Vincent Van Gogh, a Dutch painter born March 30th, 1853 and died July 29th, 1890, was famous for cutting off his ear as a painter. Albeit a drastic measure, his work in the art community was to be marveled. His work in post-impressionism was commonly noted for its rough beauty. His emotional honesty was apparent within his paintings. He frequently used bold colors and stood out in a time where several artists seemed to yield products which blended together. In the utter grey that was the art scene during his time, Vincent Van Gogh’s art stood out like a ray of sunshine. Unfortunately, his anxiety and depression got the best of him resulting in his death at the age of 37. Although no gun was ever found, Vincent Van Gogh died of what was believed to be a self inflicted gunshot. Most artists seem to die young and like many others, Vincent Van Gogh was taken too soon.
Among his notable works was The Potato Eaters. This piece was his debut professional piece. The painting was finished in April of 1885 in the Netherlands. This rather dark colored piece of art depicts a family of five people sitting at a dinner table. Two of the members of the family appear to be men; while the other three appear to be women. Each person is dressed in clothing representative of the period. The family is sitting in a dimly lit house. The house has a single oil lamp appearing above their dinner table.
This small cramped dining room has one window and an empty spice rack on the far wall. Next to who is presumably the father, stands a column reaching to the ceiling. On the dinner table the family is currently surrounding, sits a plate full of diced potatoes. The presumed mother of the family is pouring what looks like tea out of a tea pot and into four different cups. She is the only one in the family not eating. This family is presumed to be poorer since they presumable cannot afford anything but potatoes for dinner, a historically cheap vegetable.
All the way at the end of his life, the complete opposite side of the spectrum in comparison to The Potato Eaters was a painting called Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear. This image is significantly more colorful than the previous one. In this image rests an orange and red background. These two colors are not blended; instead, they take up approximately half of the background each.
The foreground of the painting shows Vincent Van Gogh wearing a fuzzy blue hat. Staring straight at the audience, he rests smoking a pipe. The brown pipe is lit and has smoke arising from it. Vincent Van Gogh himself appears to be slightly unshaven and has a bandage wrapped around his right ear. This white bandage wraps around underneath his chin. Vincent Van Gogh is wearing a blue overcoat in the painting. His facial expression makes him looking incredibly depressed and this is most likely intentional as this was painted near the end of his life.
Depression can take too many people away from the world way before their time. Vincent Van Gogh is an example of a person who could have gone on to do so many greater things in life, had he not been depressed. His pain is very apparent in his art. His life may not have been pleasant to him; hopefully wherever he is he knows that his art brought joy to people all around the globe and throughout time. His art will continue to do so for future generations.
- Callow, Philip. Vincent van Gogh: A Life. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee (1990); ISBN 1-56663-134-3
- Erickson, Kathleen Powers. At Eternity’s Gate: The Spiritual Vision of Vincent van Gogh (1998); ISBN 0-8028-4978-4
- “Vincent Van Gogh expert doubts ‘accidental death’ theory”. The Daily Telegraph. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2012.