Today marks the birthday of Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch post-Impressionist who brought the world unforgettable visions of sunflowers and starry nights. Born on this day 161 years ago, the painter ranks among the most recognizable (not to mention expensive) artists to have ever existed, filling the halls of major museums from the Louvre to the Met to the Rijksmuseum.
History speculates with intense curiosity on what van Gogh was like during his life, at times alleging he cut his ear off in a fit of unrequited love (a story heavily contested by some scholars) and other times surmising the great artistic talent suffered from color blindness. With a century and a half to wonder who the man beneath the straw hat is, and pore over his personal letters, we’ve really only uncovered a caricature of what Vincent was probably like. This much we know — he was self-taught, enraptured by the innovation of neo-Impressionists, supported and pushed to creative limits by his brother and eventually alienated by his own mental turmoil.
In honor of yet another anniversary of Vincent van Gogh’s birth, we let our own curiosity run wild while perusing the many self-portraits the tortured artist produced. From dark color palettes rendered in chaotic brushstrokes to luminescent imaginings captured in his signature saturated hues, the collection of faces reveal — at the very least — how the painter viewed himself. Scroll through the selection below and let us know how you’re celebrating the art holiday in the comments.