On This Day -  29th July 1890: Van Gogh dies

On this day 125 years ago Vincent Van Gogh died after shooting himself several days earlier. It was a tragic act in a troubled life and must have been extremely hard for his friends and family, particularly his brother, to live through. Regardless of how he left the world however, it does not forget him. Van Gogh’s remarkable paintings live on and continue to inspire generation after generation. 

L'église d'Auvers-sur-Oise

L’eglise d’Auvers su Oise, 1890
Vincent Van Gogh via Wikimedia Commons

I wrote a piece two months ago marking the day he moved to Auvers su Oise where he died and that article echos a lot of what I feel today. Suicide is always heartbreaking and so hard to understand. Van Gogh’s work illustrates this in such a bittersweet way and so below I have added in extracts from my previous article that touch upon this as it is more relevant today than ever. 


Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh 107

Self Portrait, 1888
Vincent Van Gogh via Wikimedia Commons


Vincent Van Gogh has always been one of my favourite painters. His extraordinary perspective of the world comes alive on his canvas and his works are some of the very very few that I can stare at for hours on end and fuel my imagination with the stories and ideas that flicked off his brush at every stroke. 

That being said, he was not a man at peace. His last words to his brother were remembered as “the sadness will live forever”. However much it might be seen as romanticising his final thoughts, they were remarkably prophetic. It is hard, even now, to look seriously at Van Gogh’s work without feeling a deep twinge of sadness at his troubled life. We all know people who have been through dark periods and spending time with his paintings brings that sadness right to the forefront of our minds. There is a beautiful disturbance to them that unsettles the heart. Instinct tugs at us to reach out and comfort a mind so torn by tumult but of course we cannot. We cannot reach through the canvas just as we cannot reach out and remove dark thoughts from friends minds. Helplessness breeds sorrow and so Van Gogh was right. Sadness will live forever. We cannot cure it, we cannot remove it. It is as part of this world as life and Van Gogh’s paintings will always remind us of that. 

For me, however, his paintings hold so much more than sorrow. They are windows into a fantasy world of infinite creativity. The style draws the eye in such a way that you feel your mind being drawn instinctively into their story. You twist and turn in the melds of colour, racing over the texture and sinking into the depth of emotion. Every glance is a new adventure, a new history, a new possibility, a new hope. There is always something different to explore when you look into his world. Some hidden mystery that your mind wasn’t ready to see before. His paintings may have come from torment but they will inspire creative souls for generations to come and however much the sadness continues to plague, that is quite something to remember.
Even in darkness there is always hope and light. 

VanGogh-starry night

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh
My favourite of Van Gogh’s paintings, stare deep into it’s depths and the great mysteries of the world start to unfold. Even in darkness there is always hope and light. 

© Isla Robertson 2017