Three things I learned about Vincent Van Gogh from reading Van Gogh by Pierre Cabanne, © 1961:
- When Van Gogh took up painting, late in life, he began by taking lessons, visiting museums to study the works of the masters, and inviting established artists to critique his work. In the popular imagination he simply sat down at his canvas and let the genius flow forth– and there was an element of that– but he had carefully laid the foundation.
- He didn’t cut off his whole ear, just the tip of his earlobe. That’s still disturbing and indicative of a troubled mind, but far less ghastly than if he had lopped off the whole thing.
- While it is true he sold only a single painting while alive, his career had a major breakthrough shortly before his suicide. A respected art critic had published a glowing review of his work, and he was being contacted by other successful painters who were intrigued by his work and wanted to meet him and exchange paintings. He had several public exhibitions which were widely attended and brought positive attention. He had every objective reason to be optimistic.