1853 Vincent Willem van Gogh is born on 30 March in Groot-Zundert, Markt 26.
1855 Birth of his sister Anna
1857 Birth of his brother Theodore (Theo)
1859 Birth of his sister Elisabeth (Lies)
1862 Birth of his sister Willemien (Will)
1867 Birth of his brother Cornelis (Cor)
Van Gogh’s parents, Dutch Reformed Church minister Theodorus van Gogh and Anna Cornelia Carbentus. Van Gogh is raised in a devout and strict environment.
Van Gogh attends a boarding school for boys run by Jan Provily at Zandweg A40 in Zevenbergen (white building on left).
Van Gogh attends the Willem II high school in Tilburg. He lodges with the Hannik family at Korvel 57.
Korvelsche weg, Tilburg, where Van Gogh boards with a devout family from the Dutch Reformed Church.
Van Gogh’s art dealer uncle Vincent (‘Uncle Cent’), for whom he is named, arranges a job for him as a clerk with the prominent Paris art firm Goupil & Cie, in The Hague branch established by Cent in the 1830s. Cent also owns an art supply shop in The Hague.
January The Van Gogh family moves from Zundert to Helvoirt, where the Reverend Van Gogh has been transferred. They live at Torenstraat 47.
January Theo starts working for Goupil & Cie in Brussels. In recent months the two brothers have embarked on what will become a life-long correspondence.
Van Gogh visits his uncle Cornelis Marinus van Gogh (‘Uncle Cor’), another art dealer, in Amsterdam.
Van Gogh sees Cent’s art collection and explores the museums, including the Trippenhuis, home of the National Museum.
May Van Gogh visits the Paris Salon, the Louvre and the Musée du Luxembourg before his transfer to Goupil & Cie’s branch in London.
May Van Gogh visits the Wallace collection of French paintings on view at the newly built Bethnal Green Museum.
One of the nicest things I’ve seen here is Rotten Row in Hyde Park, which is a long, broad avenue where hundreds of ladies and gentlemen go riding.
Van Gogh to Willem and Caroline van Stockum-Haanebeek, London, July 1873
7 August Van Gogh walks to the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
I had a nice day last Monday … I went with one of the Germans to Dulwich, an hour and a half outside L., to see the museum there, and afterwards we walked to a village about an hour further on. The countryside here is so beautiful.
Van Gogh to Willem and Caroline van Stockum-Haanebeek, London, August 1873
16 June Van Gogh visits the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
There are beautiful things at the Royal Academy this year; among others Tissot has 3 paintings.
Van Gogh to Theo, London, June 1874
August Van Gogh visits Helvoirt and returns to London with his sister Anna, who is seeking work as a teacher. They live together with the Parker family at 395 Kennington Road, Kennington, South London.
January Van Gogh is sent by Goupil & Cie to work at the London gallery Holloway & Sons, 25 Bedford Street, The Strand, which the firm has just acquired. He later writes:
Our gallery is now finished and it is beautiful.
Van Gogh to Theo, London, January/March 1875
May Van Gogh is transferred back to Paris and lives in Montmartre. He visits a Camille Corot exhibition and the major galleries.
July Van Gogh makes a pilgrimage to Ville-d’Avray, where he sees his hero Camille Corot’s murals in a local church.
October The Reverend Van Gogh is called to a new ministry at Etten and moves his family from Helvoirt.
January Van Gogh is dismissed from Goupil & Cie, Paris.
April He travels to Ramsgate, Kent, to teach at William Stokes’s boarding school for boys.
October–November Van Gogh preaches at the Wesleyan Methodist churches in Richmond, Petersham and Isleworth, and also volunteers at the Reverend Thomas Slade-Jones’s Congregational Church in Turnham Green.
December Van Gogh is not a successful preacher and returns to Holland.
January Van Gogh finds work as an assistant in the Blussé & Braam bookshop, Dordrecht. He lives with a corn merchant in Tolbrugstraat.
Last Sunday, and today as well, we took a lovely walk along the canals and outside town as well, along the river Merwede. We also passed the place where you waited for the boat.
Van Gogh to Theo, Dordrecht, January 1877
On this man will I look, saith the Lord, even on him that is poor and needy and sorrowful.
Van Gogh to Theo, Dordrecht, February 1877
May Van Gogh visits The Hague with Theo, where they see their cousin by marriage, the Realist painter Anton Mauve (1838–1888).
May Van Gogh moves to Amsterdam to train in theology and Latin. He lives with his uncle Jan van Gogh, director of the naval dockyard, at Grote Kattenburgerstraat 3.
September Van Gogh transcribes Thomas à Kempis’s De imitatione Christi from the French.
He visits the Trippenhuis, Amsterdam, which houses the Dutch national collection while the new Rijksmuseum is being built, and studies Rembrandt’s etchings.
August Van Gogh goes to Brussels to receive formal evangelical training, but is dismissed in November. He then works as a lay preacher among the miners in the Borinage, an impoverished area in the Walloon province of Hainaut in Belgium.
March Van Gogh walks from his parents’ home in Etten to Courrières, northern France, to see the studio of painter Jules Breton, but is too shy to introduce himself.
August After much discussion with Theo, Van Gogh decides to become an artist.
October Van Gogh moves to Brussels, finding lodgings at 72 boulevard du Midi.
Theo advises Van Gogh to visit the aristocratic young painter Anthon van Rappard (1858–1892), who is living in Brussels.
December Van Gogh enrols in drawing classes at the Académie royale des beaux-arts Bruxelles, but whether he attends is uncertain.
February Goupil & Cie appoints Theo manager of their main branch at 19 boulevard Montmartre in Paris. From this point he assumes responsibility for Van Gogh’s upkeep with regular payments.
February Van Gogh has painting lessons and also works in Van Rappard’s studio. Van Rappard will later visit Van Gogh at his family’s home in Etten.
July Van Gogh falls in love with his cousin, Cornelia ‘Kee’ Vos, a widow, who is staying with his family. He proposes to her but is turned down.
Kee Vos Stricker (1846–1918) and her son, c. 1879 (photo by Albert Greiner)
Late November Van Gogh sends his relative Anton Mauve a drawing. He visits The Hague, where Mauve teaches him principles of watercolour and oil painting.
Late December After arguing with his father during a visit to Etten, Van Gogh moves to The Hague, now relying solely on Theo for financial support.
‘Prisoner’s Gate’, Buitenhof, near the Prince William V Gallery of eighteenth-century art, The Hague.
Late December After Christmas Van Gogh sets up his studio in rented rooms at Schenkweg 138 in The Hague.
I’ve rented a studio here, namely a room and alcove which can be made suitable. Inexpensive enough, just outside town in Schenkweg.
Van Gogh to Theo, The Hague, December 1881
January Van Gogh receives more training from Mauve and joins the Pulchri Studio artists’ society.
Mauve has promised to recommend me for an associate membership of Pulchri, because there I’d be able to draw from a model two evenings a week and would have more contact with artists.
Van Gogh to Theo, The Hague, January 1882
Van Gogh encounters the pregnant ex-prostitute Sien Hoornik, who becomes his regular model.
June Van Gogh tells Theo that he has collected more than a thousand prints, mostly from English and French illustrated magazines.
June/July Van Gogh is treated in a Hague hospital for gonorrhoea.
July Van Gogh’s companion Sien and her two children (a five-year-old daughter, Maria, and baby son, Willem) move into his rooms at Schenkweg.
Van Gogh has a perspective frame made, to help him represent objects in correct proportion at varying distances.
Early August Van Gogh writes to Theo from The Hague which includes this sketch of him using his perspectival frame on the windy beach and dunes of Scheveningen.
The northern coastal fishing village of Scheveningen, near The Hague, attracts many young artists but Van Gogh decides it is too expensive to rent there.
An idea came to me for making figures from the people for the people.
Van Gogh to Theo, The Hague, December 1882
The Mauritshuis, The Hague, where Van Gogh studied the work of the seventeenth-century landscape painter Jacob van Ruisdael.
December Van Gogh moves to Nuenen to live with his parents, who convert the laundry wing of the parsonage into a studio for him.
Do you know what I sometimes long for? A trip to Brabant. I would so like to do the old churchyard at Nuenen.
Van Gogh to Theo, The Hague, June 1883
Late July Van Gogh writes to Theo that he considers all his artistic output to be Theo’s property.
August Van Gogh receives visits from Theo and Van Rappard and sends many drawings to his Uncle Cor, who accepts them on commission.
January Van Gogh proposes to give Theo works of art in exchange for a monthly allowance, which he will regard as his earnings.
Early May In need of a more a conducive workplace, Van Gogh rents rooms from the Catholic sacristan Johannes Schafrat in Nuenen to use as a studio.
Two rooms – one large and one small – en suite. … I believe I’ll be able to work a good deal more pleasantly there than in the little room at home.
Van Gogh to Theo, Nuenen, May 1884
Mid November Van Gogh begins teaching local pupils met at the artist materials shop in Eindhoven run by a local chemist, Jantje L. Baijens.
He passes on his new-found knowledge of still life painting, learned from Mauve, to Hermans, a local tanner named Anton Kerssemakers and a telegraph operator, Willem van de Wakker.
The chemist, art supplies and interior furnishings shop, J. L. Baijens & Zonen, Eindhoven, where Van Gogh meets his future pupils.
Anton Kerssemakers (1846–1924) in his Eindhoven studio. Kerssemakers was decorating the walls of his office with landscapes at the time Van Gogh met him.
Willem van de Wakker. Van de Wakker’s pictures were being framed at the Baijens artist supplies shop when Van Gogh ‘discovered’ him.
While walking in the countryside around Nuenen, Van Gogh often encountered herdsmen driving and tending their livestock, and farmers working the land. He incorporated these subjects into his work for Antoon Hermans.
Shepherd in Drenthe.
In Nuenen Van Gogh is fascinated with the colour theories of the French Romantic artist Eugène Delacroix. However, Theo tries to persuade him to adopt a brighter palette akin to that of the Impressionists. Instead, Van Gogh works in even darker colours and tones for the landscapes he paints in Nuenen.
Early May Van Gogh argues with his sister Anna and leaves home, to live in the studio he has rented from Schafrat.
June Van Gogh completes The potato eaters, which he sends to Theo, along with many other paintings.
He continues to read widely on art history and technique.
Late August Van Gogh sends nineteen paintings to the artist materials merchant Wilhelmus Leurs to display for sale in his shop in The Hague. Sadly none find a buyer.
October Van Gogh and his pupil/friend Kerssemakers spend three days in Amsterdam, visiting the newly opened Rijksmuseum, designed by the Catholic architect Pierre Cuypers. They also see the Fodor Collection of contemporary and mid nineteenth-century art. Van Gogh keeps sending Theo paintings.
The new Rijksmuseum, 1876–85, by Pierre Cuypers (1827–1921)
Late January Malnourished, Van Gogh has about ten teeth cut down, and notes he looks prematurely aged, ‘over 40, which puts me at too much of a disadvantage’. He tells Theo that I ‘look as though I’ve spent 10 years in prison’.
Van Gogh joins two further night classes to draw from the model. Dissatisfied with this traditional training, he thinks about going to Paris to draw in the more progressive studio of Fernand Corman. He soon leaves Antwerp for Paris.
1886 John Russell paints and draws Van Gogh’s portrait.
Late February Van Gogh arrives in Paris and moves in with Theo at 25 rue Laval in Montmartre.
Le Chat Noir on rue Laval, later re-named rue Victor Massé.
The nightclubs in Van Gogh’s neighbourhood.
Van Gogh discovers the collection of Japanese woodblock prints assembled by German-born dealer Siegfried Bing. Bing will later open the Maison de l’Art Nouveau in 1895.
March – early June Van Gogh attends the studio of Fernand Cormon at 104 boulevard de Clichy, where he meets the Australian painter John Peter Russell, Louis Anquetin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, among others.
Atelier Cormon, 1885–86. In the foreground at left is Toulouse-Lautrec.
From 1886–87, unable to tolerate formal art classes nor able to find regular models to sit for him, Van Gogh decides to bring himself up to date with recent art movements by applying the principles of each movement to flower paintings.
By painting still lifes Van Gogh systematically teaches himself about Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism, colour theory and the rich use of colour by the Marseilles artist Adolphe Monticelli (1824–1886).
As Paris is the centre of the French flower trade, Van Gogh has access to a wide range of flowers from the Paris street stalls and markets. Friends bring Van Gogh flowers to help with his ‘campaign’.
As you may know, I am living with my brother Vincent, who is studying painting with indefatigable diligence. Since he needs quite a lot of space for his work, we are living in quite a large apartment in Montmartre (rue Lepic 54) which, as you know, is a suburb of Paris built up against a hill. The remarkable thing about our flat is that from the windows we have a magnificent view across the city with the hills of Meudon, St-Cloud etc. on the horizon, and a piece of sky above it that is almost as big as when one stands on the dunes.
Theo to Caroline van Stockum-Haanebeek, Paris, July 1887
1886–87 Van Gogh paints with tremendous speed and produces dozens of flower pictures in the two years he spends in Paris.
Van Gogh probably visits the eighth and final Impressionists Exhibition at 1 rue Lafitte, where he would have seen recent works by Degas, Gauguin, Seurat and Signac.
At the art supply shop of Julien (Père) Tanguy, Van Gogh meets the painter Émile Bernard, who introduces him to the painter Louis Anquetin. Van Gogh acquaints his new friends with Siegfried Bing’s Japanese collection and also meets the Neo-Impressionist painter Charles Angrand.
Van Gogh will refer to the young painter friends he makes in Paris as the artists of the ‘Petit Boulevard’, because their studios and cafés are located around the boulevard de Clichy and the boulevard de Rochechouart in Montmartre.
He names the older generation of financially successful Impressionists the artists of the ‘Grand Boulevard’. These artists exhibit with renowned galleries such as Boussod, Valadon & Cie, Durand-Ruel and Georges Petit along the fashionable boulevards near the Opera.
September–October Van Gogh displays his work in the shop of his art materials supplier, Père Tanguy, at 14 rue Clauzel. He sells at least one painting there. He also exhibits work with the dealers Pierre Firmin Martin and Georges Thomas.
Autumn–winter Van Gogh meets up regularly with fellow artists at Toulouse-Lautrec’s weekly gatherings in his studio.
February–March Van Gogh stages an exhibition of Japanese prints from his own collection at Le Tambourin, a restaurant managed by his love-interest, Agostina Segatori. He also starts to display his flower paintings in the café.
Le Tambourin was located in the building at the left (here named Cabaret des Quat’z’Arts) until 1887.
March Van Gogh most likely visits the Exposition de la Société des Artistes Indépendants and the Paris Salon.
April–May After many years of resisting modern trends in contemporary French art, Van Gogh begins to embrace the techniques of Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painters. His palette lightens and his brushstroke becomes more vigorous.
Van Gogh and Theo visit the VIe Exposition internationale de peinture et sculpture at the Georges Petit gallery. Van Gogh visits the Millet retrospective at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
November – December Van Gogh organises an exhibition at the Grand Bouillon Restaurant on the avenue de Clichy, displaying work by ‘painters of the Petit Boulevard’: Anquetin, Bernard, Arnold Konig, Toulouse-Lautrec and himself. Georges Seurat and Paul Gauguin visit the exhibition.
December Gauguin arranges for himself and Van Gogh to exchange paintings.
Winter – Spring Van Gogh exhibits a painting at the Théâtre Libre, an experimental theatre located at 96 rue Blanche, Paris, and managed by André Antoine, for whom the avant-garde designs posters.
December Van Gogh is thought to have visited an exhibition of work by Gauguin, Armand Guillaumin and Camille Pissarro organised by his brother Theo at the Boussod, Valadon & Cie gallery, Boulevard Montmartre.
January Van Gogh probably visits the exhibition of pastels by Edgar Degas and paintings by Gauguin, organised by Theo at Boussod, Valadon & Cie.
February Van Gogh and Theo visit the studio of Seurat. After visiting Seurat, Van Gogh departs for Arles in the South of France the same day.
Vincent left for the south last Sunday, first to Arles to get his bearings and then probably on to Marseille. The new school of painters tries above all to get light and sun into paintings, and you can well understand that the grey days lately have supplied little material for subjects. Moreover, the cold was making him ill. The years of so much worry and adversity haven’t made him any stronger, and he felt a definite need for rather milder air. A day and a night’s travel and one is there.
Theo to his sister Willemien, Paris, February 1888
February Van Gogh arrives in Arles during one of the coldest Februaries on record. The snow lasts until March. Once the weather turns he is captivated by the blossoming trees in the orchards.
Now I’ll tell you that for a start, there’s been a snowfall of at least 60 centimetres all over, and it’s still snowing. Arles doesn’t seem any bigger than Breda or Mons to me.
Van Gogh to Theo, Arles, February 1888
May Van Gogh rents the east wing of the ‘Yellow House’ (2 place Lamartine). He establishes a studio and continues to send drawings to Theo. He imagines creating a new colony of young artists based in the South of France.
I leave early tomorrow morning for Saintes-Maries, on the Mediterranean; I’ll stay there till Saturday evening. I’m taking two canvases but I’m a little afraid there could well be too much wind to paint. You go by diligence, it’s 50 kilometres from here. You cross the Camargue, grassy plains where there are herds of bulls and herds of small white horses, half-wild and quite beautiful.
Van Gogh to Theo, Arles, May 1888
I sent you some more drawings today, and I’m adding two more. They’re views taken from a rocky hill from which you can see in the direction of the Crau (an area from which a very good wine comes), the town of Arles and in the direction of Fontvieille. The contrast between the wild and romantic foreground – and the broad, tranquil distant prospects … is very picturesque.
Van Gogh to Theo, Arles, May 1888
July–August Van Gogh returns to Fontvieille. He begins an exchange of drawings with his friend Bernard and also sends drawings to Russell. He sends thirty-six paintings to Theo via a friend.
Late October Van Gogh eagerly awaits the arrival in Arles of Paul Gauguin. He eventually comes to Arles and briefly moves into the Yellow House.
23 December Van Gogh suffers an extreme mental breakdown. He cuts off a large part of his ear with a razor and is admitted to hospital the following day.
January Theo becomes engaged to Jo Bonger.
After recovering from his self inflicted wounds, Van Gogh leaves hospital. Soon after, he suffers a further breakdown and returns to hospital. His erratic behaviour is noted in the small town of Arles and his neighbours petition the authorities to commit him to an asylum.
March–May Theo and Jo Bonger marry, but Van Gogh is not invited to the wedding.
Despite his setbacks, Van Gogh is productive and sends Theo around thirty paintings.
In May, Van Gogh persuades Theo to provide him with the funds to be admitted to the asylum of Saint-Paul de Mausole in Saint-Rémy, 25 kilometres north-east of Arles.
December Van Gogh sends Theo seven paintings for his mother and Willemien. He sends further pictures to Theo before his health deteriorates further. He attempts to poison himself by eating paint.
January The year begins badly as Van Gogh suffers a further breakdown. Jo Bonger van Gogh gives birth to a son, who is named Vincent Willem.
Van Gogh’s work is included in a prestigious exhibition in Brussels, the 8th exhibition of Les XX, and one of his paintings is bought by the Belgian Impressionist artist Anna Boch for 400 francs.
March/April No fewer than ten paintings by Van Gogh are included in the 6th exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants in Paris. His paintings are seen alongside works by Seurat, Signac, Henri Edmond Cross, Boch, Maximilien Luce and Henri Rousseau.
Mid May Van Gogh suddenly leaves Saint-Rémy. He travels to Paris and meets Jo and his nephew for the first time. He spends only three nights in the city.
Late May After his short stay in Paris, Van Gogh settles in Auvers-sur-Oise, just north of Paris. He finds lodgings at the Auberge Ravoux, place de la Mairie, and places himself in the care of Dr Paul Ferdinand Gachet, who has been recommended to him by Theo.
May Dr Paul Ferdinand Gachet is a specialist in melancholic conditions, and is an aspiring artist, signing himself ‘Paul van Ryssel’.
Gachet has many artist friends, including Pissarro, Cezanne and Guillaumin. He oversaw Renoir’s recovery from pneumonia in 1882, and advised Manet against the amputation of his leg in 1883.
A generous host, Gachet and his family, home and garden were often depicted by his artist-friends.
June Van Gogh paints in and around Auvers-sur-Oise virtually from the day he arrives. He loves the countryside around Auvers and is again captivated by the farmland, especially the wheatfields.
Aside from painting landscapes, Van Gogh returns to figure studies and portraiture.
Van Gogh paints furiously and completes around seventy paintings in the short time he spends in Auvers.
27 July Van Gogh is greatly troubled towards the end of July. He is concerned for his brother and his new family as well as dealing with his own issues. He goes to paint in a wheatfield on the outskirts of Auvers and shoots himself in the chest. He does not die immediately and Theo rushes to Auvers and sits with him for his last hours.
29 July Vincent van Gogh dies in the arms of his brother early in the morning.
Van Gogh – A Timeline, was produced for the exhibition, Van Gogh and the Seasons. Click through the slides to read about Van Gogh’s life, see the cities he lived in, the development of his work and much more.