Vincent van Gogh:
Vincent van Gogh is considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt, although he remained poor and virtually unknown throughout his life.
Vincent van Gogh was born Vincent Willem van Gogh on March 30, 1853, in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands, the son of Theodorus van Gogh and Anna Cornelia Carbentus. Vincent's father was an austere country preacher. His mother was a moody artist, the living prediction of his future temperament.
Van Gogh was born exactly one year after his parents' first son, also named Vincent, was stillborn. At a young age—his name and birthdate already etched on his dead brother's headstone—van Gogh was melancholy. 
Vincent went to school and learned several languages. When his father's lack of income necessitated his return, Vincent was sent to work in his uncle's art gallery at Den Hague. He soon grew tired of this and began to study theology.
Vincent did not think that Latin was a language for preaching to the poor. During this period, he worked as a missionary in a coal mining community living with hard working poor common people, speaking a language they understood. He grew less and less interested in theology and more and more interested in people. This is where his artist career was inspired.
In 1880, at 27 years old, Van Gogh entered the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Belgium. He had little success at first. He lived in Amsterdam during this time reportedly falling in love and having no success with that either. And then he painted The Potato Eaters.
Van Gogh’s Potato Eaters, his first major work, was painted in 1885. He had watched hard working farm families go about their daily routine and wanted to illustrate their connection to the earth. 
He was now fully devoting himself to painting: living frugally, studying color theory, and admiring the works of his contemporaries. His paintings just didn't sell. His brother Theo, an art dealer and the recipient of many letters from Vincent, commented that there should be more color in his work. Van Gogh was painting peasants and rural landscapes using dark earth tones. Around this same time, Impressionism, with its bright vivid colors, was becoming popular. Vincent's brother encouraged him to paint what was popular.
Vincent moved to Paris. He was surrounded by works of impressionistic artists such as Gauguin, Bernard, and Toulouse-Lautrec. He was using more color, applying the paint with thick, bold brushstrokes. He arranged a show which received positive reviews but still no one would buy his work.
Vincent began to decline mentally and physically
A local newspaper report dated 30 December 1888 recording Vincent's self-mutilation:
"Last Sunday night at half past eleven a painter named Vincent Vangogh, appeared at the maison de tolérance No 1, asked for a girl called Rachel, and handed her ... his ear with these words: 'Keep this object like a treasure.' Then he disappeared. The police, informed of these events, which could only be the work of an unfortunate madman, looked the next morning for this individual, whom they found in bed with scarcely a sign of life.The poor man was taken to hospital without delay."
It is reported that a falling out with his friend Gauguin precipitated this event. The hospital diagnosis was "generalized delirium", and within a few days van Gogh was involuntarily committed. van Gogh continued to suffer with mental illness and physical decline while he struggled to progress as an artist.
One of Van Gogh’s dreams as an artist was to start a colony for artists in Arles in the south of France. Vincent moved to Arles where he was joined by Gauguin. While there, Van Gogh entered the most productive and creative period of his life painting his famous Sunflowers. However, it also was a time of great turmoil for Vincent beginning a period of hospital stays for mental illness and physical decline.. These may have included "regular awakening experiences rather than wakefulness as an ongoing state".
Vincent actually started the Sunflower Series in Paris and continues to pain them after he moved. Vincent became more prolific and creative, despite his illness and produced paintings that are now recognized as works of genius, across all cultures. His most renowned work is of course The Starry Night.
In 1890, after just ten years of painting Vincent van Gogh took his own life. He is buried beside his brother Theo at Auvers-sur-Oise Town Cemetery, Auvers-sur-Oise, Departement du Val-d'Oise, Île-de-France, France.
Vincent van Gogh never achieved success in his lifetime. He painted over 900 paintings. Ironically, it wouldn’t take long for the art world to recognize the genius they lost. Within 20 years of his death he had become famous. 
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