Five fascinating facts that will change the way you look at "The Starry Night"

The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh is one of the most famous paintings in the world. Few would guess the history behind it. Check out these five facts and see if you ever look at the painting the same way again!

1. The painting depicts the view from an asylum

After mutilating his own ear and experiencing a mental breakdown in the winter of 1888, van Gogh checked himself in to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Southern France. While in the asylum he painted a series of paintings depicting the view outside of his barred window.

Of the series, The Starry Night is the only painting that depicts nighttime.

The view of the Cypress tree painted during the day.

A painting by van Gogh of his asylum window. He choose not to depict the bars in the window for The Starry Night.

2. The Painting was never sold

The Starry Night was never sold. In his lifetime van Gogh would produce over 900 paintings. The Red Vineyards near Arles was the only one of his works confirmed to be sold. The popularity that he gained was only achieved in death.


The Red Vineyards near Arles was sold for the modern day equivilent and $1,000 to Anna Boch, an impressionist painter.

3. The Brightest Star in the painting is Venus

Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, "This morning I saw the countryside from my window a long time before sunrise with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big." Researchers have determined that Venus was visible a dawn during that time period and was at its brightest. There are 11 stars depicted in the painting and astronomers have been able to map the pattern to a recreation of the sky in Southern France during spring of 1889.

The star to the right of the Cypress tree is actually the planet Venus.

4. The Village is from Van Gogh's Imagination

In many cases van Gogh meticulously recreated what he saw in nature. However, the village depicted in The Starry Night is not based on reality. It could not be seen from his window. Many of the structures, such as the church, resemble architecture from the Netherlands rather than Southern France.

Last known self portrait of van Gogh.

5. Van Gogh considered The Painting a failure

In regards to the series of paintings he did while in the asylum Van Gogh wrote to his brother, "All in all the only things I consider a little good in it are the Wheatfield, the Mountain, the Orchard, the Olive trees with the blue hills and the Portrait and the Entrance to the quarry, and the rest says nothing to me."

When he shipped the paintings to his brother he left The Starry Night behind to save on postage.

Entrance to a Quarry was one of the paintings that van Gogh favored in the series.

The Olive Trees was another painting from the series favored by van Gogh.

The Starry Night

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