The Dutch artist, Vincent van Gogh is celebrated for his originality and his passionate devotion to his art. Though almost totally unappreciated during his lifetime, his paintings have since proved enormously influential and remain hugely popular.
An intense, troubled character, Van Gogh worked for his uncle's firm of art dealers, and spent time as a teacher and an evangelical preacher before resolving to become an artist in 1880. Although his artistic career lasted only a decade, he created some 1,000 paintings and drawings.
His letters to his brother Theo, who supported him, give vivid insights into his life and art. Van Gogh's early drawings and paintings are dark and sombre. But when he moved to Paris in 1886, after some time studying art in Antwerp, his style changed completely.
Inspired by the Impressionists and Japanese prints, he began to use bright colours, applied with thick, energetic brushstrokes. Van Gogh moved on from the naturalism of Impressionism, and is a one of the key figures of Post-Impressionism. For him, colour became a means of emotional expression.
In 1888, Van Gogh lived in Arles in the South of France, where he was briefly joined by Gauguin. In 1890, he committed suicide.
Among his most famous works are The Potato Eaters, Starry Night and Sunflowers. His powerful self portraits are greatly admired.
Thumbnail credit: Vincent van Gogh, Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear (detail), 1889, oil on canvas, The Courtauld Gallery
Photo credit: The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London