Biography of Vincent Van Gogh – Part 3

Life in Arles

Vincent decides to go towards Provenza, the south of France in search of more color and more sun. In February of 1888 with Theo’s help, Vincent arrives at the village of Arles.

Vincent first painted winter scenes, and soon he painted fruit trees in flower, and flowers, mainly sunflowers. The artist also painted simple people, including he himself, painted the city and numerous landscapes. He painted channels with bridges, the shores of the Rhodes river with his boats and the vast fields of the environs.

Vincent Van Gogh was having a good time in Arles, it was a very quiet and relaxing place. But he was feeling lonely, so he rented a house where he could have some guests. He wrote in a letter to his brother his wish to decorate the house with many pretty paintings of flowers and lovely landscapes for when he had some visitors.

Paul Gaugin visited the artist in Arles

Vincent had a big project for the yellow house in Arles. He wanted to create an association of young painters. The yellow house would be the meeting point for all of them, where they could help each other and sell their best work.

Paul Gaugin finally came to stay with Vincent in Arles. They worked together outdoors, influencing each other in their way of painting.

Paul Gaugin was a more organized man who brought to Vincent life a little bit more of estability. Vincent used to drink a lot and visit local brothels frequently. With the visit of Gaugin, this habits lessened. This a extremely good period for Van Gogh in every aspect of his life. Artisticly, this period is of an incredible quality, painting with great sense of light and colour and developing very well his own style.

But soon, the coexistence between Gaugin and Van Gogh started to suffer. Frequents disputes because of the difference of artistic opinion and the frustration of Vincent because Gaugin did not want to start the painters association were the reason of their uncomfortable living situation. Also they both used to fight for the attention of a prostitute.

Who knows the real reason why a fatal night the argument got very hot. It is very possible that both painters where very drank the night of the 24th of December, when the dispute started. The situation got out of control and Gaugin decided to leave Arles fro good after 9 weeks of coexistance. Paul Gaugin went outside to get some fresh air when Vincent driven crazy tried to attack him. What really happened? We will never know for sure. The official version is that Gaugin controlled Van Gogh and left Arles while Van Gogh cut his own ear in the middle of the madness.

There is another version, perhaps more credible in my opinion. Paul Gaugin was an expert in fencing and in the middle of the discussion he sliced off the right ear of Vincent. This has a logical base, since when Paul left Arles took his equipment of fencing with him,but not his luggage, which commands to request in a letter days later. As well was Gaugin who warns Theo, brother of Vincent, of his current situation. Vincent took his cut ear to the brothel, but he recognized to have done it himself.

Theo traveled intermediately to Arles, the doctor said that what happened was a result of alcoholism and schizophrenia. Vincent was entered in a hospital. After he got better he came back, but the neighborhood decided to expel him from the town. So, Vincent had to leave his yellow house in Arles forever.

Saint Paul de Mausole Hospital in Saint Remy.

The 8th of May Vincent entered the Saint-Paul-de-Masonhospital in Saint Remy. Where the doctors insisted in to diagnose the disease of Vincent like epilepsy. The doctors allowed the artist to have two rooms, one of the he used as paint study. Vincent was suffering hallucinations, and he wasn’t recovering as fast as he thought when he decided voluntarily to enter the “prission”, as he would described to his brother in his letters.

Vincent Van Gogh decided to work harder to avoid any spare time in that misery he was feeling in his mind. This is a very intensive period of work. He paints compulsively, sometimes one painting a day. In the letters he sent to Theo he described his enormous loneliness and desperation. He was worried he was going to have another break down, so started to work even harder to send more pictures to his brother so he would not lose his assignation of money. He worked with a total creative fury.

During these period in the hospital Vincent did not have many chances to go outdoors, so he used reproductions in black and white of Delacroix and Millet to give in inspirations. From those reproductions he painted in colour his own interpretations of the paintings, like the Resurrection of Lazaro of Rembrandt. He could go for walks not far and under supervision, was then when he painted many landscapes and irises.

Auvers-sur-Oise and the tragic end of the artist

Vincent Van Gogh decided to move to Auvers-sur-Oise, specially because it was a lot closer to Paris and he could also have the permanent assistance of a doctor in that town. In January 1890 Albert Aurier wrote an article for the Mercure de France magazine, where he mentioned the great work of Vincent. Also, in February that year, he exposed in Brussels in the Hall of the Twenty, where he sold the only picture he would sell in his life, The Red Vine .

At the end of July 1890, Vincent Van Gogh was exhausted with his lonely life, his desperate search for love never ended and he had enough of misery. He shot himself and died in his brothers arms two days later.

Six months after his brother’s death Theo was very sick and died as well. Theo’s son inherited Van Gogh mass collection of paintings, and with the help of the rest of the family started a fight for the recognition of his uncles talents. He succeed after many years of trying.

Now days, Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings are the most expensive in the world, irony enough in 1995 Sunflowers was sold for $36.225.000, the Irises sold in auction in 1987 went for $49.000.000 and Doctor Gachet portrait sold in 1990 in auction went for $75.000.000. Very sad, while the artist lived in complete poverty and dependance of his brother all his short life.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2

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