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The story behind Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’, a piece of art that almost never happens

Before finding his true style, Van Gogh was about to leave painting for good.

When people talk about Vincent Van Gogh they often think almost instantly of his prolific ‘Starry Night’, but before the Dutch painter found his signature style, he went through a journey to forge his essence as an artist. Within his artwork can be appreciated paintings that led him to the impressionist style experienced during his stay in Arles, France.

Vincent van Gogh was born in the Netherlands in 1853 and although he expressed interest in art since he was a child, he went through other professions before consolidating himself as a painter. During his artistic career in his native country, Van Gogh did not see any success, so in 1886 he decided to join his brother Theo, who was an art dealer in Paris.

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Unfortunately, he also found no success in the French capital and even wrote a few lines about it in a letter to Theo in 1888: “It seems to me almost impossible to be able to work in Paris, unless you have a refuge in which to recuperate and regain peace and composure, without that, you would be obliged to become completely numb.”

The painter’s pilgrimage did not end there. In search of this “peace of mind”, Van Gogh headed south and stayed in the idyllic commune of Arles. It was during his stay in Arles that he developed his characteristic style, with a palette full of vivid color and expressive brushstrokes that one could almost swear twinkled like stars.

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The prelude to the Starry Night

One of the works that marked the prelude to ‘Starry Night’ is one that bears a very similar title and is almost unknown. It is the ‘Starry Night on the Rhone’ that Van Gogh painted from the banks of the important river that runs through Europe.

The landscape was ideal for the painter who was experimenting with his bold brushstrokes and livelier color palette. The perfect combination was undoubtedly the reflected lights from the gas lamps in the water of the river, which gave Van Gogh a great landscape to work with. His energetic brushstrokes are the preamble that he later used in his best-known work, but they were forged earlier with this work of the Rhone River, although his mental turmoil was not yet reflected.

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A turning point

Towards the end of his stay in Arles, the painter reached a turning point that would lead to the tragic incident of losing his ear. During this time Van Gogh’s mental stability was already very questionable and by his own decision, he moved away from the site to the Saint-Rémy-de-Provence mental health center.

It was precise during his stay at the institute that the painter contradictorily found his purest essence as an artist. It was there that he completed 150 paintings, including his famous ‘Starry Night’, the peak of his consolidation.

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Finally, on July 27, 1890, Vincent van Gogh died of a gunshot to the head in circumstances that are still unclear to this day.

Story originally published in Ecoosfera

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