Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853 – 1890) was a Dutch and post-Impressionist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. His output includes portraits, self portraits, landscapes and still life of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers. He drew as a child but did not paint until his late twenties; most of his best-known works were completed during the last two years of his life. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, including 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints.
Van Gogh was born to upper middle class parents. He spent his early adulthood working for a firm of art dealers, and traveled between The Hague, London and Paris, after which he taught in England at Isleworth and Ramsgate. He was deeply religious as a younger man and aspired to be a pastor. From 1879 he worked as a missionary in a mining region in Belgium where he sketched people from the local community, and in 1885 painted his first major work The Potato Eaters. In March 1886, he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists. Later, he moved to the south of France and was influenced by the region’s strong sunlight. His paintings grew brighter in color, and he developed the unique and highly recognizable style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles in 1888.