Vincent Van Gogh was born in Holland in 1853. His childhood was happy but he was a solitary and moody boy.
• Moody = lunatico
In 1869, at the age of 16, he started working as a clerk for an art-dealer company. Through his job he came into contact with the world of art.
• Clerk = impiegato
• art-dealer company = ditta di commercianti d’arte
Four years later, in 1873, he moved to London, where he worked for the same company until 1875, when he moved to Paris branch of the firm.
• branch of the firm = filiale della ditta
Unfortunately, in 1876, he started suffering from depression and he was dismissed. After that, he became a missionary among poor coal miners in Belgium and started making drawings of peasant life until he finally decided to devote himself to painting.
• Among = tra
• He was dismissed = fu licenziato
• coal miners = minatori di carbone
In 1880 he went to Brussels to study, supported by his brother, Theo.
Theo also helped Vincent when he arrived in Paris in 1886. Here Van Gogh was influenced by the Impressionists and the design of Japanese prints.
Later on, he developed his own post-Impressionist style and started to use brighter colours to express his feelings. In 1888 he moved to Arles, in the south of France.
Gauguin joined him in Arles, but they got on badly. When Gauguin left, Van Gogh cut his ear.
After that, his mental health got worse and worse and he killed himself in 1890.
• Later on = più tardi
• they got on badly = non andarono d’accordo (to get on = andare d’accordo con qualcuno; badly = male, malamente)
• worse and worse = sempre peggio
|The starry night, 1889|
This painting is one of Van Gogh’s last works, painted about a year before his suicide. Van Gogh used two “tools” to depict his personal vision of reality: the colours, which are not the real colours of the scene, and heavy strokes of a brush loaded with paint.
In the left foreground, Van Gogh depicts a group of cypress trees shaped like tongues of flame: they seem to waver as though they were moved by an inner force.
On the right, he paints the houses of a village and a church with a tall triangular steeple, a common style in Van Gogh’s native country, Holland.
The trees and hills in the background are dark because they are far away.
The sky is what captures our attention. The stars and the moon are the most important elements in this painting: they are so different in colours from the background as to seem to light up the night. The brushstrokes make the painting very dynamic: we seem to feel wind that cartwheels across the sky and moves the trees.
Tools = strumenti
To depict = rappresentare
Foreground = primo piano
to waver = vacillare, ondeggiare
as though = come se
steeple = campanile
to cartwheel = fare la ruota, ruotare
1. Where was Van Gogh born?
2. What was his first job?
3. Who helped him when he was in Paris?
4. Where did he move in 1888?
5. What happened when Gaugin left him?
6. How did he die?
7. How old was he when he died?
8. When did Van Gogh paint 'the starry night'?
9. What tools did he use to depict his vision of reality?
10. Which are the most important elements of the painting?