Most people are at least vaguely aware of Vincent van Gogh as the wacky painter guy who cut off his own ear.
What they might not know is the full extent of the agony that was his waking life. So, let’s fix that! I now present to you six ways Vincent van Gogh’s life totally sucked that I’m glad I can’t relate to.
He died when he was 37.
And guess how old I am? I’m thirty freaking seven. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not be dead so young. I’d especially rather not be dead from suicide, though I have to admit the thought does cross my mind occasionally.
Do you even know how van Gogh killed himself? He shot himself in the stomach. In the stomach!
Then he died from the infected wound two days later.
Not only is that not an ideal way to die, it sounds absolutely miserable, making it a great way to sum up Vincent van Gogh’s life.
He died before his paintings went viral.
These days teen girls on Instagram have infinitely more fame than Mr. van Gogh ever had in his entire life, and most of them have done nothing! I, for one, am glad he didn’t live to see this day. Mostly because he’d be 166.
Vincent did all of his painting in the last ten years of his life and most of his famous work in the last two years of his life. He was busy failing at everything else he tried before that.
In fact, the only painting we’re positive he sold, The Red Vineyards near Arles, was sold a mere seven months before his death at an exhibition in Brussels. A fellow painter, who was his friend, bought it for 400 francs. It was clearly purchased out of pity!
After van Gogh’s death, his brother Theo, who was his biggest fan, took possession of most of van Gogh’s paintings. Then he up and died six months later. Thanks bro.
The only reason van Gogh has any fame at all is due in large part to the work of Theo’s wife, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger.
His mental illness far exceeded my own.
Look, I’ve had major depressive disorder and anxiety my whole life, and I’ve learned to not exacerbate it needlessly. Plus, I have way more options for treatment these days than van Gogh did in his time.
But our boy Vincent? He just drank himself stupid and signed up at his local asylum.
His most famous work was actually painted in that damn asylum. Remember The Starry Night? It’s meant to describe “the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence,” with some creative liberties taken like adding a freaking town that didn’t exist. Also, van Gogh hated Starry Night and said it meant nothing to him.
There’s actually a theory out there that says van Gogh didn’t even shoot himself. Supposedly somebody else did and he just decided he’d been done a favor and it was his time to go. “Hey there death. It’s me, ya boy!”
The man suffered unknowable mental anguish to the point that his last words were reportedly “la tristesse durera toujours,” which translates to “the sadness will last forever.”
Count me out of that.
Syphilis. He had syphilis.
Everyone had syphilis. It was incurable at the time.
Now I don’t want to point fingers at his live-in prostitute girlfriend, but she’s definitely on the short list of suspects.
Syphilis is actually how van Gogh’s brother Theo died. He had late stage syphilis and developed general paralysis of the insane. Pretty gnarly way to go out if you ask me.
Either way, even if it is curable now, I don’t really want syphilis.
I like both of my ears.
Sure, you’ve probably heard about Vincent van Gogh losing an ear. How it represents the convergence of creativity and madness and all that.
Cool story, but I’d rather keep mine intact.
Some say van Gogh cut off his ear by himself. Others say fellow artist, and suspected lover, Paul Gauguin chopped that bad boy off with a saber. Cool, right?
As for van Gogh? We’re not sure if he even remembers what happened that night, but according to his letters to his brother Theo he’s definitely scared of what havoc Gauguin might wreak with “more serious weapons.”
He was poor and relied on his brothers generosity.
Van Gogh’s brother Theo was his life boat. I’m not sure if my brother can even float.
Without Theo’s unending financial support, Vincent wouldn’t have been able to be a painter. He once remarked about the difficulty he faced even with Theo’s support in a letter to Theo:
I am privileged above many others, but I cannot do everything which I might have the courage and energy to undertake. The expenses are so extensive, beginning with a model and food and housing, and ending with the different colours and brushes.
What a pain in the booty it must have been to paint literally anything in the 1800's. We’re spoiled by today's standards, and that’s the way I like it.