Celebrate Vincent van Gogh’s Birthday with His Top 10 Paintings

And read what Van Gogh had to say about drunken night prowlers.

Vincent van Gogh, The Mulberry Tree (1889).
Image courtesy of Norton Simon Museum.
Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Sunflowers_-_VGM_F458

Vincent van Gogh, Sunflowers (1888).
Image via Wikipedia.

 

 

Vincent van Gogh was born on this day in 1843. We commemorate his birthday by revisiting some of his most coveted artworks (and our personal favorites).

1. Sunflowers, (1888)
Known as the painting Van Gogh was most proud of, the work was completed during a period of optimism as the artist awaited the arrival of his close friend and mentor, painter Paul Gauguin.

 

Vincent Van Gogh, Almond Tree (1890). Photo: vangoghmuseum.nl

Vincent van Gogh, Almond Blossom (1890).
Photo: vangoghmuseum.nl

2. Almond Blossom (1890)
The painting came to fruition as a gift to new-born nephew Vincent Willem, who bore the artist’s first name. The branches of the almond tree symbolize this new life. Vincent Willem went on to found the Van Gogh Museum.

 

Vincent van Gogh, The Mulberry Tree (1889). Image courtesy of Norton Simon Museum.

Vincent van Gogh, The Mulberry Tree (1889).
Image courtesy of the Norton Simon Art Foundation.

 

3. The Mulberry Tree (1889)
Painted during his time in the asylum of Saint-Rémy, Van Gogh profusely wrote about this painting in letters to his family.

 

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night (1889). Photo: moma.org

Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night (1889).
Photo: moma.org

4. Starry Night (1889)
“This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big,” Van Gogh once wrote to his brother Theo.

 

Vincent van Gogh, My Bedroom (1889).Image via Wikipedia

Vincent van Gogh, The Bedroom (1889).
Image via Wikipedia

5. The Bedroom (1888)The only record of the interior of Van Gogh’s Yellow House in Arles, France. “It’s just simply my bedroom,” he wrote, “only here color is to everything…to be suggestive here of rest or of sleep in general. In a word, looking at the picture ought to rest the brain, or rather the imagination.”

Vincent van Gogh, Irises (1889).Image via ibiblio.org

Vincent van Gogh, Irises (1889).
Image via ibiblio.org

 

6. Irises (1889)
Working from nature in the asylum’s garden, Van Gogh painted his beloved Irises. His brother wrote of the work, “It is a beautiful study full of air and life.”

 

Vincent van Gogh, Wheat Field with Cypresses (1889). Photo: metmuseum.org

Vincent van Gogh, Wheat Field with Cypresses (1889).
Photo: metmuseum.org

7. Wheat Field with Cypresses (1889)
One of his preferred summer canvases, Van Gogh wrote, “I have a canvas of cypresses with a few ears of wheat, poppies, a blue sky, which is like a multicolored Scotch plaid.”

 

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (1887). Photo: metmuseum.org

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (1887).
Photo: metmuseum.org

8. Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (1887)
The artist painted around 30 self-portraits during his time in Paris from 1886-1888. “I purposely bought a good enough mirror to work from myself,” he relayed, “for want of a model.”

 

Vincent van Gogh, The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, At Night (1889). Image via Huffington Post

Vincent van Gogh, The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, At Night (1889).
Image via Huffington Post

9. The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, At Night (1888)
In a letter to his sister, Van Gogh descriptively writes, “Here you have a night painting without black, with nothing but beautiful blue and violet and green and in this surrounding the illuminated area colors itself sulfur pale yellow and citron green.”

 

Vincent van Gogh, The Night CaféM (1888). Photo: vangoghgallery.com

Vincent van Gogh, The Night Café (1888).
Photo: vangoghgallery.com

10. The Night Café (1888)
“‘Night prowlers’ can take refuge there when they have no money to pay for a lodging, or are too drunk to be taken in,” Van Gogh explained to his brother in a letter dated August 1888 regarding this work.

 

In related news, 2015 also marks the 125th anniversary of the painter’s death. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam will build a new entrance and gift shop in memorial.


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