Vincent van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh (Zundert, 30 March 1853 - Auvers-sur-Oise, 29 July 1890) was a Dutch artist. His work was Post-impressionist, an artistic trend which followed on from the nineteenth century Impressionist movement. Van Gogh's influence on Expressionism, Fauvism and Early Abstract was enormous and can be witnessed in many other aspects of twentieth century art. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is dedicated to the work of Van Gogh and his contemporaries.

Nowadays Van Gogh is considered to be one of the 19th century's greatest artists. This recognition came too late, however. During his lifetime he sold only one single painting, La Vigne Rouge (The Red Vineyard), Pushkin Museum, Moscow. Anna Boch, a Belgian artist and sister of his friend Eugène Boch bought it for 400 francs at the Brussels exhibition Les XX in 1890, a few months before Van Gogh's death.

There were just three years between the melancholy Potato Eaters (1885) and the colourful displays further south in Arles (1888). Van Gogh produced all his work in just ten years before suffering from mental illness and committing suicide. His fame rose quickly after his death.

From De Telegraaf dt 28 january 2011:

There are just five photos of Vincent van Gogh anywhere in the world. Not surprising, as the world famous painter breathed his last in 1890. One of these rare photos will be displayed permanently from next week in the Paleis-Raadhuis (Town Hall) in Tilburg, in the reconstructed Vincent's Art Room. It is a class photo from the 1866-1867 school year. Van Gogh was at that time a thirteen year old lad at the King Willem II National High School in Tilburg. But which of those students is actually him?
According to most experts Vincent is the skinny boy on the first row, third from the right and with a cap on his knee. Ronald Peeters from the Tilburg Municipal Museum agrees: "We have studied all the boys in the photo in detail and the conclusion is clear. That blond lad is Vincent van Gogh. We know this because we happen to have another photo of Vincent as a thirteen year old, a portrait photo. And he looks very much like that boy. The same expression, the same hairline. I cannot be one hundred percent certain. But I'm as sure as I can be that it's him. Especially when you consider that in those days the other boys all had a good head of hair. Van Gogh came from a strict priest's family, where such a mop of hair would probably be thought unsuitable."
But the Tilburg artist Ad Willemen is convinced that the boy on the second row, second from right is the young Vincent van Gogh. "I used to be an art teacher at the same school and I found this photo in a shoe box in an attic. I wanted to know for sure which was Vincent. I had all the boys' photos enlarged separately and I sent them to the Netherlands Forensic Institute. Unfortunately it did not prove anything. The photos were too grainy. I suggest it is not the boy on the front row. Vincent was a first year student at the time and in those days hierarchy was very important. He would never have sat in the first row, that's where students from a higher class sat."
Ad Willemen's opinion is supported by Vincent van Gogh expert Ton de Brouwer from Nuenen and from the local Van Gogh Centre. Vincent van Gogh lived and worked in Nuenen for some years. "I also believe that it's the boy in the second row. Vincent's nephew, the engineer Van Gogh who died in 1978 also believed that instinctively. But let's be honest: I'm not completely sure either…"

Where is Vincent sitting? Read the answer here.