On 20 May 1890, Vincent van Gogh got off the train at Auvers-sur-
Oise, a village situated 35 kilometres from Paris. The artist had
recently left the mental asylum at Saint-Rémy and came to Auvers
in search of better health and tranquillity, hoping to start a new life
and a new cycle in his work as a painter. Just two months later, however,
on 27 July, in the fields near the château de Léry, Van Gogh shot
himself with a revolver, dying in agony in the early morning of 29
While Van Gogh was still a patient at Saint-Rémy his brother Theo
had been looking for a peaceful rural location close to Paris where
Vincent could lead an independent life but discreetly watched over
by a trusted friend. The painter Camille Pissarro suggested the name
of Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, a doctor, amateur artist and old friend of
some of the Impressionist painters including Pissarro himself, Cézanne
and others. Gachet lived in Auvers-sur-Oise, which was one hour by
train from the capital.
Van Gogh's Auvers period was brief but extremely productive: in
just seventy days the artist produced more than seventy paintings and
around thirty drawings. This frenzied rhythm suggests a desperate
race against time, as if the artist himself felt his days to be numbered.
Before his arrival in Auvers, Vincent had spent three days in Paris at
his brother's house where he had been able to see his own paintings,
which literally covered the walls of the apartment and were piled up
under the bed, the sofa and under the cupboards. This experience of
seeing all his work together for the first time had a profound affect
on Van Gogh and would determine his work over the following weeks,
the last of his life. His final paintings would be a sort of recapitulation
or epilogue to his entire career.
1 A Tradition of Landscape Painters
2 Thatched Cottages and New Houses
3 In the Open Fields
4 The Last Series
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