“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.”-Vincent Van Gogh
There are people in this world about whom we read in the history books and think how they were living ahead of their time. We think how these people had talents which the world back then did not recognize and did not give them enough credit for it. These people faced a very clear lack of appreciation for their downright talent until they were no more. The Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh was one of those people.
Vincent Willem Van Gogh was born in 1853in Zundert, Netherlands. Van Gogh got his early education in Zundert and then attended a boarding school for some years. Then for his secondary schooling he went to the King Willem II secondary school in Tilburg. He left his education in 1868, in the age of 15 and never returned.
In 1869, when he was sixteen years old, he started painting for a well-known company Goupil and Cie. However, things did not work for him and the company dismissed him in 1876, at the age of 23. He left his town and kept wandering for the next 5 years through the cities of Europe, drawing people and landscapes.
When Van Gogh returned back to his home in 1881, his younger brother and his beloved sibling of all, Theodore Van Gogh was working for the same company, Goupil and Cie. Theo was doing quite well in the company and was appointed at a high position. He started helping his older brother financially. But at this point Van Gogh was already mentally troubled because of his hard work in art not paying back and him being at the servitude of a younger sibling.
“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke”-Vincent Van Gogh
He tried selling his painting once again to pay Theo back all his kindness but the audience did not take much interest in his work and his paintings were returned to him after many exhibitions. This stirred up his bad mental state even more. In 1988, he got into an argument with another artist he was working with and got an attack. He started hallucinating and his illness revealed itself. He took a razor blade and cut a part of his ear and later mailed it to a woman who was a sex worker.
The year that followed he remained in a hospital in a psychiatric ward. During this year he painted in bulk; flowers, buildings, town and whatnot. All of this collection includes so many masterpieces by him including The Starry Night which he drew from the asylum looking out from the window at night and drew the night sky with bright stars which shone over the dark town. He always admired the view of night and found it very worthy of his brush strokes as he said;
“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.”
At this point he had no family support other than his brother Theo. He was drunk most of the time and would wander about in the fields carrying his paint and canvas. The Dutch painter would sit down anywhere he felt like sitting. He would start painting the scenery in front of him. He was a soul who wanted people to love him and his work as he loved people.
In 1890, he was in the hospital when he started getting recognition for his work. However in the meanwhile his brother Theo left the company and started his own business. This made Vincent lose the will to live. The only brother who loved him was leaving him behind as well.
At age 37, in 1890 Vincent Van Gogh shot himself as an act of suicide. Later he died in the loving arms of his brother on 29th of July. He left behind more than 1300 artworks on the paper. He also left behind more than 850 paintings as his legacy. A lot of his artworks also got stolen after his death. This was the tale which got forwarded through in history from Irving Stone’s classic novel. It was also transposed into a film therefore it became an acceptable tale.
However, the geographers Steven Naifeh and Gregory White-Smith have discovered a lot of discrepancies from the final days of the artist. They wrote that the story which is brought to us by the history does not quite add up. Because if a man decides to kill himself, he walks to the fields and shoots himself in the head, not in the stomach. Moreover, he will never have the will to walk all the way back home to die in the bed if all he wanted was death.
“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”-Vincent Van Gogh
Naifeh and White-Smith discovered that all the circumstances go against the notion of suicide. They further add up that Van Gogh made a new friend named Gaston Sectretan. He used to sit with him and ask him questions about his art and tricks to make his better. Van Gogh finally found a friend so he took all the teasings of his younger brother Rene Secretan.
16 years-old Rene slowly got to know that the painter didn’t have any friends. He also noticed how the Dutch painter was loner so he started bullying him. Gradually he invited his teenage friends along to bully Vincent. They would mix salt in his tea, lacquer the tip of his paintbrush with chili powder when he was not around.
One day Rene went to Paris to watch a Buffalo Bill Show and was really impressed by it. When he came back he was all dressed up in a cowboy drag and had a revolver. The family again left for Paris following the day Vincent died. When they came back no one saw the revolver again. This is how Naifeh and White-Smith conclude that it must be the boy that killed Van Gogh after bullying him for so long.
But as a conclusion, the actual tale of Vincent Van Gogh’s death is still unknown to everyone. No one knows if he killed himself or someone actually murdered him. All we know is that he was an extraordinary artist with a troubled mind, who craved for love, a beautiful soul who lived out of normality and ahead of his time and as he said;