Van Gogh: Painting Value-loaded canvases

Portrait of Dr Paul Gachet
Portrait of Dr. Gachet was painted in 
June 1890 during the last months of 
Van Gogh's life,  before his suicide.  

There was a Doctor. There was a patient. A mentally-disturbed patient. The doctor kept treating the patient even if the patient was taking treatment in an asylum. By a God-send gift, the patient was an artist. 

The patient was the artist whose paintings would be sold in millions. However, we are concerned here with the doctor and the patient. The artist Patient. 

This artist, even passing through his mental illness even taking the required treatment from the doctors, kept painting. He painted a portrait of the doctor who was treating him very affectionately. 

That Portrait of Dr Paul Gachet painting was sold at a price of $82.5 Million at Christie's New York in the year 1990. If the price is adjusted to the present level of the prices (2019), it would come to around $161.4 Million.  

Yes, the name of the artist patient was Vincent Van Gogh. And the name of the doctor was Dr Paul Gachet.

Van Gogh Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers
Vincent van Gogh      Oil on Canvas
Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), the name does not require any elaborate introduction. He is one of the most popular artists of all time; so far as the field of painting is concerned. It was a matter of misfortune, for the artist like him, that his famous paintings were hardly recognized as masterpieces during his lifetime. 

He went to Paris in 1886 where he became part of the avant-garde art community. He came into contacts with master painters like Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, Edgar Degas, and Paul Gauguin. he was the darling of all the artist friends. 

Earlier works of Van Gogh mostly consisted of the still life. He liked the flowers most. He liked flower-vases, too. Here is a painting Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers. In a private auction, the painting was sold for $ 58 Million in the year 1989. If the price is adjusted to the present level of the prices (2019), it would come to around $123.8 Million.

Van Gogh had painted eleven still-life paintings of flowers. he painted four in Paris. The rest ere painted in the city of Arles, which is in the southern part of France. The above painting was done using the impasto technique of putting the colours on a canvas. It is believed that Van Gogh wanted to celebrate the arrival of his close friend Gauguin. He did it so aesthetically.  

Van Gogh Oil Painting: A painter like Van Gogh tries to send the message of releasing the passion embedded in the artist’s heart; making us know how the artist had felt burdened with the untold passion and finally after the release of the same. Van Gogh had suffered from mental illness throughout his life. He had mental disorders known as schizophrenia that had affected Van Gogh's whole life and career as an artist. It is believed that his most famous paintings, including the 'Starry Night', were in fact painted while he was in an asylum. Such painful was his life: such fantastic was his life.  


Field with ploughing farmers
  Vincent van Gogh



Wheat Field with Cypresses Vincent van Gogh

 Some Unknown Facts About VanGogh

  • He started painting after he was 27. He painted 2000 plus artworks
  • More than 300 were oil paintings. He painted some of his masterpieces while he was in an asylum.
  • He could sell only one painting during his lifetime. Out of the 30 most expensive paintings of modern times, 4 are by Van Gogh   

    Field with ploughing farmers  Vincent van Gogh

    Van Gogh had cultivated an intimate relationship with the farms, especially the wheat farms. We can see the wheat-farm appearing in many of his paintings. Here in the above painting, the farmers are ploughing the land for planting the crop. The painting is done with bold strokes, as usual, depicting Van Gogh's internal level of illness. The painting was sold for $ 81.3 Million in the year 2017 at Christie's New York.

    Wheat Field with Cypresses Vincent van Gogh

    Van Gogh had painted at least three versions of this painting. One was sold for $57 Million in the year 1993. If the price is adjusted to the present level of the prices (2019), it would come to around $100.9 Million. These three paintings were exhibited at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole mental asylum at Saint-Rémy near Arles, France, where Van Gogh was voluntarily a patient from May 1889 to May 1890.

    Van Gogh Painting European Landscapes: Look at the above two paintings. Here Van Gogh had shown his mastery over the subjects, the landscapes, he painted. For an impressionist painter, the controlling of the effects of light is an issue demanding artistic skill. While painting out of the doors, it is difficult to choose colours; especially when the artist has to work with his or her eyes half shut due to the presence of blazing sunlight. When an artist paints out of the doors, the same set of principles of painting applies; but it is hard to sort out the chaos of colours and keep their tonal values intact, especially in the impressionist style of painting. Vincent van Gogh, 1853-1890, painted magical European landscapes.

The Artist: The artists are creators in their own manner and style, as they are masters of their inner being and emotional world. They conceive ideas; they recreate a world of their artistic vision. While doing this they apply sense and the sensitiveness they own. These artists are like scientists in search of forms. Feelings in their heart play a pivotal role.

While doing their work the artists mostly rely on the forms. With their tools of the trade, the colours and brushes, painters create several set of forms on canvass or on paper. These forms are near to reality in most cases. However, that may not be the case always.

Self-portrait as a painter
Vincent van Gogh

The Art:    Painting the ‘European Landscapes’, Van Gogh had added magic into the art of painting. Van Gogh’s palette had expressive and emotive colours on it. Van Gogh used these colours as a master impressionist, painting his canvases in the style of the impressionist who was used to paint outside their studios. 

Van Gogh used mostly brilliant colour to produce the striking light in his paintings. The energetic application of the hot colours produced a rich impasto surface conveying the ever-present vibrancy. Van Gogh paintings had one special feature that made him an artist painting obvious and contrary to the prevailing standard, acting as a revolutionary painter.  

In the above painting Vincent van Gogh, as a master impressionist, seemed to have painted or transformed what he saw, what really was before his eyes. Though the artists' imagination is not ruled out here. With his artistic skill, Van Gogh had injected beauty in nature by creating harmony through vivid colours. 

Nothing defeats the harmony of the whole painting. The magically looking clouds and the sky speak how the artist was used to paint. The whole painting here, like other famous European landscapes. Like his other paintings, it helps us see nature with a brand new look. [All the images are in Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons]

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