had engaged his attention as an artist of lateSony VAIO VPCF217HG/BI battery; others think he did it at a barn near the inn." Biographer David Sweetman writes that the bullet was deflected by a rib bone and passed through his chest without doing apparent damage to internal organs, probably stopped by his spine. He was able to walk back to the Auberge Ravoux. He was attended by two physicians, neither with the capability to perform surgery to remove the bulletSony VAIO VPCF217HG battery, who left him alone in his room, smoking his pipe. The following morning (Monday), as soon as he was notified, Theo rushed to be with Vincent, to find him in surprisingly good shape; within hours, however, he began to fail, the result of untreated infection in the wound. Vincent died in the evening, 29 hours after he shot himself. Theo reported his brother's last words as "The sadness will last forever." Sony VAIO VPCF14ZHJ battery
Vincent and Theo buried together in Auvers-sur-Oise. Vincent's stone bears the inscription: Ici Repose Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), Theo's Ici Repose Theodore van Gogh (1857–1891)
Van Gogh was buried on 30 July in the municipal cemetery of Auvers-sur-Oise at a funeral attended by Theo van Gogh, Andries Bonger, Charles Laval, Lucien Pissarro, Émile Bernard, Julien Tanguy and Dr. Gachet amongst some 20 family and friends, as well as a number of localsSony VAIO VPCF14AHJ battery. The funeral was described by Émile Bernard in a letter to Albert Aurier. Theo suffered from syphilis and his health declined rapidly after Vincent's death. Weak and unable to come to terms with Vincent's absence, he died six months later, on 25 January, at Den Dolder. The original burial plot was leased for 15 years; the intention was to bury Vincent alongside Theo. Vincent's remains were exhumed on 13 June 1905Sony VAIO VPCF14AGJ battery, in the presence of Jo Bonger, Dr. Gachet and others, and relocated, eventually for Theo to be buried beside him. The precise location of the original grave is no longer known. In 1914, the year she had van Gogh's letters published, Jo Bonger had Theo moved from Utrecht and reburied with Vincent.
While many of Vincent's late paintings are somber, they are essentially optimistic and reflect his desire to return to lucid mental health right up to the time of his deathSony VAIO VPCF14AFJ battery. Yet some of his final works reflect his deepening concerns. Referring to his paintings of wheatfields under troubled skies, he commented in a letter to his brother Theo: "I did not have to go out of my way very much in order to try to express sadness and extreme loneliness." Nevertheless, he adds in the same paragraph: " ... these canvases will tell you what I cannot say in words, that is, how healthy and invigorating I find the countryside".Sony VAIO VPCF149FJ/BI battery
There has been much debate over the years as to the source of van Gogh's illness and its effect on his work. Over 150 psychiatrists have attempted to label its root, with some 30 different diagnoses. Diagnoses include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, syphilis, poisoning from swallowed paints, temporal lobe epilepsy and acute intermittent porphyriaSony VAIO VPCF148FJ/B battery. Any of these could have been the culprit and been aggravated by malnutrition, overwork, insomnia and consumption of alcohol, especially absinthe.
In Van Gogh: the Life, a biography published in 2011, authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith argue that van Gogh did not commit suicide. They contend that he was shot accidentally by two boys he knew who had “a malfunctioning gun”. However experts at the Van Gogh Museum remain unconvinced. Sony VAIO VPCF13ZHJ battery
The Old Mill, 1888, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888, Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background, 1889, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Main article: List of works by Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh drew and painted with watercolors while at school; few of these works survive and authorship is challenged on some of those that do. When he committed to art as an adult, he began at an elementary level, copying the Cours de dessin, a drawing course edited by Charles Bargue. Within two years he had begun to seek commissionsSony VAIO VPCF13Z0E/B battery. In spring 1882, his uncle, Cornelis Marinus, owner of a well-known gallery of contemporary art in Amsterdam, asked him for drawings of the Hague. Van Gogh's work did not live up to his uncle's expectations. Marinus offered a second commission, this time specifying the subject matter in detail, but was once again disappointed with the result. Nevertheless, van Gogh perseveredSony VAIO VPCF13M8E/B battery. He improved the lighting of his studio by installing variable shutters and experimented with a variety of drawing materials. For more than a year he worked on single figures—highly elaborated studies in "Black and White", which at the time gained him only criticism. Today, they are recognized as his first masterpieces.
White House at Night, 1890, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, painted six weeks before the artist's deathSony VAIO VPCF13AHJ battery
Early in 1883, he began to work on multi-figure compositions, which he based on his drawings. He had some of them photographed, but when his brother remarked that they lacked liveliness and freshness, he destroyed them and turned to oil painting. By Autumn 1882, his brother had enabled him financially to turn out his first paintingsSony VAIO VPCF13AGJ battery, but all the money Theo could supply was soon spent. Then, in spring 1883, van Gogh turned to renowned Hague School artists like Weissenbruch and Blommers, and received technical support from them, as well as from painters like De Bock and Van der Weele, both second generation Hague School artists. When he moved to Nuenen after the intermezzo in Drenthe he began a number of large-sized paintings but destroyed most of themSony VAIO VPCF13AFJ battery. The Potato Eaters and its companion pieces—The Old Tower on the Nuenen cemetery and The Cottage—are the only ones to have survived. Following a visit to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh was aware that many of his faults were due to lack of technical experience. So in November 1885 he traveled to Antwerp and later to Paris to learn and develop his skill. Sony VAIO VPCF138FJ/BI battery
More or less acquainted with Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist techniques and theories, van Gogh went to Arles to develop these new possibilities. But within a short time, older ideas on art and work reappeared: ideas such as working with serial imagery on related or contrasting subject matter, which would reflect on the purposes of art. As his work progressed, he painted many Self-portraitsSony VAIO VPCF138FJ/B battery. Already in 1884 in Nuenen he had worked on a series that was to decorate the dining room of a friend in Eindhoven. Similarly in Arles, in spring 1888 he arranged his Flowering Orchards into triptychs, began a series of figures that found its end in The Roulin Family series, and finally, when Gauguin had consented to work and live in Arles side-by-side with Van Gogh, he started to work on The Décorations for the Yellow HouseSony VAIO VPCF138FC/BI battery, which was by some accounts the most ambitious effort he ever undertook. Most of his later work is involved with elaborating on or revising its fundamental settings. In the spring of 1889, he painted another, smaller group of orchards. In an April letter to Theo, he said, "I have 6 studies of Spring, two of them large orchards. There is little time because these effects are so short-lived." Sony VAIO VPCF135FG battery
Art historian Albert Boime believes that van Gogh—even in seemingly fantastical compositions like Starry Night—based his work in reality. The White House at Night, shows a house at twilight with a prominent star surrounded by a yellow halo in the sky. Astronomers at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos calculated that the star is Venus, which was bright in the evening sky in June 1890 when Van Gogh is believed to have painted the picture. Sony VAIO VPCF12AHJ battery
See also: Self-portraits by Vincent van Gogh
Self-Portrait, Spring 1887, Oil on pasteboard, 42 × 33.7 cm., Art Institute of Chicago (F 345).
Self-Portrait, September 1889, (F 627), Oil on canvas, 65 cm × 54 cm. Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
Self-portrait without beard, end September 1889, (F 525), Oil on canvas, 40 × 31 cm., Private collection. This was Van Gogh's last self portrait, given as a birthday gift to his mother. Sony VAIO VPCF12AGJ battery
Self-portrait, 1889, National Gallery of Art. All self-portraits executed in Saint-Rémy show the artist's head from the right, i.e. the side with the unmutilated ear, since he painted himself as he saw himself in the mirror.
Van Gogh created many self-portraits during his lifetime. He was a prolific self-portraitist, who painted himself 37 times between 1886 and 1889. In all, the gaze of the painter is seldom directed at us; even when it is a fixed gaze, he appears to look elsewhereSony VAIO VPCF12AFJ battery. The paintings vary in intensity and color and some portray the artist with beard, some beardless, some with bandages—depicting the episode in which he severed his ear. Self-portrait Without Beard, from late September 1889, is one of the most expensive paintings of all time, selling for $71.5 million in 1998 in New York. At the time, it was the third (or an inflation-adjusted fourth) most expensive painting ever soldSony VAIO VPCF129FJ/BI battery. It was also van Gogh's last self-portrait, given as a birthday gift to his mother.
All of the self-portraits painted in Saint-Rémy show the artist's head from the right, the side opposite his mutilated ear, as he painted himself reflected in his mirror. During the final weeks of his life in Auvers-sur-Oise, he produced many paintings, but no self-portraits, a period in which he returned to painting the natural world. Sony VAIO VPCF128FJ/B battery
See also: Portraits by Vincent van Gogh and Paintings of Children (Van Gogh series)
L'Arlesienne: Madame Ginoux with Books, November 1888. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York (F488).
Patience Escalier, second version August 1888, Private collection (F444)
La Mousmé, 1888, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Le Zouave (half-figure), June 1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (F423)
Van Gogh, known for his landscapes, seemed to find painting portraits his greatest ambition. He said of portrait studies, "The only thing in painting that excites me to the depths of my soul, and which makes me feel the infinite more than anything else." Sony VAIO VPCF127FJ/W battery
To his sister he wrote, "I should like to paint portraits which appear after a century to people living then as apparitions. By which I mean that I do not endeavor to achieve this through photographic resemblance, but my means of our impassioned emotions—that is to say using our knowledge and our modern taste for color as a means of arriving at the expression and the intensification of the character." Sony VAIO VPCF11ZHJ battery
Of painting portraits, van Gogh wrote: "in a picture I want to say something comforting as music is comforting. I want to paint men and women with that something of the eternal which the halo used to symbolize, and which we seek to communicate by the actual radiance and vibration of our coloring." Sony VAIO VPCF11AHJ battery
See also: Olive Trees (series)
One of the most popular and widely known series of van Gogh's paintings are his Cypresses. During the Summer of 1889, at sister Wil's request, he made several smaller versions of Wheat Field with Cypresses. The works are characterised by swirls and densely painted impasto—and produced one of his best-known paintings—The Starry NightSony VAIO VPCF11AGJ battery. Other works from the series have similar stylistic elements including Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background (1889) Cypresses (1889), Cypresses with Two Figures (1889–1890), Wheat Field with Cypresses (1889), (van Gogh made several versions of this painting that year), Road with Cypress and Star (1890), and Starry Night Over the Rhone (1888). These have become synonymous with van Gogh's work through their stylistic uniquenessSony VAIO VPCF11AFJ battery. According to art historian Ronald Pickvance,
Road with Cypress and Star, May 1890, Kröller-Müller Museum.
Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889, National Gallery, London.
Cypresses, 1889, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Cypresses with Two Figures, 1889–90, Kröller-Müller Museum (F620).
Road with Cypress and Star (1890), is compositionally as unreal and artificial as the Starry Night. Pickvance goes on to say the painting Road with Cypress and Star represents an exalted experience of reality, a conflation of North and SouthSony VAIO VPCF118FJ battery, what both van Gogh and Gauguin referred to as an "abstraction". Referring to Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background, on or around 18 June 1889, in a letter to Theo, he wrote, "At last I have a landscape with olives and also a new study of a Starry Night."
Hoping to also have a gallery for his work, his major project at this time was a series of paintings including Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers (1888), and Starry Night Over the Rhone (1888) that all intended to form the décorations for the Yellow House. Sony VAIO VPCF117FJ battery
See also: Flowering Orchards
Cherry Tree, 1888, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
View of Arles, Flowering Orchards, 1889, Neue Pinakothek.
The series of Flowering Orchards, sometimes referred to as the Orchards in Blossom paintings, were among the first groups of work that van Gogh completed after his arrival in Arles, Provence in February 1888. The 14 paintings in this group are optimistic, joyous and visually expressive of the burgeoning Springtime. They are delicately sensitive, silent, quiet and unpopulatedSony VAIO VGN-CS33H battery. About The Cherry Tree Vincent wrote to Theo on 21 April 1888 and said he had 10 orchards and: one big (painting) of a cherry tree, which I've spoiled. The following spring he painted another smaller group of orchards, including View of Arles, Flowering Orchards.
Van Gogh was taken by the landscape and vegetation of the South of France, and often visited the farm gardens near Arles. Because of the vivid light supplied by the Mediterranean climate his palette significantly brightened. Sony VAIO VGN-CS33H/Z battery From his arrival, he was interested in capturing the effect of the seasons on the surrounding landscape and plant life.
See also: Sunflowers (series of paintings)
Van Gogh painted several versions of landscapes with flowers, as seen in View of Arles with Irises, and paintings of flowers, including Irises, Sunflowers, lilacs and roses. Some reflect his interests in the language of color, and also in Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock printsSony VAIO VGN-CS33H/B battery.
View of Arles with Irises, 1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
Irises, 1889, Getty Center, Los Angeles
He completed two series of sunflowers: the first while he was in Paris in 1887, and the second during his stay in Arles the following year. The first series shows living flowers in the ground. In the second series, they are dying in vases. The 1888 paintings were created during a rare period of optimism for the artisttml">Sony VAIO VGN-CS31Z/Q battery. He intended them to decorate a bedroom where Gauguin was supposed to stay in Arles that August, when the two would create the community of artists van Gogh had long hoped for. The flowers are rendered with thick brushstrokes (impasto) and heavy layers of paint.
In an August 1888 letter to Theo, he wrote,
"I am hard at it, painting with the enthusiasm of a Marseillais eating bouillabaisse, which won't surprise you when you know that what I'm at is the painting of some sunflowers. If I carry out this idea there will be a dozen panelsSony VAIO VGN-CS31S/W battery. So the whole thing will be a symphony in blue and yellow. I am working at it every morning from sunrise on, for the flowers fade so quickly. I am now on the fourth picture of sunflowers. This fourth one is a bunch of 14 flowers ... it gives a singular effect."
Wheatfield with Crows, 1890, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
See also: Wheat Fields (Van Gogh series) and The Wheat Field
Van Gogh made several painting excursions during visits to the landscape around Arles. He made a number of paintings featuring harvests, wheat fields and other rural landmarks of the area, including The Old Mill (1888) Sony VAIO VGN-CS31S/V battery; a good example of a picturesque structure bordering the wheat fields beyond. It was one of seven canvases sent to Pont-Aven on 4 October 1888 as exchange of work with Paul Gauguin, Emile Bernard, Charles Laval, and others. At various times in his life, van Gogh painted the view from his window—at The Hague, Antwerp, Paris. These works culminated in The Wheat Field series, which depicted the view he could see from his adjoining cells in the asylum at Saint-Rémy. Sony VAIO VGN-CS31S/T battery
Writing in July 1890, van Gogh said that he had become absorbed "in the immense plain against the hills, boundless as the sea, delicate yellow". He had become captivated by the fields in May when the wheat was young and green. The weather worsened in July, and he wrote to Theo of "vast fields of wheat under troubled skies", adding that he did not "need to go out of my way to try and express sadness and extreme loneliness"Sony VAIO VGN-CS31S/R battery.In particular, the work Wheatfield with Crows serves as a compelling and poignant expression of the artist's state of mind in his final days, a painting Hulsker discusses as being associated with "melancholy and extreme loneliness," a painting with a "somber and threatening aspect", a "doom-filled painting with threatening skies and ill-omened crows. Sony VAIO VGN-CS31S/P battery
Main article: Posthumous fame of Vincent van Gogh
Painter on the Road to Tarascon, August 1888, Vincent van Gogh on the road to Montmajour, oil on canvas, 48 × 44 cm., formerly Museum Magdeburg, believed to have been destroyed by fire in World War II
Following his first exhibitions in the late 1880s, van Gogh's fame grew steadily among colleagues, art critics, dealers and collectors. Sony VAIO VGN-CS28 battery After his death, memorial exhibitions were mounted in Brussels, Paris, The Hague and Antwerp. In the early 20th century, there were retrospectives in Paris (1901 and 1905), and Amsterdam (1905), and important group exhibitions in Cologne (1912), New York (1913) and Berlin (1914). These had a noticeable impact on later generations of artists. By the mid 20th century van Gogh was seen as one of the greatest and most recognizable painters in history. Sony VAIO VGN-CS28/Q battery In 2007 a group of Dutch historians compiled the "Canon of Dutch History" to be taught in schools and included van Gogh as one of the fifty topics of the canon, alongside other national icons such as Rembrandt and De Stijl.
Together with those of Pablo Picasso, Van Gogh's works are among the world's most expensive paintings ever sold, as estimated from auctions and private sales. Those sold for over $100 million (today's equivalent) include Portrait of Dr. Gachet, Sony VAIO VGN-CS27 battery Portrait of Joseph Roulin and Irises. A Wheatfield with Cypresses was sold in 1993 for $57 million, a spectacularly high price at the time, while his Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear was sold privately in the late 1990s for an estimated $80/$90 million.
In his final letter to Theo, Vincent admitted that as he did not have any children, he viewed his paintings as his progeny. Reflecting on this, the historian Simon Schama concluded that he "did have a child of course, Expressionism, and many, many heirsSony VAIO VGN-CS27/W battery." Schama mentioned a wide number of artists who have adapted elements of van Gogh's style, including Willem de Kooning, Howard Hodgkin and Jackson Pollock. The Fauves extended both his use of color and freedom in application, as did German Expressionists of the Die Brücke group, and as other early modernists. Abstract Expressionism of the 1940s and 1950s is seen as in part inspired from van Gogh's broadSony VAIO VGN-CS27/R battery, gestural brush strokes. In the words of art critic Sue Hubbard: "At the beginning of the twentieth century Van Gogh gave the Expressionists a new painterly language that enabled them to go beyond surface appearance and penetrate deeper essential truths. It is no coincidence that at this very moment Freud was also mining the depths of that essentially modern domain—the subconsciousSony VAIO VGN-CS27/P battery. This beautiful and intelligent exhibition places Van Gogh where he firmly belongs; as the trailblazer of modern art."
In 1957, Francis Bacon (1909–1992) based a series of paintings on reproductions of van Gogh's The Painter on the Road to Tarascon, the original of which was destroyed during World War II. Bacon was inspired by not only an image he described as "haunting"Sony VAIO VGN-CS27/C battery, but also van Gogh himself, whom Bacon regarded as an alienated outsider, a position which resonated with Bacon. The Irish artist further identified with van Gogh's theories of art and quoted lines written in a letter to Theo, "[R]eal painters do not paint things as they are...They paint them as they themselves feel them to be". An exhibition devoted to Vincent van Gogh's letters took place in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam from October 2009 to January 2010 and then moved to the Royal Academy in London from late January to AprilSony VAIO VGN-CS26T/W battery.