The fame of the post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh goes behind the streets of Montmartre and the walls of the Musée d’Orsay.

His most famous piece « The Starry Night » is recognized all around the world, as the work of a true genius. But what about the man behind the art?

Here are 5 interesting facts about this unusual character.

1. Vincent Van Gogh suffered from mental illness

Genius does not come without its hardships: Van Gogh suffered all his life from temporal lobe epilepsy, hysteria crises, and hallucinations.

More than one hundred and fifty psychiatrists have tried to diagnose the cause of Vincent Van Gogh’s illnesses and the diagnoses range from schizophrenia, porphyria, syphilis, bipolar disorder, and epilepsy.

2. Van Gogh chopped a piece of his own ear

Vincent Van Gogh was indeed an eccentric character. He was close friends with Paul Gauguin, another famous artist.

During an epileptic seizure, Van Gogh attempted to attack his friend Paul Gauguin with an open razor. This ultimately resulted in the Vincent cutting off a piece of his own ear – not the whole ear.

3. Vincent Van Gogh lived in poverty

Vincent was a self-taught artist with little training and only became famous after his death.

When he first began painting, he used peasants as models and later would paint flowers, landscapes and himself, mostly because he was too poor to pay the models.

Red vineyards Vincent Van Gogh

During his entire life, Van Gogh only sold one painting: The Red Vineyard, while he created a total of 2000 pieces of art, including 900 paintings and 1100 sketches or drawings.

Now, any of his paintings are sold for millions: the Portrait of Doctor Gachet, for example, has been sold for $146 million.

4. “The sadness will last forever” were his last words

In 1890, Vincent van Gogh ended his battle with sanity and shot himself in a wheat field in Auvers, France, when he was only 37 years old.

However, he did not die until two days later. His brother Theo reported the fact that his last words were « La tristesse durera toujours » which means « The sadness will last forever », a sentence that reflects the deeply tortured mind of the artist.

5. Vincent Van Gogh painted Montmartre

In the summer of 1886, Van Gogh arrived in Paris and settled with his dear brother Theo near the district of Montmartre.

He was to stay there for two years, during which he had the opportunity to be influenced by other Impressionists such as Camille Pissarro and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Montmartre Vincent Van Gogh

The quarter of Montmartre has been beautifully depicted by Van Gogh with Boulevard the Clichy or Le Moulin de la Galette for example.

Author Bio: Clémence grew up in the south of Paris. She studies politics and history at Sciences Po, in Saint-Germain. From long visits at the Louvre to carefree afternoons on the banks, she has childhood memories in every corner of Paris. Theater, cinema, photography, macarons, cheese, wine, exhibits, museums, parties… Paris is everything to her!


*This article was originally published at By Clémence.