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Vincent van Gogh (March 30, 1853 - July 29, 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on twentieth-century art. Though van Gogh began to draw as a child, he did not begin to paint until his late twenties, completing many of his best-known works (including The Starry Night) during the last two years of his life. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints. His oeuvre comprises portraits, self-portraits, landscapes, and still lives. In 1886, van Gogh moved to Paris and underwent a significant transformation when confronted with the works of Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists. Famously, van Gogh lived out the remainder of his life in the south of France, where he eventually succumbed to mental illness and committed suicide. His paintings of his final years are perhaps his most seminal and renown, and their influence on modern art cannot be overstated.
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Blossoming Almond Tree, one of Vincent van Gogh’s most well-known paintings, is a perfect representation of how van Gogh consistently intertwined his personal life and his art historical influences in his work. The crown jewel of the Almond Blossoms series of 1888-1890, van Gogh painted the flowering, creeping branches with his newborn nephew in mind. When his brother Theo informed him that the young boy would be named for his uncle, van Gogh, touched by the gesture, devoted his energies to depicting the bright blossoms to symbolize new life and hope “to hang in their bedroom.” Endlessly interested in Japanese traditions of art, van Gogh reveals the influence of ukiyo-e woodblock printing in Blossoming Almond Tree. In fact, the van Gogh brothers themselves held a personal collection of upwards of 400 prints in this style, several of which were directly copied by the artist as studies. Currently hanging in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in his home country of the Netherlands, Blossoming Almond Tree is at once joyful and peaceful, demonstrating not only van Gogh’s technical mastery, but also his ability to infuse his paintings with feeling and emotion.