The Starry Night by Van Gogh: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

One of the most famous paintings by Vincent Van Gogh is '~'The Starry Night.'~' In this lesson, learn about the creative artist behind this painting, and discover the inspiration and techniques Van Gogh used to create it.

Who Was Van Gogh?

When you think of famous painters, which ones come to mind? Michelangelo, or Claude Monet? How about Vincent Van Gogh? Van Gogh was the creator of one of the most recognized paintings of all time, ''The Starry Night.''

Vincent was born in the Netherlands in 1853. He left school when he was a teenager and became a clerk for an art dealer who sold paintings to people around the world. After he was transferred to the dealer's London office, Vincent wrote letters to his brother Theo and often included illustrations in them.

A portrait of Vincent Van Gogh
Van Gogh

Vincent wanted to get more serious about his art, so he moved to Paris and took art lessons. He learned many new techniques and styles. However, as he got older he suffered from episodes of frustration. In fact, he got so frustrated over an argument with a fellow artist that he cut off his ear! Sadly, this event resulted in him being placed in an asylum, or a hospital, in Southern France because he suffered from anxiety and mental stress.

How Did He Compose ''The Starry Night''?

Ironically, if Vincent had never gone to the asylum, he might never have created one of his most famous works. In 1889, he painted ''The Starry Night.'' This painting combined the nighttime view from his hospital room with items from his home, the Netherlands. The end result was a mix of reality and Van Gogh's memory and imagination.

This famous painting by Van Gogh reflects memories from his home in the Netherlands, including the village and church towers.
Van Gogh

What did Van Gogh include in this famous painting? Quite a bit! Beneath the swirling sky, stars, and moon is a small village. Look closely and you can see the tall spires, or steeples, of churches that were most likely similar to the ones in his Netherlands homeland. That large tree in the front left of the painting is called a cypress.

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