Nancy Whitesides asks why Van Gogh had difficulty selling his work – was it perhaps because his style was too radical or contemporary for his time? Discover the answer.
It’s common for artists not to sell many works as they are starting out. Vincent initially had the idea of finding a job as a magazine illustrator, but he first needed to master the trade. That’s why he primarily produced drawings in his early years, and even sold a few.
At the time, nobody was interested in buying his Dutch period paintings – rather traditional works using a sombre palette. But when Vincent moved to Paris and started experimenting with a lighter, brighter palette and new style, his work was considered to be avant-garde-esque, together with that of artists including Bernard, Toulouse-Lautrec and Signac.
Unfortunately for Vincent, sales of avant-garde works were also slow, and recognition initially only came from within his own crowd. If you also consider that Vincent only worked as an artist for a decade, it’s perhaps not surprising that he hardly sold any works. It’s a shame, because he could have done with the money!