Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was born in Zundert in the south of the Netherlands. After deciding to become an artist in 1880, he spent the first five years of his career in Holland painting landscapes and peasants in dark colours. In 1886 he moved to Paris to live with his art-dealer brother Theo, who introduced him to Impressionist and Pointillist painting. His palette brightened dramatically and he experimented with modern styles.

In 1888 Van Gogh move d to Arles in the south of France, where he worked in isolation. Van Gogh suffered his first mental breakdown in December 1888; he committed himself to the asylum in St Rémy, where he stayed for a year, continuing to paint and draw profusely. His paintings started to win acclaim, but Van Gogh was deeply frustrated by the recurrent bouts of his mental illness. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on 29 July 1890, in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.

Van Gogh’s career as an artist lasted for a mere ten years, but he left a large and varied oeuvre: almost 900 paintings, 1,100 drawings and more than 800 letters. No other artist captures the imagination as he does. His work continues to fascinate and move people throughout the world and his letters are considered world literature.