Why Vincent Van Gogh Was Not Appreciated During His Lifetime?

Today Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most popular Post-impressionist painters ever to live. Van Gogh is always listed in the top ten artists to have ever lived.

Vincent Van Gogh was not widely known or appreciated during his lifetime. Vincent Van Gogh died too young. His style and type of work, including techniques, choice of colors, and even subject matter, were very new for his time.

Vincent Van Gogh Died Too Young

The fact that Vincent Van Gogh died too young is one of the key reasons why he was not appreciated during his lifetime.

It takes time for an artist to become famous and develop a following. From when Vincent Van Gogh started painting to when he died, it was only ten years. Many people did not know about nor had they seen his work.

We must also remember that Van Gogh lived when there was no internet, social media, television, or a way for people to see things unless they physically saw them. Because of this, it is also hard for artists to become well-known in a short period.

Van Gogh’s Mental Illness Was Affecting Him And His Work

Vincent Van Gogh had mental illness to such an extent that it affected his work. There were days and even large periods when he could not work on his art.

His mental illness also affected his work and ability to paint and ensured his work was not appreciated during his lifetime.

In one of Theo’s letters, we could see how Van Gogh had mental illness,

“It is now more than a month since I received a letter from Vincent’s own hand. The doctor wrote the last time that it is still very rare for him to be his old self. He usually sits with his head in his hands, and if someone speaks to him, it is as though it hurts him, and he gestures for them to leave him alone. How sad that condition is, and Dr Peyron says that although he has hope that the crisis will soon be over, it will leave its mark on his constitution. If only we could do something for him, but having him come here would be irresponsible unless one were sure that there is not one moment of danger that the crisis will return during the journey or while here. It is such a pity, just now when he is having such success with his work. Many people have taken notice of his work.”

Theo Van Gogh, Letter to His Mother and Sister – 15 april 1890

Vincent Van Gogh’s Style And Look Was Very New For His Era

Vincent Van Gogh’s use of colors, styles and even subject matter was very new for his time. During most of his life, the Impressionists were famous, but their look and style were very different than Vincent Van Gogh’s art style.

Unlike Van Gogh, many Impressionists used a very soft color palette. The Impressionists also painted a different style and looked from Van Gogh’s.

We can say that Van Gogh was not appreciated during his lifetime as his look, style, colors, and subject matter were ahead of his time.

Vincent Van Gogh Was Starting To Gain Popularity When He Died

The tragedy of Vincent Van Gogh was that when he died, he was finally starting to gain popularity, appreciation, and success.

In the Spring of 1890, a few months before his death, Theo had some of Vincent’s paintings in an exhibition. The images and his work of art had a good response. Theo wrote this to Vincent about his artwork and what others were saying:

“Your paintings at the exhibition are very successful. The other day Duez stopped me in the street and said, give my compliments to your brother and tell him that his paintings are quite remarkable. Monet said that your paintings were the best in the exhibition. Many other artists have spoken to me about them. Serret came to the house to see the other canvases and was delighted. He says that if he didn’t have a genre in which he still had things to say he would change and search along the path where you’re searching.”Theo Van Gogh to Vincent Van Gogh – 23 April 1890

Vincent Van Gogh Only Sold A Few Paintings During His Entire Lifetime

Vincent Van Gogh only sold a few paintings during his lifetime. We know one and possibly two paintings that were sold during this lifetime.

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

The one painting we know that he sold in 1890, about six months before Vincent Van Gogh’s death, was called The Red Vineyard. The painting sold for 400 francs to Anna Boch, a fellow artist and friend of Vincent Van Gogh.

Whatever the number of paintings he sold, we know it was not a very large number of paintings. It must have been highly discouraging for Vincent Van Gogh to paint so much and not have the paintings appreciated or sold during his lifetime.

Vincent Van Gogh Memorial Exhibition

Six weeks after Vincent Van Gogh’s death, Theo organized a memorial exhibition of his brother Vincent’s work.

Theo had exerted himself and had a lot of setbacks in life that caused his health to deteriorate. Shortly after the exhibit of Vincent’s work, Theo resigned from his work at the art gallery Boussod and suffered a nervous breakdown.

Theo Van Gogh

Theo had been unhappy at Boussod since about 1886 as he felt that his work was not appreciated; Theo had plans to go out on his own. These plans were deterred when his brother Vincent died, and his health deteriorated.

Theo was admitted to a clinic in Utrecht, suffering from both physical and mental symptoms of the syphilis-related disease.

Jo Van Gogh- Bonger Raises Appreciation And Awareness Of Vincent’s Work

Theo never had time to generate appreciation for Vincent Van Gogh and his work. Theo died just six months after Vincent in January 1891.

Thanks to Theo’s widow Jo Van Gogh – Bonger, for having the insight and business savvy; because of her, we know about Vincent Van Gogh today. Jo worked hard to raise public awareness and appreciation for Vincent Van Gogh and his work.

Johanna van Gogh – Bonger

Jo raised the awareness and appreciation of Vincent Van Gogh’s work through exhibit loans to museums worldwide. More and more buyers who wanted to buy an original Vincent Van Gogh painting came forward.

In 1914, Jo published the first edition of the letters between Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo. She also had Theo reinterred in Auvers-Sur-Oise in a grave alongside his beloved brother Vincent.

You can read more about Jo Van Gogh – Bonger and her role in helping raise awareness and appreciation of Vincent Van Gogh by reading our blog How Did Vincent Van Gogh’s Paintings Become Famous? by clicking here.

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!

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What Are Vincent Van Gogh’s Paintings In The Louvre Museum?

The Lourve Museum does not have many Vincent Van Gogh Paintings; if you want to see some Vincent Van Gogh paintings in Paris, France, you should visit the Musee d’Orsay. The best place to see the most significant number of artwork by Vincent Van Gogh and to learn about his life is at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading What Are Vincent Van Gogh’s Paintings In The Louvre Museum?.

What Was The Impact Of Vincent Van Gogh On The Art World?

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 What Was The Impact Of Vincent Van Gogh On The Art World?.

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 about all this 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?.

Anita Louise Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Louise Hummel. I am an artist and a blogger. I paint mainly oil paints. I love to paint women, animals (mainly dogs and cats), and abstracts. I use a lot of gold and silver leaf in my paintings. I also love to blog about anything to do with art, business, Procreate, and all the wonderful artists that inspire me.

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Why Vincent Van Gogh Was Not Appreciated During His Lifetime?