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History lesson

The life of Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh's artistic career began in earnest in the late 1870s after a series of unsuccessful stints as an art dealer, a teacher, and a lay preacher. Initially, his artwork focused on somber and dark themes inspired by the Dutch countryside and the lives of peasants. His early works, such as "The Potato Eaters" (1885), showcase his interest in capturing the harsh realities of rural life, marked by earthy tones and rough brushwork.

In 1886, Van Gogh moved to Paris, where he was exposed to the vibrant art scene and the works of the Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists, this period profoundly influenced his artistic style, as he began to experiment with brighter colors and lighter brushstrokes, inspired by artists like Claude Monet and Georges Seurat.

Van Gogh's time in Arles, in the south of France, marked a particularly productive period in his artistic career. The region's landscape and light inspired some of his most famous works, including "The Yellow House" (1888) and "Sunflowers" (1888). During this time, he also painted one of his most iconic pieces, "Starry Night Over the Rhône" (1888), which captures the night sky with swirling brushstrokes and vivid colors.

Throughout his life, Van Gogh struggled with mental health issues, which have been speculated to include bipolar disorder, epilepsy, and possibly Schizotypal Personality Disorder. A pattern of social and interpersonal deficits, eccentric behavior, and thinking characterizes the latter condition. Though it is impossible to definitively diagnose Van Gogh with this disorder, some of his documented behaviors and experiences, such as social isolation, intense preoccupations, and a sense of being driven by forces beyond his control, do align with the characteristics of Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

In December 1888, Van Gogh experienced a mental breakdown, culminating in the infamous incident in which he severed part of his own ear. After this event, he voluntarily admitted himself to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where he continued to create art during his year-long stay. Some of his most renowned paintings from this period include "The Irises" (1889) and "Starry Night" (1889), which showcase his ability to imbue his work with a sense of emotional intensity, even during his darkest moments.

In 1890, van Gogh moved to Auvers-sur-Oise, a village near Paris, where he continued to paint prolifically. However, his mental health continued to decline, and on July 27, 1890, he tragically took his own life at the age of 37.

Jake, Heywise Staff

Quiz WriterJake, Heywise Staff

<p>Jake didn’t think he’d become a writer when he was growing up in southern Saskatchewan, Canada, but fate had another idea. After barely squeaking through grade 9 English, by the luck of the draw Jake found himself with the most inspiring literature instructor his small town had ever known, and grade 10 English changed his life! Suddenly, evenings once spent at the hockey rink were spent curled up on the couch with the best of Hemingway, Dickens, and John Grisham. A valedictorian address and English degree at the University of Regina later, Jake is proud to call Heywise his favorite place to pen informative quizzes about all his passion projects. If you’re reading a post and pick up a hint of classic English literature, you’re probably reading something by Jake - especially if you come away feeling like a slightly better person for it.</p>

Did you know?

You might recognize a few people who have Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Marked by feelings of magical thinking and eccentric living, those with Schizotypal Personality Disorder tend to have a hard time in relationships. Sometimes stemming from childhood trauma and neglect, those with the disorder tend to live in their own worlds and have very few social connections. While the condition was once considered rare, recent studies have shown that around 4% of the population lives with the disorder, and the number is growing. Other types of personality disorders (Bipolar and Borderline) have often taken center stage, but the paranoid symptoms and lack of trust tend to run deeper with Schizotypal Disorder. If you have the disorder, you should know you're not alone. Some very famous people are also said to have lived with it. Some of those include Vincent Van Gogh, Emily Dickinson, and Willy Wonka. Although Wonka is a fictional figure, his "world of pure imagination" indicates the associated symptoms and traits.

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