Vincent Van Gogh (1853-90) is one of the most mythologised artists of the nineteenth century. Many explanations of his work focus on his mental instability.

The importance of this to his painting style is debatable, although Van Gogh did lead a somewhat tormented life. He was born in Groot-Zundert, in the Southern Netherlands, a predominantly Catholic area of the country, where his father was a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Vincent hoped to follow in his footsteps and work as a missionary but he failed his theological exams. He travelled between The Hague, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Antwerp and gradually developed as an artist.

His first exhibition took place in 1885 in The Hague, and in 1886 he moved to Paris to continue painting and live with his brother Theo, who was a constant correspondent and supporter of Vincent.

From Paris, Van Gogh moved to Arles, in southern France, with the intention of setting up an artists’ community and capturing the bright colours of the south.