Vincent van Gogh

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Vincent Willem van Gogh (March 30, 1853-July 29, 1890) was a Dutch painter, classified as a Post-impressionist, and is generally considered one of the greatest painters in the history of European art.

By the age of 27 he had been in turn a salesman in an art gallery, a French tutor, a theological student, and an evangelist among the miners at Wasmes in Belgium. During the nearly two years he spent living among the miners and sharing their poverty, he lost his faith, but he found in art--through the charcoal drawings he made of the landscapes and people around him--the possibility of a new career. Van Gogh was mostly self-taught as an artist. He copied from prints, especially those of Jean François Millet, a popular French painter of rural life.

From the early 1880s on, van Gogh was supported by his brother Théo van Gogh, an art dealer in Paris who provided encouragement as well as financial assistance.

Van Gogh corresponded frequently with Théo for the rest of his life, describing in detail his daily life and the ideas for his works.

The brooding, ominous atmosphere of van Gogh's last painting, Crows in a Wheatfield (1890, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh), is considered a reflection of the artist's disturbed state of mind at the end of his life. Soon after finishing it, van Gogh shot himself on July 27, 1890, and died two days later.