The brilliant color and exuberant vitality of Dutch Post-Impressionist master Vincent van Gogh's paintings stand in stark contrast to his tragic, turbulent life. In 1880, after a series of failed careers, Van Gogh decided to become an artist. Lacking the resources for formal training, he acquired the necessary skills by sketching from books and prints. The artist's earliest works were scenes of peasant life, inspired by Breton and Millet. In 1886, Van Gogh traveled to Paris where he encountered the works of the Impressionists and the fashionable Japanese prints that were immensely popular in Parisian avant-garde circle.
The artist's Paris experience marked a dramatic transformation in his style and the beginning of an extremely productive period. Canvases from this period reflect a radical shift from the somber – paletted realism of his early works to vibrant expressionism. Inspired by the beauty of the area's rural landscapes, Van Gogh moved to Arles in 1888. The move coincided with the onset of the artist's struggle with mental illness and, after one particularly severe episode, he committed himself to an asylum at Saint Remy. While hospitalized Van Gogh continued to paint and it was here that one of his most compelling works, "The Starry Night" was completed.
The artist produced over one thousand works during the ten short years he devoted to painting. He sold only one painting prior to his tragic death, the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.