Vincent van Gogh (IN: Suicide and the Creative Arts, edited by S Stack & D Lester)

This chapter examines the life and suicide of Vincent van Gogh. Analysis is based on correspondence to & from van Gogh. (30 refs.)

Vincent van Gogh (1853-90): the Plumbic Artist

Following van Gogh’s death in 1890, numerous physicians have offered diagnostic opinions regarding his still unverified illness. In this article, it is hypothesized van Gogh’s suicide may have been precipitated by plumbism, the exposure to lead. The symptoms of plumbism mimic other illnesses & its destructive effects are not always recognized. (141 refs.)

Frenhofer’s Suicide and the Downfall of le Baron Gros

In June 1835 the death by suicide of the famed French painter, Antoine-Jean Gros, was announced. At the time, Gros’s suicide was thought to be related to an incurable depression brought on by a disastrous showing at the annual Salon a few months earlier. The author of this article argues Gros’s inner torments & eventual […]

The Illness of Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) had an eccentric personality & unstable moods, suffered from recurrent psychotic episodes during the last 2 years of his life, & died by suicide at the age of 37. Despite limited evidence, well over 150 physicians have ventured a perplexing variety of diagnoses of his illness. In this article, the highlights […]

The Bitter One (IN: Sudden Endings, by M J Meaker)


My Friend the Painter

This edition is an English translation.

Suicide Among Eminent Artists

Risk of suicide among elite artists was evaluated using data from Garzantiƕs Encyclopaedia. Artists were categorized as architects, painters, sculptors, writers, poets, & playwrights. Only deaths which occurred in the 1800s or 1900s were included. A total of 59 suicides were observed in the sample of 3,093 artists who died. The comparison by profession shows […]

Suicide (IN: Vincent van Gogh: Chemicals, Crises, and Creativity, by W N Arnold)

Case Consultation: Diffusion of Responsibility in the Care of a Difficult Patient

This case shows how a patient’s psychopathology can set caregivers against each other & promote suicide. Mark Rothko, the New York abstract expressionist painter was under the care of 3 doctors at the time of his suicide in 1970. Polypharmacy & confusion over medications were continual problems. This article describes the circumstances of the case […]

The Tragic Lives of Vincent and Theo

This article gives a brief summary of the lives of Vincent & Theo Van Gogh. Vincent’s short but prolific artistic career is outlined as are his bouts with mental illness. His reliance on his brother, Theo, for emotional & financial support throughout his lifetime is described. The incidence of mental illness in Wilhelmina & Cornelius, […]

A Modern Melancholia: Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr Gachet

This article details the portrait of Dr. Gachet, excerpts letters by Van Gogh & a medical thesis on melancholia by Gachet, & notes a correspondence between the thesis description, Gachet’s portrait & some self-portraits produced by Van Gogh (eyebrow crease, creases between the eye-sockets, accentuated naso-labial fold, pinched mouth, & leaning head & shoulders). Images […]

Vincent: the Self-Portraits

The self-portraits of Vincent Van Gogh are examined in the context of his tragic life experience, ending in psychosis & suicide. The self-portraits are seen as repeated & unresolved efforts at self exploration & self-definition in an attempt to add a sense of continuity & cohesion to a fragile & fragmented self-experience. The portraits are […]

Artists who Have Committed Suicide

Brief biographies are provided of the following artists who committed suicide: Bassano, Bluemner, Borromini, Bruce, Cagamas, Dayes, DeStael, Elwes, Flanagan, Fuchs, Gerstl, Gillray, Gorky, Gros, Haydon, Kirchner, Kruyder, Kurzweil, Lawson, Lehnbruck, Le Moyne, Maurer, Mayer, Parmigianino, Pascin, Paulsen, Ricci, Rosso, Rothko, Sauce, Seymor, Tassaert, Testa, Tilson, Tinelli, Torrigiano, van Gogh, van Laer, Wiedewilt, deWitte & […]

Van Gogh had Meniere’s Disease and not Epilepsy

The authors intend to correct the belief that Van Gogh’s medical problems resulted from epilepsy & madness by reviewing 796 of his personal letters to family & friends, written between 1884 & his suicide in 1890. They argue that the clinical descriptions in Van Gogh’s letters are those of a person suffering from Meniere’s disease, […]

The Suicide of Mark Rothko

This article describes the life & suicide of artist, Mark Rothko. Rothko was chronically depressed throughout his life, & antidepressants did not serve to alleviate his depression. He was insecure about his artwork, a hypochondriac, had alienated many of his friends & family, & was an alcoholic. The author draws a parallel between Rothko & […]

Vincent Van Gogh

This biography of Vincent Van Gogh describes his unhappy childhood, & unsuccessful (in his life-time) career & relationships, & fits of anger. The author finds that Van Gogh may have been psychotic, & had a personality disorder. The author also asserts that Van Gogh’s suicide may fit Freud’s view that suicide is anger against someone […]

The Illness and Art of Vincent Van Gogh

Slaby discusses a film called “To Paint the Stars: The Life & Death of Vincent Van Gogh.” The filmaker, Kay Jamison, asserts that Van Gogh may have suffered from manic depressive illness. She points out that productivity is increased during periods of manic energy. He may have also suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy. Another theory […]

Mark Gertler

This article provides a biography of artist, Mark Gertler (1890-1939). Mark experienced depressions & migraine headaches for most of his life. He was poor for most of his childhood, but had success with his painting early in his career. However, he did experience periodic money troubles. His finances became more secure in time, & in […]

Mark Rothko’s Paintings – – Suicide Notes?

Mark Rothko (1903-1970), an influential 20th century artist & a founder of the School of Abstract Expressionism, committed suicide at the peak of his career. The authors feel that, since he did not leave a note at the scene, his paintings might be viewed as suicide notes. (NBB)

Vincent Van Gogh – His Psychopathology as Reflected in His Oil Paintings

An attempt is made to show that Van Gogh felt that he was never able to meet his parents’ expectations. He felt as an unwanted outsider and later on suffered rejections by his loved objects. A dynamic interpretation of his self-mutilation and suicide is suggested.

An Inquiry Into Art and Madness: The Career of Jochen Seidel

Examines how the artist, J. Seidel, who suffered from psychotic episodes & eventually committed suicide, attempted to resolve deep-seated psychological conflicts through painting. Material from Seidel’s life illustrates efforts to deal with loss, depression, guilt & anxiety through art. It is suggested that creative work is a response to loss & an effort at self-healing. […]

Psychoanalytic Observations on the Last Painting and Suicide of Vincent Van Gogh

This article examines the last 18 months of Van Gogh’s life. The author applies psychoanalytic theory to the artist’s writings & paintings in an effort to clarify his motives for suicide. Influences of Gaugin, Vincent’s brother & Roulin are discussed. A detailed analysis of Van Gogh’s correspondance, ‘La Berceuse’ & ‘Crows over the Wheatfield’ is […]

A Discussion of the Paper by Marcel Heiman on “Psychoanalytic Observations on the Last Painting and Suicide of Vincent Van Gogh”