Van Gogh Museum: Amsterdam

I first heard of Van Gogh when I started my banking career with the Dutch bank ABN AMRO over a decade ago. Van Gogh Preferred Banking was a select range of services offered by the bank to rich and privilidged. It took me a few attempts to get the pronunciation right to ensure that I do not make a fool of myself in front of my Dutch counterparts. Some fellow bankers raved of Van Gogh’s work while others called him the ‘tortured painter’, without an ear. My naive mind assumed he was deaf. Little did I know that he had cut off his own ear on account of a psychotic episode! Or did his friend accidentally chop it off in a bout of fencing? I came to know of a lot more about this genius when I visited the Van Gogh Museum at Amsterdam. The museum had a collection of art that amazed me and made me appreciate paintings in a way that I had never known.

I AMsterdam....I love Amsterdam!

I AMsterdam….I love Amsterdam!

To those who are curious to know more about Van Gogh, read on for a few interesting facts….

  1. Vincent had a brother, also named Vincent, who was still born on the same date one year earlier. His grandfather’s name was also Vincent. While Vincent was born in the Netherlands, he spent a major part of his life in Belgium and France. If you are in any of these locations (especially in Auvers, France) and want to get a feel of what his life was, you can take a ‘Van Gogh Walking Tour’ with a local tour operator.
  2. As a child, Vincent wanted to be a pastor. Had he continued with his idea, the world would have never seen his artistic side, which would have been a colossal loss to the world of art!
  3. Vincent’s initial career days were spent as being an unsuccessful art dealer. He started painting when he was 27. It’s never to late to start, isn’t it?
  4. Vincent produced 2,000 artworks, consisting of around 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches. Almost all 900 paintings were made in the last ten years of his life.
    The Almond Blossom

    The Almond Blossom

    Vincent was able to sell only one painting in his lifetime, titled The Red Vineyard; all the others were sold after his death, thanks to the efforts made by his brother’s wife.

    The Red Vineyards (Courtesy: Www.VanGogh.net)

    The Red Vineyards (Courtesy: www.VanGogh.net)

  5. Vincent loved selfies…seriously! He made ~30 self portraits!

    Selfie time!

    Selfie time!

  6. Vincent was never married and possibly, had tough luck in love. He proposed to three women; none accepted the proposal.
  7. Vincent wrote over 800 letters in his lifetime. Most of them were written to his brother Theo, who was also his closest friend.
  8. Vincent suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy as well as other mental and physical conditions. He even spent time in a mental asylum in France and painted his most famous painting The Starry Night while he was there.

    The Starry Night (Courtesy: Www.VanGogh.net)

    The Starry Night (Courtesy: www.VanGogh.net)

  9. Vincent did chop off a part of his ear lobe… but just a part… not the entire ear lobe, as is believed by many. There are different version of how and when it happened… some say that he gave it to a prostitute… some say that it got chopped off in a fight with his friend Gauguin… while others say that he gave it to Gauguin.
  10. Vincent died when he was 37. Some say he committed suicide, while others say that he was shot by two teenage boys. He survived two days after being shot, but death won the battle.

Ankur and I spent over two hours at the Van Gogh museum. We saw his paintings, tried to understand his inspiration to paint and the subjects that he painted.

The Potato Eaters, one of Van Gogh's famous creations

The Potato Eaters, one of Van Gogh’s famous creations

We read letters that were exchanged between him and his brother Theo to get a sense of what went on in the heart and mind of an artist so great. Ankur and I aren’t art connoisseurs. Regardless, we appreciated the work of art that was displayed at the museum and would recommend that you do visit the museum if you are in Amsterdam.

Here are some tips if you do intend to visit the Van Gogh Museum…

  • The museum is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm, Fridays until 10 pm
  • Ticket to the museum costs EUR 17 per person. However, if you have the I Amsterdam City Card or the Museumkaart, entrance to the museum is free.
  • The line to buy a ticket is fairly long. We were here in February, which is off season and saw people waiting for over an hour to get their ticket. It would make a lot of sense to book your ticket online in order to speed the process. However, you need to choose a time when you buy the online ticket. There is a separate like for holders of the I Amsterdam City Card – the fastest way to get in!

    Best to have the I Amsterdam City Card!

    The line to buy tickets! Best to have the I Amsterdam City Card!

  • Multimedia guides can be rented by paying EUR 5 additionally.
  • There is a lovely little cafe inside the museum with some delightful cakes. There is also a well stocked souvenir shop which even has teddy bears made of prints of Van Gogh paintings!

Cheers to awakening the art connoisseur in you!

Photography is not allowed in the Van Gogh Museum, except at ‘selfie’ points. The pictures in this post (which do not bear our watermark have been taken from the Van Gogh Museum website and www.VanGogh.net)

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11 Responses

  1. This is a great collection of interesting facts about Van Gogh. The museum is fascinating; I have been there once and really liked it. Such a shame that he did not reap any of the rewards of his artistic efforts. Really enjoyed reading your post.

  2. I’ve heard the name Van Gogh is quite impossible to pronounce in the correct Dutch way. Good job Learning it 🙂

    After numerous visits to Amsterdam I have yet to visit the Van Gogh Museum. Maybe I have to visit NeXT time. Thanks for the tip about ordering the tickets online. That would save a lot of time it seems.

  3. I learned a lot about Van Gogh in middle school. We even had to paint a replica of one of his paintings. I chose his self portrait (which is still hanging on the wall in my grandma’s house). Lol. I’m going to Amsterdam in two months. Would love to check out the museum 🙂 I didn’t know they did Van Gogh walking tours in France. I live in France. Might have to check that out too 🙂

  4. I was never a art aficionado but recently, I always find myself in museums and looking at different paintings. I guess it comes with the age, I’m getting older. Lol. Van Gogh is one of my favorites, I love his Starry Night. I have to admit though that I know nothing much about him until now. Thanks to you. 🙂

  5. Lauren

    A great insight into the great man that is Van Gogh. I have been privileged to see his work in Australia and the paintwork is just amazing!

  6. Some gorgeous artwork and a great experience to visit the masterpieces in real life! Amsterdam is very high on my bucketlist! Would love to visit this museum and the Ann Frank Museum too!

  7. Van Gogh’s work is amazing. I’ve been to this museum too. I really loved it. they had to kick me out. I wanted to stay forever. it’s funny that you call Van Gogh’s ear cutting a psychotic episode. That’s so true but it’s usually described in a romantic way. He’s “eccentric” or “passionate” but yup it was psychotic for sure. Still, his art is the stuff of dreams.

  8. Van Gogh is such an interesting guy and how strange he had an older brother also named Vincent. He died so young and I think it’s so sad no one appreciates an artist until they’re gone. I’m glad he could sell at least one work during his lifetime. As for chopping off his ear… The world may never know what really happened.

  9. I had no idea that he had a brother also named Vincent! I also thought he cut off his whole ear – you’re certainly educating me on Van Gogh. The photography really adds to this post.

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