By Vincent van Gogh
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Van Gogh painted "A pair of shoes" (oil on canvas; dimensions 37,5 x 45,5 centimeters) in 1886.
Van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 in Groot Zundert, in the district of North Brabant (Netherlands). His father Theodorus van Gogh, a Protestant minister, wanted him to be a clergyman but he did not follow his father's footsteps. Instead, in 1869 he started working in a company of art dealers, first in The Hague and then in London and Paris. After leaving that job, teaching at schools in Rasmgate and Isleworth (England), working in a bookshop in Dordrecht (Netherlands) and becoming a missionary in Wasmes (Belgium), he ended up living in the small village of Cuesmes where one day, compelled to go and visit the French painter Jules Breton whom he greatly admired, he walked seventy kilometers to the French city of Courrières. Vincent ended up returning home with out meeting the artist. In 1880 he finally decided to dedicate his life to art and went to Brussels to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Art. In 1886 he moved back to Paris, incorporating in his own unique style with some of the techniques of the Impressionists. On February 20, 1888 he moved south to Arles, in Provence and later on he invited artist Paul Gauguin to join him. Gauguin arrived in Arles in October but by December the relationship between the two artists had already deteriorated, as did Vincent's mental health (on December 23 van Gogh mutilated his left ear). Later on Vincent van Gogh voluntarily choose to be confined in the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where he realized his best-known work "Starry Night". On May 16, 1890 his brother Theo transferred him to Paris and then to the more-quiet destination of Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent van Gogh, in an attack of depression, killed himself on July 27, 1890.