With Vincent van Gogh’s birthday this month (30/3/53), the release of At Eternity’s Gate starring Willem Dafoe as Vincent (29/3/19) and the Tate Britain exhibiting 45 works by Vincent in Van Gogh and Britain (27/3/19 – 11/8/19) I think it’s safe to say this is a Van Gogh month!
His works and legacy have shaped the modern art world, and in just over a decade he created around 2,100 pieces of art, including around 860 oil paintings, most of which he painted in the last two years of his short life.
Not many people know that Vincent spent some time in England. The Tate’s exhibition reveals how he was inspired by Britain and how he inspired British artists, including Walter Sickert and Francis Bacon.
Vincent lodged in Brixton for a year in 1873-74 while working as an art dealer for a gallery in Covent Garden. He sketched the Victoria Embankment, which was just a few years old, and a humble room at 87 Hackford Road, where he fell in love with the landlord’s daughter. Sadly, the love was unrequited sending Vincent into a downward spiral of depression.
Aged 23, he took a job as an assistant teacher at a boy’s school in Ramsgate teaching maths and French. He immediately took to this area, loving the views of the harbour and the jetties. As well as two sketches of the seafront on the West Cliff, the sky, seascape and light of Thanet caught the imagination of the emerging painter.
Vincent’s paintings are now virtually priceless and undeniably rank amongst the most valuable art in the world, and yet, he remained poor and virtually unknown throughout his life, managing to sell only one painting.
Ravaged by mental illness and depression, his suicide at aged 37 followed years of struggle and poverty.