The story behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

When we talk about Vincent Van Gogh, we often think almost instantly of his prolific work ‘The Starry Night’, but before the Dutch painter found his characteristic style, he went through a journey to forge his essence as an artist. Within his work you can see paintings that were directed to the experienced impressionist during his stay in Arles, France.

Vincent van Gogh was born in the Netherlands in 1853 and although he expressed his interest in art from a very young age, he went through other professions before establishing himself as a painter. During his artistic stay in his native country, Van Gogh did not observe any success so in 1886 he decided to join his brother Theo, who was an art dealer in Paris.

Unfortunately, he did not find success in the French capital either and even wrote a few lines about it in a letter to Theo in 1888: “It seems almost impossible to me to be able to work in Paris, unless you have a refuge in which to recover and regain tranquility and peace.” composure, without that, you would be bound 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 signature style, with a palette full of vivid color and expressive brushstrokes that one can 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 has a very similar title and is almost unknown. This is the ‘Starry Night over the Rhône’ that Van Gogh painted from the bank of the important river that runs through Europe.

The landscape was ideal for the painter who was experimenting with his bold brush strokes and a more lively color palette. The perfect combination was undoubtedly the reflected lights of the gas lamps in the river, which gave Van Gogh a great landscape to work with. His energetic brushstrokes constitute the preamble that he later used in his best-known work, but that were forged before with this work of the Rhône River, although his mental agitation was not yet reflected.

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 the loss of his ear. During this time Van Gogh’s mental stability was already very questionable and by his own decision, he left the site to enter the Saint-Rémy-de-Provence mental health center.

Precisely during his stay at the institute, the painter contradictorily found his purest essence as an artist. It was in this place where he completed 150 paintings, including his famous ‘Starry Night’, the peak of his consolidation.

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