Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890 BACK

The following excerpt was taken from
Van Gogh's Van Goghs :
Masterpieces from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

by Richard Kendall

Translated from the Dutch by Michael Hayle

Unsuspected Talents

When Van Gogh decided to become an artist, no one, not even he himself, suspected that he had extraordinary gifts. His evolution from an inept but impassioned novice into a truly original master was remarkably rapid. He eventually proved to have an exceptional feel for bold, harmonious color effects, and an infallible instinct for choosing simple but memorable compositions.

In order to prepare for his new career Van Gogh went to Brussels to study at the academy, but left after only nine months. There he got to know Anthon van Rappard, who was to be his most important artist friend during his Dutch period.

In April 1881, Van Gogh went to live with his parents in Etten in North Brabant, where he set himself the task of leaming how to draw. He experimented endlessly with all sorts of drawing materials, and concentrated on mastering technical aspects of his craft like perspective, anatomy, and physiognomy. Most of his subjects were taken from peasant life.

At the end of 1881 he moved to The Hague, and there, too, he concentrated mainly on drawing. At first he took lessons from Anton Mauve, his cousin by marriage, but the two soon fell out, partly because Mauve was scandalized by Vincent's relationship with Sien Hoomik, a pregnant prostitute who already had an illegitimate child.Van Gogh made a few paintings while in The Hague, but drawing was his main passion. In order to achieve his ambition of becoming a figure painter he drew from the live model whenever he could.

In September 1883 he decided to break off the relationship with Sien and follow in the footsteps of artists like Van Rappard and Mauve by trying his luck in the picturesque eastern province of Drenthe, which was fairly inaccessible in those days. After three months, however, a lack of both drawing materials and models forced him to leave. He decided once again to move in with his parents, who were now living in the North Brabant village of Nuenen, near Eindhoven.

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