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Vincent Willem van Gogh (Dutch pronunciation: ) (March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890 ) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist artist. His paintings and drawings include some of the world's best known, most popular and most expensive pieces.
Van Gogh spent his early life working for a firm of art dealers and after a brief spell as a teacher, became a missionary worker in a very poor mining region. He did not embark upon a career as an artist until 1880. Initially he only worked with somber colors, until an encounter in Paris with Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism, whose brighter colours and style of painting he developed into a uniquely recognizable style, which was fully developed during time spent at Arles.
He produced more than 2,000 works, including around 900 paintings and 1100 drawings and sketches, during the last ten years of his life. Most of his best-known works were produced in the final two years of his life, during which time he cut off part of his left ear following a breakdown in his friendship with Paul Gauguin. After this he suffered recurrent bouts of mental illness, and committed suicide.
The central figure in Vincent van Gogh's life was his brother Theo, who continually and selflessly provided financial support. Their lifelong friendship is documented in numerous letters they exchanged from August 1872 onwards.