Vincent van Gogh Van Gogh early period includes all his work from 1879 through 1885. Between August 1879 and November 1885, he worked in E tten, The Hague where he received some instruction from his cousin, Anton Mauve and in Nue nen, among other places. In 1886, Vincent Van Gogh left his home in Holland and traveled to Paris. There he found a world and way of living that was like nowhere else. Paris was filled with theaters, dance halls, cafs, large boulevards for strolling, and parks filled with people at leisure. The city was alive day and night.

In Paris, Van Gogh met other young artists - Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - and, for the first time, he saw the paintings of the Impressionist artists. The word 'impressionism' for most people conjures up images of rolling French countryside, water lilies, and scenes of Parisian bourgeois society at the turn of the 19th century. The style is usually regarded as the beginning of modern art in Europe. However, the impact of impressionism was not limited to Europe. Leading artists in both Japan and Taiwan were heavily influenced by impressionism.

This link between the art of Asia and that of Europe makes the choice of Taipei as the location for an unprecedented display of 60 French impressionist paintings early this year all the more poignant. The work of the French impressionists came at a time of great social change in Europe. The Industrial Revolution gave birth to a new social class -- the so-called bourgeoisie. Members of this nouveau riche class were the owners of the new factories, who resided with their families in big city apartments. They became patrons of the new style of art, and their emphasis on closely-knit, private family life became the subject of many impressionist painters. Van Gogh and his fellow artists painted in a period known as the Belle po que, "the beautiful age".

A flamboyant and carefree period began in the gay nineties and ended with the outbreak of the First World War Tremendous wealth had been created by the Industrial Revolution and the colonization of countries around the world by the newly industrialized nations. That new wealth was on display in Paris. Elegantly dressed women and men strolled the boulevards and rode about town in magnificent carriages. Their evenings were spent at the opera, ballet and theater or at circuses and nightclubs. For the rich, much of life was a party. The spirit of the Belle po que was on display in two Paris World's Fairs, one held in 1889 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, and the other held in 1900 to usher in the new century.

Opening the fair in 1900, the French prime minister said, "The forces of nature are subdued and tamed; steam and electricity have become our obedient servants; the machine is crowned queen of the world... Science serves us ever more diligently and is conquering ignorance and poverty". His words expressed the great optimism, and the faith in science and technology, with which the 20th century began. In the 1870's, a small group of artists, called Impressionists, started an art revolution with their new style of painting. Their art celebrated modern everyday life in vibrant colors. Before the Impressionists, most European art depicted grand and dramatic scenes from history, myth, and religion.

Artists painted everything in sharp detail with brushstrokes that were hardly visible and colors that were subdued. Instead, the Impressionists depicted ordinary scenes and fleeting moments in life. They painted in bigger, visible brushstrokes and used lighter, brighter colors. They particularly wanted to show the effects of light flickering and reflecting on people and things. The Impressionists' daring new style inspired a group of young artists who came to be known as the Post-Impressionists. The Post-Impressionists were inspired by the Impressionist artists, but each of them wanted to go beyond the depiction of fleeting moments in life.

Some of them wanted to paint scenes with a sense of permanence, others wanted to make their art more scientific, and all of them wanted to create images with deeper meaning. The Impressionists usually painted people with expressions that did not show their inner thoughts and feelings. Most of the Post-Impressionists wanted to paint people in a way that revealed their character or made a comment about society. Some of the Post-Impressionist artists believed that colors and patterns, all by themselves, expressed different feelings and moods, and they used various symbols in their art to convey deeper meaning. Several Post-Impressionists wanted to give a sense of timeless permanence to their art.

They wanted to paint everyday scenes but imbue them with a classic order and solidity found in much older styles of art from ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and the Renaissance..