Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. His best-known works include portraits, self portraits, landscapes, still lifes, olive trees, cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers. In just over a decade, he produced over 2100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings. Critics largely ignored him until his suicide in 1890, at 37, following years of anxiety, poverty and mental illness.
Born to upper middle class parents, Van Gogh was thoughtful and intellectual as a child, and as a young adult deeply religious and keenly aware of modernist trends in art, music and literature. He drew as a child, but spent years drifting in ill health and solitude, not painting until his late twenties. He spent several years in The Hague, London and Paris. His first major work was 1885's The Potato Eaters, which contains few signs of the vivid colourisation that distinguished his later work. In 1886 he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists. His paintings grew brighter in colour as he developed a style that became fully realised during his stay in Arles in 1888.
Today, Van Gogh's vivid colours, emotive subject matter, and the romanticism of his short life have led to his position in the public imagination as the quintessential misunderstood genius. His widespread critical, commercial and popular success began after his adoption by the early 20th-century German Expressionists and Fauves. Despite a popular tendency to romanticise his ill health, art historians see an artist deeply frustrated by the inactivity and incoherence caused by frequent mental sickness. His posthumous reputation grew steadily during the 20th century; today he is remembered and revered as an important but tragic painter.