5 Things You Didn't Know About Van Gogh

On December 23, 1888, Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear.  Van Gogh's life had been marked by irrational and unexpected behavior, but these episodes did not stop him from creating some of the world's most famous paintings. Here are 5 things you didn't know about Van Gogh...


He Produced Some of His Most Famous Paintings While in a Mental Asylum After the ear incident came hospitalization, and following that, Van Gogh voluntarily went into a mental institution. The more than 100 paintings he produced during this period include some of his most celebrated works, such as “The Starry Night,” which was acquired by New York City’s Museum of Modern Art in 1941, and “Irises,” which was purchased by an Australian industrialist in 1987 for a then-record sum of $53.9 million. 

There Were Four Vincent van Goghs Vincent van Gogh the artist was named after his older stillborn brother Vincent, who was in turn named after their grandfather. Another of van Gogh’s brothers, Theo, fathered a son – whom he named Vincent Willem van Gogh.


He Used to Work as a Priest but Was Dismissed When He Decided to Live With Minimal Material Goods Van Gogh spent some time as a priest, working with miners and impoverished communities. He had a sudden revelation at one point that he should get rid of his material goods and began living a spartan life, essentially as a pauper. The church was not supportive of this, reasoning that a priest living in what looked like poverty was a poor representation of the church, and Van Gogh was dismissed.

He Sold Only One of His Paintings While He Was Alive Out of about 900 paintings, Van Gogh managed to sell only one, and that one was toward the end of his life. His fame occurred after his death when his brother, and then his sister-in-law (after his brother's death), started to loan out his paintings in an effort to make his name and art more well-known. His sister-in-law, Jo Van Gogh-Bonger, also published his letters to his brother after her husband's death. In fact, she declined to simply sell the collection of paintings and instead began arranging exhibitions. Even after her death, her son, named Vincent Willem Van Gogh after his uncle, continued the work, eventually opening the Van Gogh Museum in 1973.

He Committed Suicide in 1890 .On 27 July 1890, van Gogh shot himself in the chest and died 2 days after. It is thought that the shooting took place in the wheat field where he had been painting. After the shooting, he managed to walk back to his residence at Auberge Ravoux where he was treated by two doctors. However, he eventually passed away as a result of infection. According to his brother Theo, his last words were "La tristesse durera toujours", meaning: "the sadness will last forever".