Vincent van Gogh had a rough time in the final three years of his life.
Born in the Netherlands in 1853, he had lapses into mania and delusion throughout young adulthood.
By age 33 in 1886, the year our ClockTower opened,
he had lost his grip on reality.
He was already very ill from heavy drinking and smoker’s cough and possibly syphilis from his habit of local bordellos.
But this was also arguably his most prolific period.
During an acute psychotic episode just before Christmas in 1888 he sliced off his own ear with a razor, and after that things went quickly downhill.
By 1889 he was suffering from deep depression and had fallen out with everyone around him, other artists and even his beloved brother Theo.
He painted “Starry Night” in that same year from his room in a French insane asylum, inspired by his view through a barred window.
But 1890 brought even deeper suffering.
He worked when he could but by July of that year he had lost his battle with psychosis.
On July 27th, 1890 Vincent van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver and died the next day, at only 37.
Now the Dutch have honored his Starry Night painting with a new bicycle path, absorbing sunlight through the day and offering a starry surface for safer nighttime riding.
According to Theo, his brother's last words were
"The sadness will last forever."
Genius can come at high price.
And have a good weekend.
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