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His first drawings of people depict various peasants in static poses, some in profile, while his premier landscapes are largely studies in perspective. In his early pen and watercolor drawings , Vincent incorporated shadow and light rather than color to create dimension. Drawing upon the weighty influences of masters such as Millet, Rembrandt and Daumier, the artist's focus on the human figure was critical to his artistic development. Midway through , van Gogh engaged in a brief period of study with Anton Mauve, a master in The Hague School of art.

#70/125 Did Van Gogh want to be famous, or just to earn a living?

Mauve not only covered the basics but also introduced his pupil to watercolors and oils, thus broadening the artist's scope of expression. Vincent's Still Life With Cabbage and Clogs , one of his first paintings, makes use of the somber earth tones that characterize his early works in the Dutch style. It also features a rich splash of color, a harbinger of the brilliant Van Gogh painting style to come. One of the van Gogh's early forays into landscape, a genre that would hold his focus throughout his career, View of the Sea at Scheveningen completed in August , depicts an active view of the strand near The Hague.

The realism of the scene is actually in evidence on the canvas itself, with grains of sand from the stormy weather still embedded in the oils.

The work exhibits elements of the Impressionist school of art with its indistinct yet mobile figures in the foreground, choppy brush strokes indicating roiling surf and the dark shapes, suggestive of storm clouds, overhead. Vincent van Gogh's residence in The Hague during and proved to be a productive period in which he continued to hone his technique and explore similar yet fresh subject matter.

During this time, he received his first commissions for several drawings of cityscapes in The Hague from an uncle who was also an art dealer. Van Gogh landscape painting of Bulb Fields testifies to the artist's awakening to the expressive use of light and color so prominent in his later work.

In the foreground of the painting, hyacinths in white, blue, pink and golden hues fill garden boxes that lead to eye toward a distant hillside and a sky filled with white clouds. Shadowed, thatch-roofed houses frame the scene while a gardener walks between boxes in the middle distance. Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul.

Van Gogh’s Works

During this era of the Vincent van Gogh's life, a failed love affair, his father's death and a short-lived period of study at the Antwerp Academy formed a bleak backdrop for Vincent's ongoing artistic development. During a stay in the northern village of Nuenen in late through , the painter focused on agrarian scenes of peasants working the soil and weavers plying their craft. In , the artist produced The Potato Eaters , a work many consider to be his first masterpiece.

In this depiction of a farm family seated around their humble table, Vincent invokes the influence of Rembrandt by virtue of the shadowy setting that is nevertheless filled with personality and life. A heaping plate of potatoes illustrates the simple wealth of those who earn their living on the land. The companionable atmosphere, lit by the warm glow of a single lamp, inspires in the viewer a yearning to take part this lowly yet companionable scene.

In , Vincent van Gogh attended art classes at the Antwerp Academy, but remained for only part of the year. Theo, an art dealer, introduced his brother to the works of prominent Impressionist painters such as Claude Monet , Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Georges Seurat , all of which had strong influences on the artist's future paintings. The letter, however, takes on the tone of an impassioned plea as Van Gogh seeks to convince his brother that he, Vincent, is not the failure the family believes him to be.

I would rather die a natural death than be prepared for it by the academy, and have occasionally had a lesson from a grass-mower that seemed to me more useful than one in Greek.

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Improvement in my life — should I not desire it or should I not be in need of improvement? I really want to improve. Can you blame a sick person if he looks the doctor straight in the eye and prefers not to be treated wrongly or by a quack?


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Such idling is really a rather strange sort of idling. That would really be a sufficient answer supposing it were possible for us to assume the guise of a baker or hair-cutter or librarian with lightning speed and yet actually a foolish response, rather like the way the man acted who, when accused of heartlessness because he was sitting on a donkey, immediately dismounted and continued on his way with the donkey on his shoulders.

To many it would no doubt appear foolish and superstitious to believe in any improvement for the better.

But whether we like it or not, an end finally comes to the hard frost, and one fine morning the wind has turned and we have a thaw. Comparing the natural state of the weather with our state of mind and our circumstances, subject to variables and change, I still have some hope that it can improve. Nearly a year elapses until the brothers reconnect — the longest break in their lifetime of letters and loving support — during which time Van Gogh sinks into a state of destitution and despair.

Instead of giving way to despair, I took the way of active melancholy as long as I had strength for activity, or in other words, I preferred the melancholy that hopes and aspires and searches to the one that despairs, mournful and stagnant. The man who is absorbed in all that is sometimes shocking, to others, and without wishing to, offends to a greater or lesser degree against certain forms and customs of social convention. Van Gogh writes:. The goal will become clearer, will take shape slowly and surely, as the croquis becomes a sketch and the sketch a painting, as one works more seriously, as one digs deeper into the originally vague idea, the first fugitive, passing thought, unless it becomes firm.

If you now can forgive a man for going more deeply into paintings, admit also that the love of books is as holy as that of Rembrandt, and I even think that the two complement each other. He returns to the heart of the matter — the anguish of not having settled into his sense of purpose:. Do you see, it continually torments me, and then you feel a prisoner in penury, excluded from participating in this work or that, and such and such necessary things are beyond your reach.

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