October 07, 2021 5 min read

The most famous paintings by Vincent Van Gogh are some of the most recognizable artworks in the world. I'm sure that you've seen images of his masterpieces before.

Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter who produced over 800 works. He sold only one painting during his lifetime and was largely unrecognized for his work until after his death in 1890. After that, his paintings became some of the most widely recognized artworks of all time.

See 10 the most famous paintings ever By Vincent Van Gogh

1. Van Gogh's Self Portrait, 1889

Van Gogh's Self-Portrait 1889 is a drawing with oil on canvas done by Vincent van Gogh in Saint-Rémy, France. Van Gogh made the works on paper in December 1889 and January 1890 while staying at the asylum of Saint-Paul de Mausole, near Saint-Rémy in Provence. The drawing was executed shortly after Van Gogh had voluntarily entered the asylum on 8 May 1889, and while he was ill with pyelonephritis.

It is among the most personal of his works and reflects his state of mind in the time just before he entered the asylum. The self-portrait was not exhibited until after Van Gogh's death, and it came to be regarded as one of his most celebrated works; it helped him gain fame during his lifetime and complete recognition after his death. 

2. Bedroom in Arles 1888

In his last major series of paintings, from Arles in 1888, Van Gogh depicted the world around him with the use of vivid colors and bold brushstrokes. One of these paintings is Bedroom in Arles 1888. The room is depicted in a dark blue tone. In this painting, Van Gogh is said to have utilized a more traditional technique with a classical composition. He used a horizontal line at the bottom of the painting to help balance out the piece. In addition, he also uses a light purple background that helps set the mood for the room and create depth within this piece of artwork.

Van Gogh was inspired while sitting on his bed looking out of his window at what could be seen outside while sitting on his bed. This specific arrangement and composition of floral bouquet depicts happiness and comfort and not necessarily sadness and solitude as it had been portrayed in some earlier works such as The Sower (1888). 

3. The Starry Night 1889

The Starry Night 1889 Van Gogh is one of the most famous paintings in the world. The painting is an oil on canvas with an approximate size of 69 x 91 cm. This artwork was created by Vincent van Gogh in 1889. This painting depicts a view of the town of Saint-Rémy de Provence, at night, from his window at the asylum where he had stayed for some time.

This painting has become an icon of modern art and one of the most famous examples of impressionism. This painting was donated to The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) by Mrs Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1941. Today, it hangs on the wall between the 4th and 5th floors at MoMA in New York City.

4. Sunflowers 1888

The sunflower paintings that Vincent van Gogh created in Arles, France, between 1888 are among his most well-known works. Van Gogh was interested in creating still lifes for their simplicity. He used color to define forms, which led to the use of complementary colors for maximum impact. Van Gogh found sunflowers particularly suited as subjects for his work because of their vibrant coloring and their meaning in French culture (noted in the book The Letters of Vincent van Gogh ).

Van Gogh began painting sunflowers in July 1888 during a period when his work grew more somber and dark. He had been living in Paris with his brother Theo, who was an art dealer. One day while walking along a boulevard, he passed a flower shop with sunlight streaming through the window. Van Gogh moved inside to escape the glare and noticed a display of yellow flowers. He quickly chose a large bouquet of yellow blooms and had the bouquet delivered to his apartment. 

5. Café Terrace at Night 1888

Café Terrace at Night is an oil painting by Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh, painted in June, 1888. It is currently on display at the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands. Van Gogh painted Cafe Terrace on a public square called Place Lamartine in Arles, France, which is located near the city hall of Arles. The painting depicts outdoor tables set up on the terrace of a café and it depicts people walking past the café.

6. Almond Blossoms 1890

Van Gogh's painting of Almond Blossoms was completed in 1890. Vincent was a fan of Japanese art especially of the ukiyo-e genre and influence of ukiyo-e can be seen in this famous work which was held in high esteem by the artist. It is currently on display at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

 7. Wheat Field with Cypresses 1889

A Wheat field with Cypresses is one of three similar paintings Van Gogh. The above painting is the first of the three and was completed in July 1889. This painting is the one which is present at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

It was painted by Van Gogh and he had a fondness for cypresses and wheat fields, and regarded the painting as one of his best landscape paintings and hence went on to create two more similar works.

8. The Potato Eaters 1885

The Potato Eaters is an oil painting by Vincent van Gogh painted in April 1885, and now this paintings is show at Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. The Potato Eaters is still considered Van Gogh’s best work and he wrote to his sister, “What I think about my own work is that the painting of the peasants eating potatoes that I did in Nuenen is after all the best thing I did”. 

9. Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear 1889

Vincent Van Gogh painted Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear in 1889. The painting is now in the collection of the Courtauld Institute of Art and on display in the Gallery at Somerset House.

After an incident with another prominent painter of the time, Paul Gauguin, who cut off the ear of his neighbor’s wife, Van Gogh cut off part of his own left year with a razor. This is one of the two self-portraits he painted after the incident. It is to be noted that it was his left ear that was bandaged; it appears right as Van Gogh has used a mirror to paint the portrait.

 10. Irises 1889

Van Gogh’s painting Irises started to be painted within a week of him entering the asylum, in May 1889, from nature in the hospital garden. This series of paintings he made at the Saint Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890. Van Gogh called the period his most prolific and creative time.

Art as road to experience

You may not have heard of Vincent Van Gogh but you have probably already seen some of his most famous paintings done at a time when he was little known. 50 Years after his death, Van Gogh’s paintings are still considered the best in history.

Geoffrey CONCAS
Geoffrey CONCAS