This Day in History: March 30

Tortured artistic genius Vincent van Gogh born in 1853
By , Coin World
Published : 03/30/16
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Many today consider Van Gogh as one of the most famous and prolific artists ever, although he had a short tragic life as a disturbed genius.

The great Dutch-French artist was born on March 30, 1853, and would die in 1890 by a self-inflicted gunshot. 

The Dutch post-Impressionist painter’s work had far-reaching influence on 20th century art, though it was little noticed during his lifetime.

The prolific van Gogh created portraits, self-portraits, landscapes, still lifes, olive trees, cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers, noted for their expressive and spontaneous use of vivid colors and broad oil brushstrokes. 

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A rectangular 2007 silver dollar for Niue Island honors two of his most famous paintings, Starry Night and Sunflowers. On the side with Sunflowers, the coin shows a portion from one of his self-portrait paintings.

The Mint of Poland struck the 2007 coin. 

The obverse depicts Starry Night, painted in 1889, but has three zircon crystals of different colors set into the nighttime sky as stars, and much of the famous painting portrayed in color.  

The village of Saint-Remy and the French countryside, at the bottom of the painting, are depicted in relief, in contrast to the swirling, fiery drama of the night sky, portrayed in a panoply of color.

Since 1941 the original Starry Night has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. 

The coin's reverse features two more of Van Gogh’s masterworks.  

Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, from the famous Sunflowers series of paintings, is shown in full color. This particular painting is held in the collection of the Neue Pinakothek in Munich, Germany.  

The second painting represented is a self-portrait of the artist with a brush, positioned so that he appears to be regarding and signing Vase with Twelve Sunflowers. The design also features a reproduction of his signature VINCENT slightly overlapping his printed, engraved surname. The dates of his birth and death also appear as part of the design.

The Polish Mint engraved the uncolorized background of Sunflowers in heavy relief, to mimic the artist’s impasto effect from the actual painting’s backdrop.  

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