Hard work and determination can almost make anything possible. Many famous people in the history who have excelled in their respective fields have taught us this fact. Of them, most people have come into the limelight when they were still alive. They were lucky.
While others, unfortunately, became famous only after they have left this world. There are many untold stories of such heroes, who have excelled in one field or the other, and yet couldn’t enjoy the fruit of their success.
Vincent Willem van Gogh, famously known as Vincent van Gogh or Vincent, is one of those geniuses, who excelled in the field of art (paintings), only to become famous after his demise in the year 1890.
- Early years
Vincent van Gogh was born to Theodorus van Gogh and Anna Cornelia Carbentus on 30th of March, 1853. Vincent’s was a religious family and his father was a minister in the church. When he was 15, he was forced into work as his family was struggling to meet the ends. He joined his uncle as an art dealer and was initially successful.
Tired of the job, Vincent returned home and started studying theology. Though he was intelligent and could speak multiple languages, he failed in the tests to become a minister, just because he refused to take Latin as the medium to teach the poor. Soon he was working as a missionary in a poor community which lived on mining coal. This is where he started as a painter, painting the portraits of the coal miners and their families. Here, he was called, “Christ of the Coal Mines.”
- Life as an artist
In the year 1884, Vincent began to take painting seriously. He and planned to paint a multi-figure portrait that would earn him respect in the society of elite painters. He was able to finish the painting in the year 1885. Vincent named it “The Potato Eaters.” He considered this painting as his personal failure when he was alive, though it went on to become one of the best portraits the world has ever known, after his death.
- Disastrous love life
Vincent thought that nothing was going right in his life. His love life was a failure. He first fell in love with Eugenie Loyer, daughter of the landlady at the Groupil Gallery. When she refused his marriage proposal, he was shattered. Then he fell in love with his widowed cousin, Kate, who fled to Amsterdam repulsed when she knew Vincent was in love with her. He later fell in love with a prostitute, Calsina Maria Hoornik, when she too left him, Vincent was devastated.
- Vincent ate paints to survive
After Hoornik left him, he boarded train to the South of France and moved into a little house, now known as, “a little yellow house.” This is where he painted majority of his works. He spent all the money that his brother used to send him on buying paints and turpentine. He stopped taking food as there was no money left. He lived on coffee and bread. This deteriorated his health. Soon, along with his deteriorating physical condition, mental illness started creeping in. During this period, it is said that he ate paint and drank turpentine to fight hunger.
- Mental illness
In 1886, Vincent moved on to Paris and started living with his brother, Theo. He was financially struggling. His brother offered him the financial support and promised to sell his paintings. Despite of many efforts, Theo could sell only one of Vincent’s paintings. Vincent’s first signs of mental illness began to show in the late 1888. He suffered epilepsy, various types of Psychotic attacks, as well as delusions. It was around this time he mutilated his ear and offered it to a prostitute asking her to keep it safely. Following such violent incidents, he was arrested by the police and moved to Hotel-Dieu Hospital.
He was released from the hospital in the year 1887 but was soon hospitalized again in the year 1889. Undeterred from the string of dreadful events happening in his life, Vincent used to silently paint in the gardens of the hospital. In spite of his master strokes and highly expressive portraits, the world of painters never recognized him. But his determination was never down as he continued to talk with his brush. In the year 1890, Vincent was taken back to home by his brother Theo, where he shot himself to death. He died on 29th of July, 1890. Six months later, weakened by Vincent’s death, his brother Theo too died of syphilis and was buried next to him.
Johanna, collected as many paintings of Vincent as she could and displayed them in an art exhibition in Paris on 17th of March, 1901. The rest is a history. Vincent’s fame grew leaps and bounds in the coming years. “Irises,” one of the Vincent’s works was sold for as much as $53.9 million dollars, and the other one named “Portrait of Dr. Gachet,” was sold for a staggering $82.5 million. Today, Vincent van Gogh is known as one the finest painters the Dutch has ever produced.
Though Vincent was not able to enjoy his fame and money, his life teaches us an important lesson. No matter what the situation is; determination, hard work, discipline, punctuality and a strong will to achieve one’s goal will always pay, it’s just a matter of time.