Detailed Chronology of the Artist's Life (30 March 1853 - 29 July 1890)

Brief Chronology

Vincent's Paternal Grandparents

  • Vincent's paternal grandfather held the name so common in the family, Vincent van Gogh. He was, like his son Theodorus, Vincent's father, a Protestant pastor and also a church leader, and director of a Protestant school. He gained some measure of fame as a religious leader in the area. While Vincent is remembered for his determined dedication to art and a life of poverty, his family was generally career minded, often choosing either a religious path, or they became art dealers. Grandfather retired from his work in 1853 due to health issues. Vincent is said to have found his grandfather rather cold and distant, even unpleasant.
  • Grandmother Elisabeth came from Switzerland and several of her sons, including Vincent's father and Uncle Cent, married women from the Carbentus family.
Grandfather Vincent van Gogh (11 February 1789 - 7 May 1874) Grandmother Elisabeth Hubetra Vrijdag (1790 - 1875)
Vincent van Gogh
11 February 1789 - 7 May 1874
Elisabeth Huberta Vrijdag


  • 6 November - Uncle Vincent van Gogh (Uncle Cent) marries Cornelia Carbentus in The Hague.
  • Though Vincent had ten uncles and aunts on his father's side, Uncle Cent was to be closer and more of an influence on him in his future. Childless, perhaps Uncle Cent saw Vincent as more than a nephew, and as a successful art dealer he was to attempt to help Vincent become a success in that field also.
Vincent van Gogh (Uncle Cent) 1820 - 1888
Vincent (Uncle Cent) van Gogh
1820 - 1888


  • 21 May - Theodorus van Gogh marries Anna Cornelia Carbentus in The Hague.
  • Theodorus, Vincent's father, has been a pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church in Groot-Zundert since 1 April 1849.
  • Anna, Vincent's mother, is the sister of Uncle Cent's wife, the sister-in-law of Theodorus.
Theodorus van Gogh, Vincent's Father (2 February 1822 - 26 March 1885) Anna Cornelia Carbentus van Gogh, Vincent's Mother (10 September 1819 - 1907)
Theodorus van Gogh
2 February 1822 - 26 March 1885
Anna Cornelia Carbentus van Gogh
10 September 1819 - 29 April 1907

  • The drawing below is stated by equally reputable sources to be of Vincent's father and grandfather, the exact answer being unclear. Drawn in Etten in 1881 Vincent's grandfather had been deceased for seven years, and his father at age 59 would likely have been close to this appearance. It is most likely to be a drawing of Theodorus van Gogh.
  • Vincent painted his mother as a gift for her in 1888 and told his brother Theo that he could not stand black and white photographs, and was painting her in the colors he remembered from
Theodorus van Gogh, Drawing by Vincent, (F 876, JH 14) Etten, July 1881 Anna Cornelia Carbentus van Gogh, Painting by Vincent, (F 477, JH 1600), Arles, October 1888
Theodorus van Gogh
Drawing (F 876, JH 14) Etten 1881

Anna Cornelia Carbentus van Gogh
Painting (F 477, JH 1600) Arles 1888


  • 30 March - Anna and Theodorus van Gogh have a child they name Vincent Willem van Gogh, who unfortunately dies in childbirth.


  • 30 March - Anna and Theodorus have a second child born in Groot-Zundert on the same day as the child who was was stillborn, 30 March, and they also name him Vincent Willem van Gogh. This is not an uncommon practice, and this name is one commonly given to boys born into the van Gogh family.
  • The presbytery building in Groot-Zundert where both Vincent and Theo van Gogh were born. The celebration in the image has nothing to do with Vincent, but coincidentally the flag in the upper right window marks the room where Vincent drew his first breath.

  • Most researchers agree that only two photographs of Vincent exist. The first is of Vincent in 1866 at the age of 13. Six years later a second photograph was taken at age 19, in 1872.
Vincent van Gogh, 1866, Age 13 Vincent van Gogh, 1872, Age 19
Vincent van Gogh
1866, Age 13
Vincent van Gogh
1872, Age 19

  • Several photographs have surfaced over the years with claims of the image being Vincent van Gogh.
  • The image on the left was taken in 1887 Paris and indeed features Paul Gauguin and several other artists. Some claim the pipe smoking man to be Vincent but the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, disagrees, claiming it does not even look like Vincent.
  • Another image was put forth in the 1990's, found in Canada, and indeed looks much like Vincent's many self-portraits. But again most authorities on Vincent say it is not him. Those claiming it is perhaps damaged their case when they also claimed that the two accepted images of Vincent were not, but were his brother Theo instead.
  • We have included a self-portrait that is similar in pose and appearance for your consideration.
Paris 1887 Photograph Reuted to be Vincent Van Gogh Reputed Photograph of Vincent van Gogh Anna Cornelia Carbentus van Gogh, Painting by Vincent, (F 477, JH 1600), Arles, October 1888
Reputed van Gogh Photograph
Paris 1887
Reputed van Gogh Photograph
Found in Canada, 1990's
Self-portrait, Reversed Image
Painting (F 345, JH 1249) 1887


  • 17 February - Sister Anna Cornelia van Gogh is born.
    One of five siblings Vincent was to have, he was never close to Anna and over time their relationship grew even more strained.
Anna Cornelia van Gogh, Vincent's Sister (17 February 1855 - 20 September 1930)
Anna Cornelia van Gogh
17 February 1855 - 20 September 1930


  • 1 May - Brother Theodorus 'Theo' van Gogh is born in Groot-Zundert (1 May 1857 - 25 January 1891).
    Vincent was closer to his brother Theo than anyone else in his life, and Theo supported him both financially and in many other ways throughout Vincent's life. Sometimes there were difficulties and friction between the two, but Theo never wavered from seeing the potential in his brother's art. We can be thankful that they corresponded often, hundreds of letters written over their lives, as these writings tell us much of what we know about Vincent's art and intentions. We can also be thankful for Theo as he kept most correspondence whereas Vincent, living lightly and moving often, did not many of the letters sent from Theo.

Theo van Gogh, 1870, Age 13 Theo van Gogh, 1878, Age 21
Theo van Gogh
1870, Age 13
Theo van Gogh
1878, Age 21

Theo van Gogh, circa 1888, Age 31 Theo van Gogh, circa 1889, Age 32
Theo van Gogh
circa 1888, Age 31
Theo van Gogh
circa 1889, Age 32


  • 16 March - Sister Elisabeth Huberta van Gogh is born.
    Vincent also was not extremely close to this sister who wrote a memoir of him in 1920 that has sometimes been poorly received. This work can be read for free online at Personal Recollections of Vincent van Gogh.
Elisabeth Huberta van Gogh, Vincent's Sister (16 March 1859 - 29 November 1936)
Elisabeth 'Lies' Huberta van Gogh
16 March 1859 - 29 November 1936


  • January - Vincent begins school at age eight at the Zundert village school. He shall attend here form January 1861 until September 1864.
  • 26 March - Uncle Cent becomes a partner in the art dealing firm of Goupil & Cie.


  • 16 March - Sister Willemina Jacoba van Gogh is born in Zundert, Netherlands.
    The youngest of the sisters and the closest to Vincent, he wrote her letters over the years revealing more of a relationship with her than his other sisters. Called Wil by the family, she was one of the early feminists in Europe, but sadly shared with Vincent some sort of mental illness. On 4 December 1902 she was admitted to an asylum at Ermelo, Netherlands, where she spent almost four decades, rarely speaking and having to be fed artificially, before her death at age 79.
Willemina Jacoba van Gogh, Vincent's Sister (16 March 1862 - 17 May 1941)
Willemina 'Wil' Jacoba van Gogh
16 March 1862 - 17 May 1941


  • October - Now 11 years old, on October 1 Vincent begins attending Jan Provily's private boarding school located in Zevenbergen. He studies the French, English, and German languages, and stays until 31 August 1866. It is here that he makes the first drawings we know of.


  • September - At age 13 Vincent transfers to King Wilhelm II, the state-run boarding school located at Tilburg. He shall stay here until March 1868.


  • 17 May - Brother Cornelius van Gogh is born in Zundert, Netherlands.
    Called Cor by the family and ten years younger than Vincent, there was not a strong connection between Cor and Vincent. Sadly the youngest of the siblings had the same fate as his brothers of an early death. After a failed marriage he was serving in the military in Johannesburg, South Africa in the Anglo-Boer War. His death was listed officially as being killed in action but stories persist that he actually committed suicide.
Cornelius van Gogh, Vincent's Brother (17 May 1867 - 24 April 1900)
Cornelius 'Cor' van Gogh
17 May 1867 - 24 April 1900


  • March - Vincent completes all of the formal education he shall ever have, seven years of school, at age 15. He returns home to Groot-Zundert to live with his parents. It is not clear why he left school at this point, perhaps for financial reasons, but others believe it was due to poor performance in school. This could be likely as Vincent would often have trouble conforming to regimens and rules imposed by others, while showing amazing will power in pursuing his own path.


  • 1 August - Vincent begins work as an apprentice art dealer at the firm of Goupil & Cie, at the age of 16. His Uncle Cent is a partner in the Paris based company which operates offices in London, Brussels, and an office Uncle Cent opened in The Hague. Vincent begins at The Hague under the management of H. G. Tersteeg assisting in the sale of artworks including paintings, lithographs, photographs, and more. While Vincent had only a few years of school he spends much of his time in the city furthering his knowledge by reading and visiting museums.