Journey through Europe with Vincent van Gogh

By Google Arts & Culture

Self-portrait with grey felt hat (September 1887 - October 1887) by Vincent van GoghVan Gogh Museum

Vincent van Gogh was born to a well-to-do family in the Netherlands in 1853. In his lifelong search for employment and fame he travelled across Europe, from Ramsgate in England, to Arles in the South of France.

Taking Stock

At the age of 20, Vincent moved to England to work at the London branch of the international art dealers Goupil & Cie. This is his first known address, in the London suburb of Stockwell.

William Stokes' School, Ramsgate

In 1875, after being sacked by Goupil, Vincent returned briefly to his parents' house. However, he quickly found work as an assistant teacher at William Stokes' boarding school in Ramsgate, on the southern English coast - marked here with a blue plaque.

Royal Road, Ramsgate

Vincent hadn't yet decided to become an artist, but on the 31 May 1876, he sent his brother Theo a quick sketch of this road.

The Marcasse Coal Mine, The Borinage

By 1878, Vincent had moved between several towns, struggling to find work. He was now living in the mining village of Wasmes, Belgium, working as a preacher. In April 1879, wanting to learn about the miners' lives, he visited the Marcasse coal mine, seen here.

Road in Etten Road in Etten (1881) by Vincent van GoghThe Metropolitan Museum of Art


By 1881, Vincent was once again unemployed, but he had decided to become an artist. He moved back into his parents' house in Etten, The Netherlands, and started teaching himself the principles of drawing, taking the local landscape and peasants as his subjects.

The Parsonage, Nuenen

Vincent's parents moved to the parsonage at Nuenen in 1882. In December 1883, Vincent followed them, staying there until November 1885.

The Vicarage at Nuenen (September 1885 - October 1885) by Vincent van GoghVan Gogh Museum

The Vicarage at Nuenen, 1885

Vincent was developing his artistic practice, and painted this picture of his parents' house in 1885.

The potato eaters (April 1885 - May 1885) by Vincent van GoghVan Gogh Museum

The Potato Eaters, 1885

He continued to make paintings of the local peasants, and in 1885 completed his first major work, The Potato Eaters. The style of this domestic scene is far from the post-Impressionist landscapes he would later become famous for.

Theo van Gogh's Apartment, Paris

In 1886, Vincent moved into his brother Theo's Parisian apartment on the third floor of this Montmarte building. Theo was a successful art dealer, and supported Vincent financially and professionally.

Montmartre: behind the Moulin de la Galette (July 1887 - 1887) by Vincent van GoghVan Gogh Museum

Montmarte: Behind the Moulin de la Galette, 1887

At the time, the area of Montmarte was filled with many small allotments and working windmills, such as the Moulin de la Galette. This mill served fresh bread as well as wine, and was a popular hangout for artists.

Moulin de la Galette, Paris

Today, though Montmarte is now well within the centre of Paris, the mill still serves as a bar, with an authentic 19th-century windmill on the roof.

The yellow house (`The street') (September 1888 - 1888) by Vincent van GoghVan Gogh Museum

The Yellow House, Arles, 1888

In 1888, Vincent moved to the sunny southern French town of Arles, hoping to start a collective artist colony. He rented a room in the Yellow House, pictured here, and invited friends and colleagues, including Paul Gaugin, to join him.

The Bedroom (October 1888) by Vincent van GoghVan Gogh Museum

The Bedroom, 1888

In this painting, Vincent emphasises the simplicity and casual arrangement of his bedroom in the Yellow House. A vision that fits with his appreciation of Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetics.


Vincent's plans for the Yellow House came to ruin, few artists joined him, and he argued with Gauguin. It was here that he infamously sliced off his earlobe. The Yellow House was damaged during the Second World War, and demolished shortly after. But many other buildings remain.


In 1889, Vincent faced another bout of illness, and checked into the hospital of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in the southern French town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Landscape at Saint-Rémy (Enclosed Field with Peasant) (1889) by Vincent van GoghIndianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Landscape at Saint-Rémy, 1889

Vincent painted prolifically while in hospital. This scene depicts the view from his window in vibrant colour and fevered, waving brushstrokes characteristic of his later work.


In 1890, Vincent travelled to Auvers-sur-Oise to meet with Dr Paul Gachet, a specialist in mental conditions and an art collector. Vincent rented a room in the village and continued his work.

The Church in Auvers-sur-Oise, View from the Chevet (1890) by Vincent van GoghMusée d’Orsay, Paris

The Church in Auvers-sur-Oise, 1890

This was painted shortly after Vincent's arrival. He wrote in a letter to his sister, "I have a larger picture of the village church — an effect in which the building appears to be violet-hued against a sky of simple deep blue colour, pure cobalt".

27 July 1890, while painting in the fields of Auvers-sur-Oise, Vincent shot himself in the chest. He died two days later with his brother by his side. His funeral the next day was attended by many friends. Today, he lies in the graveyard of Auvers-sur-Oise.

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