The Art Object’s Historical Data of its Culture and Time Period

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Introduction and Ideology:

Van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter who had moved to France, Paris specifically, sometime during the years of 1885-1886 After living there for a few years with his brother working and learning alongside other post-impressionist artist such as Monet, he moved out of the busy city of Paris and into a small town named Arles, France. Van Gogh’s move to Arles was a turning point in his career, where he developed his own style, such as his thick brush and paint strokes.


Although it had began almost 15 years before Van Gogh moved to France, it was still a very important part of the French’s politics called the French Third Republic. The French Third Republic was a system of government created in France when the Second French Empire collapsed during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. During the French Third Republic was a time known as the Boulangism Movement that lasted from 1886-1890, the times Van Gogh had worked and lived in France.

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General George Boulangism was an army officer who had the idea to campaign to change the Constitution in France. He promoted aggressive nationalism which was known as Revanchism and wanted revenge on Germany from the Franco-Prussian War.

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One thing interesting about him was that he gained a lot of political followers from almost every part of the political spectrum. He was a very radical political figure who ultimately led a group to wanting to seek revenge on Germany for their defeat in the Franco-Prussian War.


Republican France during the time of The Third Republic consisted of many small traders, producers, and consumers. France had been working hard to become an industrialized country and was very close to accomplishing this until it slowed down when the dynamic in the economy had changed. The idea of smaller and subtle changes took over the rapid pace of industrialization. Other than industrialization, the bourgeoisie, the middle class, and peasants wanted laissez-faire law passed which would lower their taxes. One major thing that can be taken away about France during Van Gogh’s time living and painting there was they were ultimately slacking economically. They were growing very slowly and were suffering from major problems when one-third of their vineyards were wiped out from phylloxera.


Catholicism was the main religion in France during all of the 1800s. Catholicism had been France’s primary religion ever since the French Revolution in 1789, a little less than a hundred years before Van Gogh had moved to Paris, France. It was not until after the French Revolution, when the French Constitution was created that gave everyone the Freedom of Religion. Although 28 million people were Catholic in France during this time, many others still practiced different religions which included Islam and Judaism. Through Van Gogh’s time in France up until today, Roman Catholicism remains the state religion of France. (Betros)

Scientific and Technological Advances:

During the late 19th century, industrialization in France continued. Iron and chemical industries were continuing to grow quickly while more railways were being built. A hair dryer, which is still very popular today, was created in France in 1888 by a French hairdresser. It was not as easily moved around like the portable ones women and men still use today. (McFadden) Other great technological advances this time included things such as Smokeless Gunpowder, the first patented film camera. These few things had created the basis for all of the crazy technology, science, and architecture we know and continue to learn about today.

The Role of Artists in Society during the Van Gogh’s time in France:

The start of post-impressionism lead to so many other amazing art techniques that were used by so many famous paintings we know and love today. Post-impressionism first came to the rise after Impressionist artist Monet created many beautiful paintings such as Sunrise, an art critic gave the art style the name Impressionism. After around 1886, Impressionism needed a change which led to post-impressionism. These artists, including Van Gogh, fled to Paris, France for inspiration for this new movement in art. Here is where Van Gogh learned much of his technique before moving to Arles to escape the busy city which many post- impressionist artists did after gaining their knowledge and style in Paris. (The Art Story: Post-Impressionism)

Brief biography of the artist:

Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 in in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands. He was the oldest of 6 children and picked up the love of art from his mother who loved drawing nature and using watercolors to paint. He went to school until he was 15 years old where then he was forced to drop out of school to work and help support his family who were not very financially stable. In 1880 is when Van Gogh had finally made the decision to become an artist and moved to Brussels. He had no money to take classes so he taught himself using different artbooks and was financially supported by his brother Theo. In 1886, Van Gogh showed up to this brother Theo’s small apartment in Paris uninvited. His brother accepted him in and Van Gogh soon began to learn the style of impressionist artist and fell in love with the color and style. He began to learn other styles of art such as pointillism and cloisonnism.

After gaining more knowledge during his time in Paris, Van Gogh decided to escape the hustle and bustle of the city life and decided to move into the “yellow house” in Arles, France. Here is where Van Gogh created many of his paintings he know today. After living here for about a year, he had fell in love with a prostitute from a local brothel and had famously cut off his ear lobe and sent it to her. He was admitted into the hospital and after his time there he was admitted into a mental asylum near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Van Gogh had created 142 paintings during his one year in the asylum. After a little less than a year in the asylum, Dr. Paul Gachet had agreed to take Van Gogh as his patient. Dr. Paul Gachet lived in Auvers so Van Gogh moved there in the beginning of 1890 and rented a room. During July of that same year, Van Gogh committed suicide. His brother Theo passed away 6 months after him and Theo’s wife Johanna began collecting as many as Van Gogh’s paintings as she could. A lot of Van Gogh’s paintings had been thrown out by his mother. On March 17th, 1901, 71 of his paintings were displayed at a show in Paris. After this, he began to grow popular all over the world. Today, Van Gogh is still one of the most well-known artists today. His artwork tells many stories, some being happy and some being sad. Vincent Van Gogh will always remain one of the most important and famous post-impressionist ever to live on this Earth.

Cultural context of the time period that the work was produced: During Van Gogh’s time in France, where he painted many of his most popular paintings today, impressionists were the dominant force at the time. At the same time, Pointillists and Cloisonnists were trying out their hand in different styles of art. Impressionists were trying out different lights and shadows, pointillists separated colors by using individuals dots all around their canvas to create a painting, and Cloisonnists painted bold forms and shapes with dark outlines. (Becoming Vincent Van Gogh: The Paris Years: Siegal) These different styles would all become a very big help in Van Gogh’s future.

Describe the painting place in the history of art in terms of its artistic style: During Vincent Van Gogh’s lifetime he was nowhere near being rich or famous. Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime and for a majority of his life he lived in poverty. After living in Paris and learning much about painting techniques and other styles of painting he moved to Arles, France where he created most of his paintings. After living in Arles for about a year, he is admitted into the hospital after the famous event of him cutting off his ear lobe. When he is released from the hospital, he is admitted into the asylum Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. (Vincent: Chronology)

During his time in the asylum, he had began to get better then suffered many more relapses such as hallucinations and trying to poison himself. He began to paint like the way he did in the beginning of his career with sad and dark colors which he had used in the beginning of his career. The painting of The Starry Night is the perfect example of his depression returning. Everything is painted in blues, grays, and browns. There is the use of yellow in the sky which is the big part of the painting that grabs your attention the most. Everything is outlined in black and he uses very thick strokes all throughout the canvas. This painting is so incredibly interesting as well because it was most likely all imagined by Van Gogh. This was not the view from his room in Saint-Rémy and he always paints what he sees physically. (Vincent Van Gogh Gallery)

Updated: Apr 19, 2023
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The Art Object’s Historical Data of its Culture and Time Period. (2021, Sep 01). Retrieved from

The Art Object’s Historical Data of its Culture and Time Period essay
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