Suffering until the End

“Conscience is a man’s compass”. —Vincent Van Gogh

Over time a clear pattern began to develop’ Vincent began to improve while in Saint¬Remy-de-Provence and then those periods of recovery would be followed by lapses in his mental state. When Vincent became able he continued to paint landscapes from the hospital’ but was often forced to stop when he would lapse into a difficult period of mental health. At one point’ Vincent was so twisted and tangled within his own mental decline that he tried to poison himself with his own paints’ but survived. Vincent Van Gogh saw patterns so frequently that many of his work “attacks” occured while he was outside’ and so he confined himself to places indoors and turned his work away from landscapes such as the now famous series of olive groves and cypress trees. Vincent Van Gogh then started a series of paintings based on the work of artists that he loved’ such as Delacroix and Millet.

Vincent spent much of this time with Theo and his wife Jo as well as their new son after his birth’ it is said that there were times with Theo that Vincent seemed to truly be happy for the first time in his life. It was during these times that Dr. Gachet would believe that Vincent had made a full recovery’ and thought he might very well become a stable individual.

As strange as the timing was’ it was during this time of wild fluctuations between states of mental health that Vincent’s paintings first began to get some attention. Much to his delight’ his Starry Night Over The Rhone and Irises were exhibited at the Salon des Independants. Also’ in September and November Vincent was invited to exhibit six of his works by Octave Maus who worked for the Belgian artist group Les XX. Having his works noticed prompted Vincent to work outdoors once again’ a type of painting that he had always been drawn to’ yet it only lead to another series of attacks and another attempted poisoning. The attempted poisoning just took him away from his work again’ proving to be more of an irritant than a final solution to his pain.

Through this time of recognition for Vincent Van Gogh his brother Theo had come upon hard times. Theo was struggling financially because his son was very ill and Theo’s distress definitely took a toll on Vincent. Though he was very worried about Theo’ Vincent continued to paint some of the most remarkable pieces. It might have been his worry for Theo that inspired his paintings the most around this time.

These days of hospitali2ation in 1890 were an intense period of time for Vincent Van Gogh. He was suffering many panic attacks’ which were truly pushing him over the edge like never before. Only his art calmed Van Gogh during these days of suffering’ and so he began painting at a feverish pace to help control his anxiety and express his emotion. Now’ more than ever Vincent was striving to control his feelings’ and as he always had’ he began to express those emotions through his artwork. So moved by overwhelming emotion’ Vincent was sometimes finishing one painting a day. Some say that his best work came from these days of struggle and panic attacks because he was releasing emotion that he could no longer control or contain. Because Vincent Van Gogh was an emotional painter’ it’s easy to see why these last paintings would show even more of an expression of the man he was’ his struggles’ and his mental health than ever before.
During this time of intense struggle’ Vincent painted eighty paintings in just about two months. This remarkable period of time was filled with days of pure anguish interspersed with days where Vincent felt happy. The ups and downs are depicted in the paintings’ paintings that were painted against the desperation with which he was so familiar.

Though Theo would have never wanted him to feel any guilt or sadness of his willingness to support him’ Vincent could not shake the guilty feelings. Not able to overcome his general sadness and despair’ as well as a distinct feeling that he had robbed his beloved brother of a better life’ Vincent Van Gogh shot himself in the chest in attempt to commit suicide on July 27th’ 1890. Watching Theo suffer due to a stressed financial situation’ Vincent couldn’t help but blame himself’ as his brother had cared for him and supported him for so long. This gun shot to the chest was a final attempt to end his life of suffering and loneliness.

But there was more suffering to be had; as Vincent Van Gogh did not perish the moment he pulled the trigger. Instead’ he struggled to get back to his own home that evening’ telling no one of his deadly condition. Vincent Van Gogh was eventually found in his home and doctors were called. When the doctors arrived they determined that the bullet could not be removed and Theo was called upon immediately.

Doctors knew that with a bullet in his chest there would be just hours or days before Vincent’s life would come to a close. Once Theo arrived’ the hours were much like his life’ going back and forth between a completely natural and normal state of mind and others where he was completely out of his mind with anguish. Because his time was limited’ Theo and Vincent spent these last hours together’ with Vincent in bed smoking a pipe. When the end was obviously near’ the two brothers lay side by side in Vincent’s bed together’ holding onto a life that had deeply intertwined their lives in loving and often maddening ways. In his last moments’ Vincent was held tightly in his brothers arms as he mustered “I wish I could pass away like this” and he did. Vincent died in the arms of the loving brother who had kept him all those years despite his emotional existence and fluctuating mental states. Vincent Van Gogh died early in the morning of July 29′ 1890.

Vincent was memorialized with a funeral shortly thereafter’ and in a befitting farewell’ his casket and grave were covered with dozens of the sunflowers that he had loved so much.
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