Vincent van Gogh’s Educational Background and Training – Nomadic Life of Dutch Painter

Let's explore where did Vincent van Gogh complete his academic and non-academic training!

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Vincent van Gogh was born in Zundert, a village in Brabant, in the south of the Netherlands. He was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who is now one of the most influential painters in western art. Vincent produced about 2100 artworks over a decade most from the last two years of his life. Many people know about his famous artworks such as The Starry Nights, Sunflowers, and Cafe Terrace at Night, but his training and educations deem mysterious to most people.
View of Paris(1886) – Vincent van Gogh

Vincent's early-schooling was in the Netherlands. In January 1861,  He attended a village school in Groot-Zundert, in North Brabant for about 10 months. He was brought home and tutored by his governess, Anna Birni who came from an artistic background.

Vincent was transferred to a boarding school called Jan Pravily's school in Zevenbergen where he felt abandoned in October 1864. He later attended new and prestigious King Willem II Secondary School (now known as Willem II College) as a first form student in Tilburg at the age of 13. The lesson consisted of Dutch, French, German, English, history, geography, geometry, geometrical drawing, freehand drawing, botany, zoology, penmanship and gymnastics. He did well in the exam especially for the languages, however, he left the school prematurely and returned to his parent's house in Zundert on 30 March 1868 for unknown reasons. Vincent was the most famous student at King Willem II Secondary School between 15 September 1966 and 19 March 1868.


Vincent's class at King William II (1866-67)

Vincent spent his early adulthood trying different jobs from art dealer to the schoolmaster and lay preacher travelling between the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium and France. He had worked as a trainee art clerk at international art dealer Goupil & Cie in when he was 16 years old. He had also enrolled in a trial preacher traineeship at the Flemish School in Sint-Katelijneplein, Belgium.
Vincent van Gogh at the age of 19Vincent van Gogh at the age of 19
Vincent did not find his life direction until his late twenties due to advice from his brother, Theo who was an art dealer. He came to Brussels, Belgium to study with the prominent Dutch artist Willem Roelofs in October 1880. He also signed up for a drawing course at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles after being recommended by Willem Roelofs and the art dealer, Tobias Schmidt. Vincent was initially not interested in the lesson, but the education in Brussels was free and studying at the art academy would gain him access to a warm, well-lit studio in winter. He studied anatomy, the standard rules of modelling and perspective at the academy but left not long after losing a competition on 5 December 1880.

Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles where vincent van gogh attendedAcadémie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles exists until today
Vincent moved around several times in the Netherlands. He took painting and drawing lessons from his cousin-in-law, Anton Mauve for 3 weeks. Anton Mauve was a master colourist and a Dutch realistic painter. Vincent learnt the basics of oil painting and watercolours as well as set up a studio by the help of Mauve.
Anton Mauve, teacher of vincent van gogh.Anton Mauve
Despite his rejection of academic education, he took the higher-level admission exams at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium in 1885, and in January 1886, matriculated in painting and drawing. He left in March 1886 to study at Fernand Cormon's studio in Paris, France.
Head of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette (1886) –Vincent van Gogh, 

In addition to his formal training, Vincent van Gogh had interacted with, exchanged ideas and techniques with and learnt from many prominent or lesser-known artists in his time. His art styles were greatly influenced by the artists and paintings he had met and seen.

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Elouise Chan

Hello, I am a Genetics student at the University of Leeds. I would like to explore different fields of industries. I am currently enrolled in a SEO internship on Xpert.

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