Van Gogh spent his early adult years working for a firm of art dealers, first in The Hague and then in London. During this time he became familiar with the work of the great masters of the Dutch Golden Age as well as with British and French painting. In 1873, he returned to the Netherlands and began to study art seriously, making copies in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. In 1881, he installed himself in The Hague and began working on his first original paintings.
In February 1886, Van Gogh moved to Paris, where he studied the paintings of the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, and Georges Seurat. He bought Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints in the shops on the Rue de la Paix and the Rue Saint-Honoré. His work was rejected by the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français, but he persisted and completed many paintings while living in poverty.
In 1888, Van Gogh visited Arles in southern France, where he produced some of his best-known paintings, including The Potato Eaters (1885), Sunflowers (1888), and the series of portraits of his artist friend Paul Gauguin. In February 1890, he moved to the quieter countryside town of Auvers-sur-Oise, northwest of Paris. There he continued to paint, and on July 27, 1890, he shot himself in the chest with a revolver. He died two days later.
At the time of his death, Van Gogh’s work was largely unknown, but his posthumous fame began to grow in the early 20th century as a result of the critical reevaluations of his work by art historians and the publication of his letters. His reputation as an artist has steadily grown since his death, and he is now widely recognized as one of the greatest painters of all time.