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  • Born: 30 March 1853
  • Birthplace: Groot Zundert, Holland
  • Died: 29 July 1890 (self-inflicted gunshot)
  • Best Known As: The marvelous painter who cut off his own earlobe

A 19th-century painter, Van Gogh is almost as famous for his mental instability as for his vivid paintings. His career as an artist lasted only 10 years and coincided with frequent bouts of depression and anguish; in a famous 1888 incident he slashed off his left earlobe with a razor. He is closely associated with the town of Arles in the south of France, where he created many of his greatest paintings. Among his best-known works are The Potato Eaters (1885), Starry Night (1889), and Irises (1889). He died in Auvers, France two days after shooting himself in the chest with a pistol.

Starry Night Over the Rhone (September 1888) is one of Vincent van Gogh‘s paintings of Arles at night; it was painted at a spot on the banks of river which was only a minute or two’s walk from the Yellow House on the Place Lamartine which Van Gogh was renting at the time. The night sky and the effects of light at night provided the subject for some of his more famous paintings, including Cafe Terrace at Night (painted earlier the same month) and the later canvas from Saint-Rémy, The Starry Night. The painting was first exhibited in 1889 at the annual exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants in Paris, together with the Irises. The latter was added by Theo, while Vincent had proposed one of his paintings from the public gardens in Arles, most probably the version now in the Phillips Collection.

Irises is a painting by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. Irises was painted while Vincent van Gogh was living at the asylum at Saint Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890. It was painted before his first attack at the asylum. There is a lack of the high tension which is seen in his later works. He called the painting “the lightning conductor for my illness”, because he felt that he could keep himself from going insane by continuing to paint. The painting was influenced by Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, like many of his works and those by other artists of the time. The similarities occur with strong outlines, unusual angles, including close-up views and also flattish local colour (not modelled according to the fall of light). He considered this painting a study, which is probably why there are no known drawings for it,[1] although Theo, Van Gogh’s brother, thought better of it and quickly submitted it to the annual exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants in September 1889, together with Starry Night Over the Rhone. He wrote to Vincent of the exhibition: “[It] strikes the eye from afar. The Irises are a beautiful study full of air and life.”

Portrait of Dr. Gachet (Original version) First sold in 1897 by van Gogh’s sister-in-law for 300 francs, the painting was subsequently bought by Paul Cassirer (1904), Kessler (1904), and Druet (1910). In 1911, the painting was acquired by the Städel (Städtische Galerie) in Frankfurt, Germany and hung there until 1933, when the painting was put in a hidden room. The Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda confiscated the work in 1937 as part of its campaign to rid Germany of so-called degenerate art, leading to Hermann Göring hurriedly selling it to a dealer in Amsterdam. The dealer in turn sold it to collector Siegfried Kramarsky, who brought it with him when he fled to New York, where the work was often lent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kramarsky’s family put the painting up for auction at Christie’s New York in May 15, 1990, where it became famous for Ryoei Saito, honorary chairman of Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Co., paying US$82.5 million for it, making it then the world’s most expensive painting. The 75-year old Japanese businessman briefly caused a scandal when he said he would have the Van Gogh painting cremated with him after his death, though his aides later claimed Saito threatening to torch the masterpiece was just an expression of intense affection for it. Though he later said he would consider giving the painting to the Japanese government or a museum, no information has been made public about the exact location and ownership of the portrait since his death in 1996. Reports in 2007 have claimed the painting was sold a decade earlier to the Austrian-born investment fund manager Wolfgang Flöttl.[4] Flöttl, in turn, had reportedly been forced by financial reversals to sell the painting to parties as yet unknown.

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