Jul 30, 2009

Vincent van Gogh

On July 29, 1890, Vincent van Gogh died at age 37 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was born in the Netherlands and had a happy childhood, but suffered serious mental problems during his adult life.

He committed himself to an artistic career at age 27, and all of his art was produced during the next decade. A quote of his, "As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed."

While van Gogh’s Christian affiliations resulted in his interest in the suffering of others, when he moved to Arles he ceased painting poor peasants, and instead subjected himself to suffering under the undue strain of painting. Having known early in his life about the suffering many peasants undergo, it is no surprise that when he learned of Buddhism, van Gogh would embrace its ideas of enlightenment through suffering, as he did to Christianity.

Van Gogh was born with a brain lesion that many doctors believe was aggravated by his prolonged use of absinthe, causing his epileptic condition. Dr. Gachet, another of Van Gogh's physicians, was thought to have treated his epilepsy with digitalis. This prescription drug can cause one to see in yellow or see yellow spots. This may have been one of the reasons why Van Gogh loved this color.