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Vincent van Gogh
b. 1853, Groot-Zundert, The Netherlands; d. 1890, Auvers, France
Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853, in Groot-Zundert, the Netherlands. Beginning in 1869, he worked for a firm of art dealers and at various short-lived jobs. By 1877 Van Gogh had begun religious studies, and from 1878 to 1880 he was an evangelist in the Borinage, a poor mining district in Belgium. While working as an evangelist, he decided to become an artist. Van Gogh admired the work of Jean François Millet and Honoré Daumier, and his early subjects were primarily peasants depicted in dark colors. He lived in Brussels and in various parts of the Netherlands before moving to Paris in February 1886.
In Paris he lived with his brother, Theo, and encountered Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting. Van Gogh worked briefly at Fernand Cormon’s atelier, where he met Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The artist also met Emile Bernard, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Camille Pissarro, and Paul Signac at that time. Flowers, portraits, and scenes of Montmartre, as well as a brighter palette, replaced his earlier subject matter and tonalities. Van Gogh often worked in Asnières with Bernard and Signac in 1887.
In February of the following year Van Gogh moved to Arles, where he painted in isolation, depicting the Provençal landscape and people. Gauguin joined him in the fall, and the two artists worked together. In December of 1888, after the two artists had a falling out, Van Gogh suffered his first mental breakdown. Numerous seizures and intermittent confinements in mental hospitals in Arles, Saint-Rémy, and Auvers-sur-Oise followed from that time until 1890. Nevertheless, he continued to paint. In 1890 Van Gogh was invited to show with Les Vingt in Brussels, where he sold his first painting. That same year he was represented at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. Van Gogh shot himself on July 27, 1890, and died on July 29 in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.