Why are Van Gogh Paintings so Valuable & Expensive?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

As one of the most recognizable names in the art world, Dutch painter Vincent Van Goghs paintings are sold for thousands, and sometimes millions, of dollars. Art lovers can view them in museum exhibitions around the world.

The big question is why are Van Goghs paintings so expensive. Is it because of what he painted? Is it because of how he painted? As with most things, the answer to this question combines several factors.

In this article, you will learn who he was, the value of his paintings, and what is so special about them. You will also see one of his famous pieces.

Who was Vincent Van Gogh?

The son of a minister, Vincent Van Gogh, was born in the Netherlands in 1853. He was categorized as a post-impressionist painter.

Though now one of the most famous painters of all time, Van Gogh did not enjoy commercial success while alive and was financially supported by his brother They.

He was a depressed man, and some even considered him mad. At 37, he ended his life by shooting himself in the chest with a revolver.

Why Are His Paintings So Valuable?

As with most things in the art world, Van Goghs success as a painter is due to many contributing factors.

Following his untimely death, his possessions went to his brother Theo. Theo planned to host an art exhibition showcasing Vincents artworks.

Unfortunately, Theo died before he was able to do this. However, his widow continued his work and sought to use the paintings to help care for her and her son.

She had a newborn son to take care of and figured that his future was in selling these paintings of Van Gogh; she became a well-known art dealer, responsible for the demand and prices of his paintings increasing after Van Goghs death.

Van Gogh Paintings

His works are so colorful, strong, and potent. His style quickly became copied and influenced many artists. After Rembrandt van Rijn, he is considered one of the greatest painters of all time.

What Is The Value Of Van Gogh Paintings?

In the late 1800s, he sold The Red Vineyard for 400 francs. That would be equivalent to $2,000 in todays market. However, in 2020, his painting Peasant Woman in Front of a Farmhouse, painted in 1885, sold for between $13.5-16.9 million. This was a huge sale, but it does not compare to some of his other works that have been sold.

What Is So Special About Vincent Van Goghs Paintings?

What makes his paintings so important is that his depiction of light, landscapes, and figures can be admired without the need for color. Van Gogh drew using three colors of chalk (black, blue, and red), pencils, charcoal, and a reed pen. He did mix mediums when he was drawing.

Later he became famous for transmuting great detailing and vibrant colors of his everyday observations onto the canvas. His paintings instantly move you.

When people see his paintings for the first time, they can see the twists and turns of his brushstrokes that aid in moving the eyes throughout the background and foreground. They seemed to impact and captivate those who saw them.

Also Read: How Much Is a Bob Ross Painting Cost?

What is Van Goghs Most Expensive Painting?

At this time, the most expensive Van Gogh painting is the masterpiece Starry Night over the Rhone. It is currently valued between $200-300 million if the painting is sold today. This invaluable painting is currently displayed at Musee dOrsay in Paris, France, since 1975.

Most of his paintings were sold at auction during the 1980s and 1990s. His artwork is often featured at such auctions as Christies New York, where collectors spend millions of dollars on adding the artwork to their collections.

Below is the money they were sold for and what it would be if they were sold in 2014, the year this article about Van Goghs most valuable paintings was written.

1. Portrait of Dr. Gachet

This painting of his friend Dr. Paul Gachet was sold at auction in Christies in 1990 for a price tag of $75 million, but there are reports that it sold for $86 million to Ryoei Saito in Japan.

The adjusted price is $152 million. At the time of the sale, it set the record price for the most expensive painting sold. Today it is the seventh most expensive painting in the world.

Portrait Of Dr. Gachet

2. Portrait of Joseph Roulin

This picture was sold in 1989 by a private collector for $58 million, including the exchange of some other works. Today the adjusted price would be $113 million.

Portrait Of Joseph Roulin

3. Irises

This painting was sold in 1987 for $53.9 million. The adjusted price is $111.2 million. At the time, this was one of the most expensive paintings of Van Goghs to be sold. Van Gogh called it the Lightning conductor for my illness.


How Many Paintings did Van Gogh Paint During his Life?

No one knows the exact count of how many paintings he did. In the late 1880s, while studying painting and color theory at the Antwerpen School of Arts, his sister and mother moved away, leaving behind almost all of his works. Seventy of these works were bought by a junk dealer, some being burned. There was no figure on just how many he had left behind.

During his two years in Paris, Van Gogh created around 200 oil paintings. Around 1888, he spent a year in a state asylum trying to kill his best friend, Paul Gauguin. During this time, he made several paintings of irises, as well as two of his best-known works, Vincents Bedroom and Starry Night.

In 1890, after being released from the state mental hospital, in a span of two months, he painted 90 works. Soon after this marathon of painting, he died after committing suicide. In total, it is estimated that Van Gogh painted over 350 paintings, while others figure it is closer to 900.

Many of his paintings have been destroyed by floods, fires, and other natural disasters, especially during World War 1 and World War 2. Van Gogh also moved around a lot, so he may or may not have left paintings behind during his travels.

How Many Paintings did Van Gogh Sell in his lifetime?

It is very difficult to know how many paintings Vincent Van Gogh sold when he was alive. Van Gogh frequently traded paintings for board and food. Conflicting reports put paintings sold from anywhere from one to hundreds.

How Many Paintings Did Van Gogh Sell In His Lifetime

It is rumored he only sold one painting — The Reed Vineyard — in his lifetime. Though, but reports show he also had several commissions.

He favored portraits, self-portraits, and landscapes, with fields a particular favorite.

His first commission was from his Uncle Cor, who was an art dealer. Wanting to help his nephew out, he ordered a series of 19 cityscapes of The Hague. He also had an art dealer who purchased his works.

Also Read: How to Clean Cigarette Smoke From Paintings

Final Verdict

Vincent Van Gogh was a troubled soul whose paintings did not become famous or valuable until after his death at the age of 37 due to suicide.

Why are Van Goghs paintings so valuable? He has several answers, but most information would credit his brothers widow, who became a famous art dealer, selling his paintings for her sons future.

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Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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