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Vincent van Gogh's Biography

Vincent van Gogh's Death

Cautious but optimistic, van Gogh found a congenial environment in Auvers-sur-Oise. Following the advice of the painter Camille Pissarro, he introduced himself to Paul Gachet, a local homeopathic physician as well as an enthusiastic and knowledgeable collector of contemporary art who was willing to offer his supportive supervision.

Vincent van Gogh's Wheatfield with Crows, 1890
Vincent van Gogh's Wheatfield with Crows is an
oil on canvas (20 x 40-1/2 inches) housed in the
Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

In a letter to Theo and Johanna, van Gogh described the region as "lush" and far enough from Paris to be "the real country." Gachet found him a room in an inn, and van Gogh rapidly adopted a regular routine, spending his days painting in the countryside.

Theo and his family visited in June, and van Gogh made a brief trip to Paris in July. When he returned, he gave his full attention to a new subject, which he described in his last letter to his mother and his sister Wil as "the immense plain of wheatfields against the hills, boundless as the sea." He worked quickly in strong, pure color, laying down his pigment with thick impasto that preserved the direction of every stroke.

Vincent van Gogh's Self-Portrait, 1889
Vincent van Gogh's 1889
Self-Portrait is housed in
the National Gallery of
Art in Washington, D.C.

On July 25, Theo received a letter from his brother that seemed to him to be incomprehensible. Two days later, van Gogh shot himself in the wheat field where he had been painting. Theo came immediately and was at his brother's side when van Gogh died on July 29.

A quiet funeral was held in Auvers-sur-Oise with Theo, Gachet, and a few friends from Paris paying their respects. In a letter to the critic G.-Albert Aurier, Bernard noted that van Gogh’s recent canvases were displayed on the wall above his coffin and that the coffin itself was covered with yellow dahlias and sunflowers.

This, he observed, was an appropriate tribute, writing, "It was his favorite color, if you remember, symbol of the light that he dreamed of finding in hearts as in artworks."

Van Gogh's paints and easel were placed on the floor in front of the coffin. Gachet offered a few words of consolation, reminding the mourners that van Gogh gave his whole being to art and humanity and sagely observing, "It is the art that he cherished above all else that will ensure he lives on."

Vincent van Gogh produced volumes of paintings during his short career as a painter. Explore the works of van Gogh in our final section.

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