Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on the 30th of March 1853, in the Dutch village of Groot-Zundert. He was named after his brother who was born already dead exactly one year before. Perhaps because of this van Gogh had a dark disposition.
He began work at the age of 15 at his uncle's art dealership before being transferred to a gallery in London 5 years later. There he developed a liking for English culture - and a love of his landlady's daughter. When she rejected van Gogh's proposal of marriage he suffered a breakdown and was dismissed from his employment.
Van Gogh then aimed for a career in the church but was twice rejected so he turned his mind to art. He enjoyed little success and was supported by his brother during these years.
His love life a complete disaster, van Gogh's mental health suffered once more. He argued passionately with his contemporaries about their paintings and became alienated amongst them.
In 1888 he moved to Arles in the south of France where his greatest works were created - although his mental health declined and he mutilated his ear before voluntarily being admitted to a psychiatric hospital where he spent one year.
On the 27th of July 1890, van Gogh shot himself in the chest. The wound did not kill him and he was discovered and taken to hospital. His brother Theo was called for and two days later van Gogh died in his brother's arms at the age of just 37.
Despite his harsh life, his poverty, his struggle with mental illness and his failure to achieve recognition during his lifetime, van Gogh is today considered one of the best Dutch painters, second only to Rembrandt. He created over 2,000 paintings in his short, yet productive life.