The unfortunate lives of world’s most famous artists: Van Gogh and Monet

Starry Night Van Gogh (CC) / Oil on canvas / Museum of Modern Art / 1889 

Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet were two of the most prominent figures in the art world, known for their exceptional arts. However, their personal lives were fraught with tragedy and misfortune.

Van Gogh's illness and pain

Van Gogh, who suffered from mental illness, endured a life full of poverty and rejection. Despite his talent, he lived most of his adult life in poverty, barely affording his own art supplies. And despite creating more than 2,100 artworks, he only sold one painting during his lifetime. His mental health deteriorated over time, leading him to cut off his own ear and eventually taking his own life at the age of 37. Despite deteriorating mental health, disapproval from society, and financial instability, Van Gogh continued to create at the asylum, averaging one painting per day. On June 18, 1889, Van Gogh completed Starry Night, one of the most famous and recognizable art piece in art history.

Hardships of Claude Monet

Monet’s life was also full of hardships. He suffered the loss of his first wife to tuberculosis and later lost his second wife to cancer. Despite being a talented artist, he struggled financially and emotionally for much of his career and even suffered from depression. At the age of 28, Monet even attempted suicide by trying to drown himself in the Seine River. It was only later in life that his work gained recognition, and he became a wealthy and celebrated artist. At the age of 68, Monet had cataracte in both eyes and later his eyesight deteriorated to the point he was almost blind. Gradually, reds and yellows invaded his paintings and blues disappeared. After his friend Georges Clemenceau encouraged him to undergo surgery, Monet could see again with his right operated eye. However, his color palette this time turned everything blue. Despite his blurred vision which greatly affected him, Monet continued to paint until few months before he died.

Healing power of art

Van Gogh used art as a way to cope with his mental illness. He believed that creating art helped him to understand and express his emotions and experiences. During his stays in psychiatric hospitals, Van Gogh continued to paint and draw, using his art as a form of therapy. He once wrote, “I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.” Van Gogh’s art continues to inspire others and serves as an example of the healing power of art.

Passion and sacrifice

The tragic lives of Van Gogh and Monet highlight the harsh realities of being an artist. Despite their immense talent, they struggled to make a living and faced numerous personal challenges. Nevertheless, their art continues to inspire and captivate audiences around the world.

The stories of Van Gogh and Monet are not unique in the world of art. Many talented artists experience similar difficulties in making a living, receiving recognition, and navigating personal and emotional challenges. Despite these obstacles, artists continue to create because art is a powerful force that connects individuals and communities worldwide. The legacy of artists like Van Gogh and Monet reminds us of the importance of preserving and supporting the arts, so that future generations can also be inspired and captivated.



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