Top 15 Facts About The Starry Night From Van Gogh (2023)

*Originally published by Christine M on May 2020 and Updated by Vanessa in October 2022

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most celebrated artists in the world. He, however, became troubled in the 1880s and suffered fits of insanity and depression which he got treated for in Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France.

This artist had bursts of productivity contrary to moods of despair, during which he painted. The Starry Night is an oil on canvas painting Van Gogh did in 1889, that clearly showcases the tonal shift in his works from the bright colors to the darker variety.

The top 10 facts about The Starry Night from Van Gogh will give you insider information that can smile about the next time you see the painting on a fridge magnet, mug, towel, or any other item as is often printed.

1. The Starry Night depicts Van Gogh’s view from an asylum.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night- Sourced from Pixabay

Van Gogh checked himself into an asylum when he had a mental break down. It is during his stay at this asylum that Van Gogh created one of the most recognized pieces of art in the world- The Starry Night.

Van Gogh’s preferred method of working was through observation- hence it was only natural that he painted what he saw around him. The Starry Night is literally what he saw from his room’s window as well as what he saw when he walked in the countryside near the asylum.

It is recorded in one of Van Gogh’s letters to Theo his brother, that he saw the country from his window prior to dawn and observed a large looking star. This was more than enough inspiration that Van Gogh needed for The Starry Night.

2. The Starry Night is construed to be about mortality.

(Video) Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night: Great Art Explained

Van Gogh portrait- Wikimedia Commons

Van Gogh did speak about his own painting, The Starry Night. He is quoted as saying “Looking at the stars always makes me dream. Why I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star.”

He painted cypress trees in the foreground of The Starry Night, perhaps intentionally as the tree is associated with death and cemeteries. This, coupled with his state of mind while at the asylum and his own quote mentioned giving a whole new way of looking at his painting. Mortality.

3. There are two Van Gogh Starry Nights

Starry Night Over the Rhone- by
Vincent van Gogh- Wikimedia Commons

Van Gogh first painted The Starry night in 1888. When he got to France in 1888 he loved capturing the lights at night. He painted this scene in The Starry Night draft with a backdrop of the Rhone River. This painting is sometimes referred to as Starry Night Over The Rhone.

Van Gogh’s second Starry Night which he painted in 1889 gained more popularity than his first

4. The Starry Night by Van Gogh is Venus the planet

Planet Venus- by Pringl1234- Wikimedia Commons

According to the University of California art historian Albert Boime, Van Gogh actually painted planet Venus in the Starry Night. In 1985 Boime compared the painting to a planetarium recreation of how the sky on June 1, 1889 would have looked like. He found striking similarities between the painting and the recreation. The conclusion was thus that Van Gogh did paint planet Venus unknowingly.

5. Van Gogh’s The Starry Night sits in New York

Starry Night in Manhattan Museum- by Wholtone- Wikimedia Commons

(Video) 10 Secrets of Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

The Manhattan Museum of Modern Art is the proud owner of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It paid quite the prize to have it too- three pieces from its impressive collection were sold so as to acquire the Starry Night!

Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art was founded by Mary Quinn Sullivan, Abby Aldrich, and Lillie P. Bliss. The latter was one of the foremost collectors of modern art. She had the wealth to support her ‘habit’. Bliss died in 1931 and most of her collection went to the museum, becoming its center of attraction and also funding the purchase of The Starry Night.

6. The Starry Night was promoted by Van Gogh’s sister in law

Johanna Gezina van Gogh-Bonger, Theo’s wife is credited with getting Van Gogh’s work appreciated and thus his posthumous fame. She promoted his works and exhibitions which she inherited from her husband Theo, Van Gogh’s brother. Upon Van Gogh’s death in 1890, Theo had inherited all of his works.

7. The Starry Nights village wasn’t painted from observation

While Van Gogh detailed what he could see of the sky from his room, he wouldn’t have been able to see the village, Saint-Rémy. He, however, did include a village in the Starry Night. He is said to have either painted it from his memory of the French town or got the inspiration for it from his birthplace, the Netherlands.

8. Van Gogh wanted the Starry Night picturesque

Van Gogh’s room- by Saint Rémy de Provence Tourisme- Wikimedia Commons

Despite evidence of Van Gogh’s room having a window with bars through which he was able to see and paint The Starry Night, Van Gogh left out the windows’ bars. Definitely, because Starry Night had to be appealing, and the bars would just not cut it for this particular painting.

(Video) 15 Things You Didn't Know About Vincent Van Gogh

The artist wrote to Theo his brother, “Through the iron-barred window. I can see an enclosed square of wheat … above which, in the morning, I watch the sunrise in all its glory.” This is evidence of the bars- Van Gogh did only what most would do- present the best image to the world.

This is just one of the liberties that Art historians believe Van Gogh took with the Starry Night. His bedroom was on the second floor and the view from here may not have given the exact view that is Starry Night. Art historians have determined that van Gogh took some liberties with the view from his second-story bedroom window, a theory supported by the fact that the studio in which he painted was on the building’s first floor.

9. The lights in the Starry Night seem to flicker

Van Gogh’s Starry Night aptly enlightens the scientific mystery of movement and light. Its lights seem to flicker because of the way the human brain perceives it. This is so for most Impressionists’ works due to the brains perceptions of light and motion.

The intensity of light in the colors on the canvas creates luminance. Part of the eye sees light contrast and motion but not color and blends two differently colored parts just as if they have the same luminance. The brain, however, will see the contrasting colors without blending resulting in the light seemingly flickering.

There has been a lot of research on Van Gogh’s Starry night to decipher this. One researcher, Natalya St. Clair’s findings concluded that the Starry Night is an accurate depiction of turbulence.

10. Van Gogh thought his Starry Night a failure!

It is difficult to conceive that such an iconic painting by a revered artist could be deemed a failure. Well, that’s what it was according to Van Gogh. He thought his painting was a failure at abstract art. Van Gogh felt that his piece was far too removed from the real rhythms of life and nature. That is was too abstract!

The astonishing detail on the Starry Night is a far cry from what Van Gogh felt about it- it is set on a night sky with blue swirls and a glowing crescent. The stars look like radiating orbs. Cypress trees are painted on the side of the foreground and there is a structured village in the background. One can make out cottages and a church. The Starry Night was well thought out and quite cohesive.

11. There seem to be references to death in Starry Night

By the time he painted Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh was obviously out of control of his life. Not only did he lose trust in religion during this time, but he also sent some amazing letters to his brother.

He states in one letter to his brother:

“I need astarry night with cypressesor—perhaps above a field of ripe wheat; there are some really beautiful nights here.”

(Video) Understanding Van Gogh's Starry Night - (Interesting Facts)

Most often, cemeteries and death are connected with cypress trees. In a different letter, he stated:

“Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen,we take death to reach a star.”

12. The stars may allude to the afterlife

At the same time, Van Gogh mentions his belief in an afterlife in some remarkable ways. He stated in a letter:

“It would be so simple and would account so much for the terrible things in life, which now amaze and wound us so, if life had yet another hemisphere, invisible it is true, but where one lands when one dies. Hope is in the stars.”

13. The moon is not a precise illustration

Another finding of the investigation was that the moon wasn’t in the crescent phase when Van Gogh created Starry Night. The moon was actually half-moon at the time, which means it was roughly three-quarters full.

According to a suggestion put out by Albert Boime, Van Gogh had originally planned to paint the gibbous moon but changed his mind and gave it a more conventional and familiar appearance.

14. One of the priciest works of art in the world is Starry Night

Not terrible for a piece of art that the artist considered unsuccessful, am I right? On our list of most expensive paintings, it ranks second. The value is reportedly about $900 million.

Please be aware that the list only includes artwork that is on view to the public at museums, not privately owned artwork.

15. The painting had several owners

Starry Night by AIKATERINI PAPOUTSA from Wikimedia Commons

On September 28, 1889, Theo Van Gogh, Vincent’s brother, in Paris, received Starry, Night and nearly a dozen more paintings. But Theo passed away just six months after Vincent killed himself.

After that, the following happened to the painting:

(Video) Top 10 Facts - Vincent van Gogh // Top Facts

  • After Theo died, Vincent’s widowJobecame the owner.
  • Jo sold the painting to poetJulien Leclercqin Paris in 1900.
  • He in return sold it to French painterÉmile Schuffeneckerin 1901.
  • Remarkably,Jobought it back from him shortly after.
  • Jo sold Starry Night to the “Oldenzeel Gallery” in Rotterdam in 1906.
  • Georgette P. van Stolk of that gallery sold it to art dealerPaul Rosenbergin 1938.
  • Paul Rosenberg sold the painting to theMuseum of Modern Art in New Yorkin 1941.

Van Gogh loved painting the night sky- he felt that night was much more alive and richer in color than the day. His love for the night was exemplified in his Starry Night. It’s a pity that he died young and didn’t get to produce more ‘Starry Nights’. He, however, is a much-celebrated artist. You can read more about Van Gogh’s life here.


What is the best thing about starry night? ›

The famous starry night by vincent van gogh is considered to be one of his greatest creations to date. The painting depicts a tranquil night on an average evening. The ambiance in the painting evokes some rather strong emotions within the viewer.

What is the big thing in starry night? ›

One or two cypress trees, often described as flame-like, tower over the foreground to the left, their dark branches curling and swaying to the movement of the sky that they partly obscure. Amid all this animation, a structured village sits in the distance on the lower right of the canvas.

How many starry nights does Van Gogh have? ›

Van Gogh made no less than 21 variations of the Starry Night under different light conditions and weather, just because he wasn't completely satisfied with the final output. In fact, in a letter to painter Émile Bernard, Van Gogh called this painting a failure.

How much is starry night worth? ›

The Starry Night original painting by Vincent van Gogh, painted in 1889, is estimated to be worth over $100 million. However, this painting is one of van Gogh's masterpieces and it can also be argued that there cannot be a price for it – it is priceless. What is this?

Why did Van Gogh make starry night? ›

Van Gogh was seeking respite from plaguing depression at the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy in southern France when he painted The Starry Night. It reflects his direct observations of his view of the countryside from his window as well as the memories and emotions this view evoked in him.

Who owns The Starry Night? ›

It has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City since 1941, acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. Widely regarded as Van Gogh's magnum opus, The Starry Night is one of the most recognizable paintings in Western art.

How does starry night make you feel? ›

In Starry Night contoured forms are a means of expression and they are used to convey emotion. Many feel that van Gogh´s turbulent quest to overcome his illness is reflected in the dimness of the night sky. The village is painted with dark colors but the brightly lit windows create a sense of comfort.

What type of art is The Starry Night? ›

The Starry Night

How big is The Starry Night painting? ›

What are the black things in starry night? ›

23 But in his isolation he produced, among other works, the widely acclaimed painting, The Starry Night. His isolation undoubtedly impacted the creation of this painting. The tall and dark cypress trees loom over the town of Saint-Rémy, watching over the town almost wistfully and from afar.

Why is a starry night so famous? ›

Vincent van Gogh painted The Starry Night while he was a patient in a mental asylum at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. The swirling composition of the sky and the melancholic blue color palette have caused the artwork to become one of the most recognizable paintings of all time.

Whats the most expensive painting? ›

The Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold

The most valuable painting in history must surely be the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Although it is considered priceless, we can determine some numerical value by looking at the insurance value of the painting. In 1962 the masterpiece was assessed at a value of $100 million.

What do you mean by starry sky? ›

adjective [ADJECTIVE noun] A starry night or sky is one in which a lot of stars are visible.

What did Starry Night sell for? ›

It is impossible to place a value on such a famous and treasured work of art, though other works by Van Gogh have sold for more than 80 million dollars at auction. As arguably Van Gogh's most famous work of art, it is safe to estimate the value of Starry Night at well over 100 million dollars.

Can I buy Starry Night? ›

You can own a museum-quality handmade art reproduction of "The Starry Night" by artist Vincent van Gogh in 1889. The oil painting will be reproduced on artist-level linen canvas by an expert painter. You can select from multiple sizing options and top quality frames.

What's the cheapest van Gogh? ›

Orphan Man (1882)

Poised to be the most affordable work in the sale, this oddly titled work shows a profile portrait of Adrianus Jacobus Zuyderland, who was one of Van Gogh's most frequent models.

When did van Gogh paint Starry Night? ›

Vincent van Gogh painted Starry Night in 1889 during his stay at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

What did van Gogh say about Starry Night? ›

In one letter to his brother Theo, he wrote, “But the sight of the stars always makes me dream… Why, I say to myself, should the spots of light in the firmament be less accessible to us than the black spots on the map of France?

Who painted the scream? ›

The National Museum in Oslo holds one of the world's most important collections of paintings by Edvard Munch, including such iconic works as "The Scream".

What is the most expensive painting by Van Gogh? ›

1. Portrait of Dr Paul Gachet, $83m, 1990. Portrait of Dr Paul Gachet still holds the record for the most expensive Van Gogh, although it sold as long ago as 1990. At Christie's it fetched $83m, then the highest auction price for a work by any artist.

What colors are used in Starry Night? ›

1 The deep blue sky surrounding the stars: predominantly artificial ultramarine. 2 Brighter blue swirling sky and the area surrounding the Moon: predominantly cobalt blue. 3 Green strokes around the Moon: emerald green. 4 The deeper yellow of the Moon and the stars: Indian yellow and zinc yellow.

Who were 3 famous impressionist? ›

Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro are some of the famous impressionist artists. Let us go into further details and notable works of them.

Who painted the scream? ›

The National Museum in Oslo holds one of the world's most important collections of paintings by Edvard Munch, including such iconic works as "The Scream".

What were Vincent van Gogh's last words? ›

As he lay on his death bed, having apparently shot himself, Vincent Van Gogh is said to have uttered the final words, "The sadness will last forever". It's hard to imagine a bleaker prophecy from the famed and deeply troubled Dutch artist.

What are 10 facts about Leonardo Davinci? ›

Top 10 facts
  • Leonardo Da Vinci was born near Florence in Italy in 1452.
  • Leonardo's parents were not married. ...
  • Da Vinci was a huge animal lover. ...
  • Leonardo was left handed. ...
  • Leonardo obviously had an amazing mind but believe it or not he never went to school! ...
  • The Mona Lisa is a portrait of the wife of a Florentine official.

When did Van Gogh cut off his ear? ›

Until Murphy's well-researched book on the artist's 15 months in Arles, it was generally accepted that Van Gogh had cut off only part of his ear late in the evening of 23 December 1888 at the Yellow House.

Is The Scream still missing? ›

On May 7, 1994, Norway's most famous painting, “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, is recovered almost three months after it was stolen from a museum in Oslo.

Whats the most expensive painting? ›

The Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold

The most valuable painting in history must surely be the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Although it is considered priceless, we can determine some numerical value by looking at the insurance value of the painting. In 1962 the masterpiece was assessed at a value of $100 million.

Who stole The Scream in 2004? ›

Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime

Bjørn Hoen was sentenced to 7 years for planning the heist; Petter Tharaldsen was sentenced to 8 years for driving the get-away car; Petter Rosenvinge was sentenced to 4 years for supplying the car.

Why is starry night so famous? ›

Vincent van Gogh painted The Starry Night while he was a patient in a mental asylum at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. The swirling composition of the sky and the melancholic blue color palette have caused the artwork to become one of the most recognizable paintings of all time.

Who shot van Gogh? ›

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographers say he was shot by a man called René Secrétan. The troubled life and demise of Vincent van Gogh follows a well-known trajectory: the precocious genius, the art world's indifference, the onset of angst and madness, and then, tragically, his suicide at age 37.

What is a famous quote from Van Gogh? ›

9. “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done!

Did Leonardo da Vinci have a cat? ›

Among the many cats he kept, there was one whose name we don't know that he studied closely, observing in his notes the contractions of its pupils and the agility of its limbs.” She later quotes a bumper sticker-suited one-liner attributed to Leonardo: Even the smallest feline is a masterpiece of nature.

Was da Vinci a vegetarian? ›

It has been gleaned from the many available historical documents that da Vinci was a vegetarian who respected and loved animals, and that he suffered from right hemiparesis in the last 5 years of his life. A vegetarian diet has both positive and negative influences on the cerebrovascular system.

What are 5 interesting facts about da Vinci? ›

5 Surprising Facts About Leonardo Da Vinci
  • He didn't go to school. ...
  • He liked to dissect corpses. ...
  • His masterpiece was destroyed. ...
  • He wrote in reverse. ...
  • Bill Gates bought Leonardo da Vinci's notebook.

What artist lost his ear? ›

Vincent van Gogh cut off his left ear when tempers flared with Paul Gauguin, the artist with whom he had been working for a while in Arles. Van Gogh's illness revealed itself: he began to hallucinate and suffered attacks in which he lost consciousness. During one of these attacks, he used the knife.

How many paintings did van Gogh do? ›

Despite only working for 10 years – from the age of 27 up until his early demise at 37 – van Gogh was incredibly prolific. He produced more than 900 paintings and many more drawings and sketches, which works out at nearly a new artworks every 36 hours.


1. Better Know: The Starry Night | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios
(The Art Assignment)
(Lou Bee ABC)
3. Vincent van Gogh for Children: Biography for Kids - FreeSchool
(Free School)
4. What Makes The Starry Night From Vincent van Gogh So Special I Behind the Masterpiece
(Behind the Masterpiece)
5. 10 Interesting Facts about Vincent van Gogh
(Art in Bulk)
6. 5 Fun Facts about Vincent Van Gogh
(History University)
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