painting of vincent van gogh in a dark room

History of Starry Night: Van Gogh's Calm Amidst the Storm

vincent van gogh starry night painting

How does this painting make you feel?

Sadness? Hope? Longing? If you’re the type of person to emotionally connect with a painting, then you’re as close to feeling how the original artist felt when he created this masterpiece. In this article, we’ll talk about the history of Starry Night, and how it became Van Gogh’s light at the end of the tunnel during the most turbulent time of his life. 

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Who is Van Gogh?

Vincent Willem van Gogh was a Dutch painter born in the 1800s and the eldest of six children to a Protestant pastor. He was raised in a small village located in Brabant, a region in Southern Netherlands. This small community influenced the way he was brought up since he preferred to wander the countryside and spend most of his free time quietly observing nature. 

painting of vincent van gogh in a dark room

He mostly kept to himself. And his behavior especially got worse when a woman he was courting rejected him, making him even more reclusive as time went on. As someone who believes in engaging in charitable works and giving back to the community, he took up a variety of philanthropic jobs. He failed simultaneously at them, thus causing a mid-life crisis and making him sink into depression even more. 

photo of brushes and paints in a pallet

After his last missionary work attempt ended badly, he took up painting as a hobby, until he decided to practice it seriously. This led to the discovery of his true talent and passion for the arts. From then on, he realized that sharing this gift to the world was his real mission all along.   

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Philanthropy to Artistry

Before we dive into the history of Starry Night, let’s talk a short summary about Van Gogh’s journey. Painting as a hobby, to a serious profession. Van Gogh intensely learned the ways of the old masters, for 10 short years, until he was confident enough to create his own styles. He painted trees in blossom, the town view, and its surroundings, portraits of his friends, houses, flowers, landscapes, plus many other subjects. During this period he stuck to the techniques he learned throughout his training but found it constricting to the point that he felt no artistic freedom. After he broke free from the old techniques he tried hard to master, he then started developing his own by squeezing oil paint tubes directly onto the canvas, therefore giving his work a bit more individuality and uniqueness.

vincent van gogh mountain houses painting

He was well aware that his painting style was of his own, but he also knew that he couldn’t accomplish some art techniques by himself. This then urged him to form an Impressionist group with many other painters who he believed had similar painting aspirations. After finding a few like-minded people, he rented a house located in Arles with the intention of forming a working community called, “The Studio of the South”. And on October 1888, one of his Impressionist confidants by the name of Gauguin worked with him for two months but proved extremely difficult. Although they both influenced each other to an extent, they decided to part ways because of creative differences and petty arguments. 

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How Starry Night Became a Masterpiece

As you might know by now, the History of Starry Night is not all rainbows and butterflies. In 1888, during Christmas Eve, Van Gogh finally snapped due to physical and emotional strain. After another argument with Gauguin, it was speculated that Van Gogh reportedly cut off his own left ear. 

He decided that enough is enough and returned home, therefore ending “The Studio of the South”. Once he started painting alone again he manifested signs of mental disturbance in his isolation. And because he feared being unable to work,  he asked to be temporarily admitted to the asylum of Saint Rémy-de-Provence to keep his sanity in check.

photo time lapse of stars above trees at night

Van Gogh was confined at the asylum for 12 months, because of his moods fluctuating between sadness and happiness. He also experienced anxiety attacks as he intermittently worked on The Starry Night. This phase notes his creation of Starry Night as the last resort. He feared losing touch with reality partnered with sadness thanks to lack of inspiration. As a result of his confinement, he had no choice but to depend on his memory. 

The End of an Era

Van Gogh, homesick and alone, decided to end his own life in despair after he visited his brother Theo. Though extremely poor during his lifetime, he held on for long because of his faith, and the hope his brother Theo had for him. Despite the fact that the history of Starry Night ended on a sad note, its creator is still considered one of the greatest Dutch painters of all time because of the influence he has on the development of modern painting.

And because of the large influence Starry Night has to people's hearts. Many have dreamed of replicating it through Paint by Numbers. It's one of the most popular Paint by Number kits in the world. Now anyone can try to be a great painter like Vincent and have their own painting of Starry Night.

bust sculpture of vincent van gogh

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