Vincent van Gogh was born Vincent Willem van Gogh on March 30, 1853, in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands.
His father, Theodorus van Gogh, was an austere country minister, and his mother, Anna Cornelia Carbentus, was a moody artist whose love of nature, drawing and watercolours was transferred to her son.
Van Gogh was born exactly one year after his parents’ first son, also named Vincent, was stillborn. At a young age—his name and birth date already etched on his dead brother’s headstone—the artist was melancholy.
In the fall of 1880, van Gogh decided to move to Brussels and become an artist. Though he had no formal art training, his younger brother Theo, who worked as an art dealer, offered to support him financially.
He began taking lessons on his own, studying books like Travaux des champs by Jean-François Millet and Cours de dessin by Charles Bargue.
Van Gogh had a catastrophic love life. He was attracted to women in trouble, thinking he could help them. His cousin, Kate, was recently widowed, and when van Gogh fell in love with her, she was repulsed and fled to her home in Amsterdam.
He then moved to The Hague and fell in love with Clasina Maria Hoornik, an alcoholic prostitute. She became his companion, mistress and model.
When Hoornik went back to prostitution, van Gogh became utterly depressed. In 1882, his family threatened to cut off his money unless he left Hoornik and The Hague.
Van Gogh left in mid-September of that year to travel to Drenthe, a somewhat desolate district in the Netherlands. For the next six weeks, he lived a nomadic life, moving throughout the region while drawing and painting the landscape and its people.
After more than 100 years since van Gogh’s death, more of his artwork was released. A painting of a landscape entitled “Sunset at Montmajour” was discovered and unveiled by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in September 2013.
Before coming under the possession of the Van Gogh Museum, a Norwegian industrialist owned the painting, storing it away in his attic, doubting that it was authentic.
The painting is believed to have been created by van Gogh in 1888—around the same time that his artwork “Sunflowers” was made—just two years before his death.