Vincent Van Gogh - Mal de Vivre of a Genious - Part 2

After having wandered as a nomad for six weeks, painting each day, for his art was the only relief from his internal grief, in 1885, he began working on his first masterpiece, "Potato Eaters." 

 Potato Eaters - V.Van Gogh - 1885: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Letter to Thèo about Potato Eaters

By the time, Theo had relocated to Paris, where impressionism was the leading trend: when Vincent presented him his painting, Theo rejected it, suggesting it wouldn’t be well-received in the French capital. Undaunted, van Gogh decided to move to Paris, showing up at Theo's door without giving any notice, thus In March 1886, Theo and his wife welcomed Vincent into their small apartment.

Van Gogh in Paris 1886

In Paris, van Gogh was inspired by impressionist art, by their colors and light. During this period, he got to know and befriend Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissarro and others, with whom he started studying and painting, posing for each other instead of hiring models, in order to save money. Vincent’s passionate temper hadn’t changed and it utterly showed up very soon, as he argued with other painters about their works, distancing those who came to no longer bear his backbiting. 

To enhance his art and life-style, Van Gogh became always more involved with the study of Japanese art and eastern philosophy, dreaming of traveling there. When Vincent revealed this wish to Toulouse-Lautrec, the friend told him that the light in the village of Arles was just like the light in Japan, thus, in February 1888, van Gogh jumped on a train to the south of France, where he moved into the "little yellow house". During this extremely productive period, he used to spend his money on paint rather than food, surviving on coffee, bread and absinthe, which brought him a deep feel of sickness and oddness. 

Vincent Van Gogh, The Yellow House

The Yellow House in Arles Today.

Not far in time, his mind started drifting away from reality, bordering on madness. It was reported that he sipped turpentine and ate paint several times.

Paul Gauguin 

When Theo heard about the conditions of his brother, he offered Paul Gauguin money to join Vincent in Arles and watch over him. After a long correspondence between the two about their ideas and intents about art innovation, Gauguin moved in the Yellow House, but soon after, Vincent and the new house-mate started arguing, constantly.  When they got at loggerheads, Gauguin walked out, chased by Vincent, who allegedly had a very peculiar gift for him, his ear. 

Hours later, van Gogh went to the local brothel and paid for a prostitute named Rachel, offering her his ear, beseeching her to "keep this object carefully." The following morning, the policemen found him in his room in very critical conditions.  Thus, they carried him to the Hôtel-Dieu hospital. Theo arrived on Christmas Day to see van Gogh, who was weak from blood loss and having violent seizures. Before leaving,Theo was assured by Doctors that his brother would live and that they would take good care of him. 


Written by Federico Bertorello a.k.a. Freddy Kingley 

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