Vincent Van Gogh’s Myth Of Selling Only One Painting

Vincent Van Gogh’s Myth Of Selling Only One Painting

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There is a myth that Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime. We know he did not sell many paintings during his lifetime.

Vincent Van Gogh was known to trade some of his paintings with other artists or even to give them away. The Red Vineyard is the leading painting people know about him selling during his lifetime. Evidence shows that his brother Theo sold one of his self-portraits to an art dealer in London in 1888. So, he sold at least two paintings during his lifetime.

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Vincent Van Gogh Was Known To Trade Or Gave Away Paintings

During his lifetime Vincent van Gogh was known to trade or give away paintings. He often gave them to people because he thought they looked good in their homes or the surroundings. In a letter in 1885 to his brother Theo, he told about his experience with one of his paintings.

Van Gogh painted a scene from an area near his house in Nuenen, Netherlands. He took the painting to a friend named Anton Kerssemaker’s house.

They hung the painting up, and Van Gogh wrote this to his brother Theo about how he felt when he saw the painting hanging on the wall:

“Although the man has money, although he really liked it — I had such a tingle of good spirits when I saw that it worked, that it created a mood as it hung there because of the soft, melancholy peace of that colour combination — that I COULD not sell.
But because it had affected him, I gave it to him, and he accepted it just as I meant it, without many words, that’s to say little other than — ‘the thing’s damned good.”

Vincent Van Gogh in Letter To His Brother Theo – 7 November 1885

This shows a lot about the character of Vincent Van Gogh; for him, it was not about money but something more. He saw that his friend appreciated the painting, which worked so well in the home that he gave it away.

Saying Vincent Van Gogh could only sell one painting is not valid, as he was known to barter paintings with other artists and also to even give paintings away from time to time.

The Red Vineyard Painting Was Sold For 400 Francs

The only painting sold by Vincent van Gogh in his lifetime was The Red Vineyard which was bought by the Belgian artist Anna Boch.

In early 1890, Theo Van Gogh was able to sell Vincent Van Gogh’s painting The Red Vineyard for 400 Francs at an exhibition in Brussels. Anna Boch purchased the painting, the sister of the painter Eugene Boch.

Anna Boch was also a painter known to be a friend of Vincent’s.

The amount was not considerable, especially compared to what other painters were earning at the time, but Vincent Van Gogh felt it was a start for him to earn an income through his painting.

In speaking of this in a letter to his mother, Vincent Van Gogh wrote:

“Theo informed me that they’d sold one of my paintings in Brussels for 400 francs. In comparison with other prices, including the Dutch ones, this isn’t much, but that’s why I try to be productive in order to be able to keep working at reasonable prices. And if we have to try to earn our living with our hands, I have an awful lot of expenses to make up for.”Vincent Van Gogh

Letter to His Mother – 19 February 1890

Many cite this as the only painting Van Gogh sold in his lifetime. But some scholars disagree with that idea.

Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait Painting To London In 1888

In a business letter to London art dealers Sully & Lori, Theo Van Gogh sent two paintings to the art dealers. One was a landscape by Camille Corot, and the other was listed as a self-portrait by V. Van Gogh.

As reported in an article in The Baltimore Sun, Theo wrote in a letter to Scully & Lori:

“We have the honour to inform you that we have sent you the two pictures you have bought and duly paid for: a landscape by Camille Corot … a self-portrait by V. van Gogh.”

Letter Theo to Scully & Lori – 3 October 1888

The myth that Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime is just a myth that even scholars have perpetuated. But there is evidence to show that he sold at least two paintings or even more.

We know that he gave away and even traded paintings with other artists.

We can say that during his lifetime Vincent Van Gogh did not sell many paintings and seems to have not sold enough to cover his expenses as a painter. He depended on others – mainly his brother Theo, for his financial survival.

Great paintings and artists like Vincent van Gogh inspire me. Anita Louise Art is dedicated to art education, great artists, and inspiring others to find and create their art. We love art that uplifts and inspires. #ArtToMakeYouSmile! #ArtToMakeYouHappy!

Listen To Our Podcast About Beyond the Myth: Unveiling Vincent Van Gogh’s Artistic Transactions Below or By clicking here.

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Frequently Asked Questions

When did Van Gogh sell his first painting?

Van Gogh sold his first painting in 1882 when he was 29 years old.

Did Van Gogh only sell one painting during his lifetime?

No, Van Gogh sold more than one painting during his lifetime, but the exact number is not definitively known.

What was the only painting sold by Vincent Van Gogh during his lifetime?

The only painting that is widely recognized as having been sold by Van Gogh during his lifetime is “The Red Vineyard,” which was purchased by Anna Boch in 1890.

How did Theo Van Gogh support Vincent financially?

Theo Van Gogh, who worked as an art dealer, provided Vincent with financial support throughout his life. He regularly sent Vincent money to cover his living expenses, art supplies, and even paid for his medical treatment when needed.

How were Van Gogh’s paintings sold after his death?

Following Van Gogh’s death, Theo worked tirelessly to promote his brother’s art. He organized exhibitions and actively sought buyers for Vincent’s paintings, playing a crucial role in posthumously establishing Van Gogh’s reputation as an extraordinary artist.

What happened to Van Gogh’s unsold paintings?

Many of Van Gogh’s unsold paintings were kept by his family after his death. Theo’s widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, played a significant role in preserving and promoting Vincent’s art. She continued to exhibit and sell his works, contributing to his posthumous fame.

Did Van Gogh ever express frustration about his lack of sales?

Yes, Van Gogh did express frustration and disappointment regarding his lack of sales and financial difficulties in his letters to Theo and others. He often struggled to comprehend why his art did not find wider appreciation during his lifetime.

How has Van Gogh’s art and legacy evolved since his death?

Since Van Gogh’s death, his art has become highly celebrated and sought after. His paintings are now considered masterpieces, and his unique artistic style and personal story continue to captivate audiences worldwide. His influence can be seen in numerous artistic movements, and his legacy has only grown stronger with time. Today, Van Gogh is regarded as one of the most iconic and influential artists in history.

Why Are Vincent Van Gogh’s Paintings So Valuable?

Vincent van Gogh was an extremely prolific artist who painted over 900 works of art during his short lifetime. His work is appealing, and his use of colors and brushstrokes help make his art genuinely unique. He inspired many art movements and artists; Van Gogh left us a legacy of his art and his letters and thoughts.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading Why Are Vincent Van Gogh’s Paintings So Valuable?.

Why Is Van Gogh Considered Such A Great Artist?

Many things make Vincent Van Gogh unique and great as an artist. He had a great way of using color in his heart, but more than that, he was an artist who set and paved the way, and his brushstroke technique used color and his design ability. What is interesting is that he did this as a self-taught artist.

By clicking here, you can discover more by reading Why Is Van Gogh Considered Such a Great Artist?

How Much Is Van Gogh’s Starry Night Worth?

Van Gogh used color, form, and emotions in his art. He had a bright palette that was individualized for his time. Even though he did not see a lot of success during his life after he died, the impact of his art can be seen in both the Expressionism and Fauvism movements that were taking place in Europe.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading How Much Is Van Gogh’s Starry Night Worth?, And Other Facts.

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