1853 Born, 30 March, in Zundert (The Netherlands), to Reverend Theodorus van Gogh and Anna Cornelia Carbentus.
1857 Brother, Theo, with whom Vincent had extensive written correspondence during his life, is born.
1869 Leaves school to begin apprenticeship at the art dealership Goupil & Co. (The Hague).
1873 Sent to the London office of Goupil & Co. Begins collecting illustrations from The Graphic and Illustrated London News by artists such as Frank Holl, Hubert von Herkomer, and Luke Fildes.
1875 Transferred to the Goupil & Co. office in Paris.
1876 Fired from his position at Goupil & Co. Returns to live in England, where he finds work teaching in Ramsgate and Isleworth.
1877 Returns to the Netherlands. Briefly works in a bookshop in Dordrecht before moving to Amsterdam to begin studies to become a minister.
1878 Moves to the Borinage district (Belgium), where he works as a lay preacher.
1879 Dismissed from his post in Borinage.
1880 At the suggestion of his brother Theo, he decides to devote himself to art. Toward the end of the year he moves to Brussels to attend the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, where he studies life-drawing, anatomy, and physiognomy. Theo, who had begun working for Goupil’s, begins to support him financially.
1881 Moves to his parents’ home in the village of Etten (The Netherlands) in the spring. Continues his studies as an artist by collecting prints and reproductions, which he subsequently drew from.
In the winter, following contentious arguments with his father, he moves to The Hague, at that time the nucleus of Dutch painting. This also marks the end of his religious fervor.
1882 Receives some instruction and assistance from his cousin-in-law, the Dutch realist painter Anton Mauve (1838-88). The relationship soon sours, however, likely due in part to van Gogh beginning to live with Clasina Maria “Sien” Hoornik, an abandoned mother from the lower classes who worked as an occasional prostitute. Sien and her children serve as the artists’ models during this period.
1883 Leaves Sien and moves to Hoogeveen in the northern Netherlands. His decision to leave The Hague was, in part, due to his continued desire to be a painter of peasants and the countryside. In December he returns to live with his parents, by then living in Nuenen. During this period he produced some of his first paintings that were intended as finished pieces in their own right, rather than sketches or studies.
1885 Paints The Potato Eaters (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum), a work that embodies his years of drawing and studying peasants. In November of this year the artist moved to Antwerp, in order to have access to museums and an academy where he could study and draw from plaster casts and live models.
1886 Moves to Paris in February. He shares an apartment with his brother Theo, who was then attempting to sell paintings by Impressionist artists such as Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Camille Pissarro (1830-1903). Van Gogh meets these artists through his brother. Around this time he also begins collecting and studying Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, which had a notable influence on his own work.
In Paris, van Gogh begins working in the studio of Fernand Cormon (1845-1924), where he encounters artists such as Émile Bernard (1868-1941) and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901).
1887 Meets and befriends the painter Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). Late in the year, van Gogh arranges an exhibition of works in a restaurant (Grand-Bouillon Restaurant du Chalet) in Paris’s Montmartre district. The artists exhibited include himself, Bernard, Louis Anquetin (1861-1932), and possibly Toulouse-Lautrec.
1888 Moves to Arles, in southern France. In this area and the surrounding environs he continues painting and drawing, often returning to motifs of peasant life that he had worked on when living in the Netherlands.
In October, Gauguin comes to live and work with van Gogh in the Yellow House. The arrangement is short-lived, however, as Gauguin leaves Arles following an argument around Christmas. Van Gogh cuts off his own ear and spends time in the hospital, experiencing his first major episodes of mental illness.
1889 Due to serious and continuing problems with his mental health, commits himself to the Saint-Paul Asylum in Saint-Rémy. During periods when he is well enough to do so he continues painting and drawing.
1890 Leaves the Saint-Rémy clinic to live in Auvers-sur-Oise. On July 27, he apparently shoots himself in the chest. In the early morning hours of July 29, he dies. According to his brother Theo, who was present at the death, van Gogh’s last words were “The sadness will last forever.”
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