Friday, September 11, 2015

The Table. . . . . . . .

It was 1890. Just 20 miles from Paris, in the peaceful village of Auvers-sur-Oise, 
a slight man, aged 37, worked at his easel. 
Vincent Van Gogh had moved from Provence to the Auberge Ravoux, now named 
Maison de Van Gogh, and In 70 days he created 70 paintings. 
He painted plein air each day, eating his meals at the 'artists' table' in the rear
of the dining room each evening.
During the night of July 29, 1890, Vincent died in his room of a gunshot wound,
 self-inflicted two days earlier in the wheat field where he was painting.
 An amazing artist but sadly disturbed soul was gone.
His body was moved behind the inn's dining room on the ground floor to the 
'artists' room' - the room where he painted and stacked his canvases during those 70 days.
Masses of yellow flowers were brought in, dahlias and sunflowers, and many of his 
canvases were nailed to the walls surrounding his coffin.
The auberge is typical of small French village restaurants where simple, 
earthy meals are served. People arrive to dine in what remains similar to the 
turn-of-the-20th-century café scene.

Recently I made a few changes to my dining room table. This included rolling 
out the black paper purchased in Spring. It came with chalk so I'm planning 
how I should decorate it for Autumn. Not being an artist, I haven't drawn much 
so far - however I'm hoping to add vegetables, pumpkins, flowers, birds - perhaps 
some quotations for the season.
I purchased this beautiful book, 
Van Gogh's Table at the Auberge Ravoux 
several years ago and come back to read it often. It shares beautiful art,
 some classic French country recipes from the inn, and the story of Vincent Van Gogh's
 sad life and the isolation he experienced due to mental illness.

I will be in France again soon and this time I plan to visit Auvers-sur-Oise
and see Vincent's room in the auberge. Visitors are permitted to climb the narrow 
stairs to room No. 5 - where 125 years ago the world lost an amazing artist.
I'm practicing simple little illustrations on oddments of paper first. . . . . . . . . . . If you stop 
by over the weekend you'll be welcome to add your personal art to my 'table cloth'.


  1. Lovely photos and information. Everything you do is so elegant and tasteful. Lovely table, wish I could stop by and draw on your "tablecloth".

    1. Oh how I would love to have you stop by - a nice stick of white chalk is awaiting you JoAnn!
      Mary -

  2. Dear Mary - I like the way you have married many threads here and made such an interesting post. I wrote briefly about Munch today who also seems to me to share many similar preoccupations of emotional suffering with his near contemporary Vincent van Gogh.

    1. Rosemary - I loved your post today. Right now September seems so beautiful in your part of our lovely England - thanks for the photos.
      Mary -

  3. Oh, you wouldn't want me drawing on your tablecloth, that's for sure. I can barely draw a stick figure!

    1. Mel, stick figures are a great idea! Anything goes when we amateur artists start drawing and doodling! The roll of black paper is thick and there's plenty left over.
      Mary -

  4. What a lovely, creative post. Van Gogh's Table looks like a wonderful book. Over the summer I read a novel "The Last Van Gogh" that is based on his time in Auvers-sur-Oise and weaves a story about a possible love affair between VVG and the subject of several of his paintings there.
    There's a family story that my mother's family is related to Vincent Van Gogh through his mother's side. I've never been able to verify it, but my children and I joke about "Uncle Vince" and love his works.
    Your chalkboard table cover is such a great idea. What fun you and your guests can have doodling away.

    1. Thank you Lorrie. When I step inside the Auberge Ravoux I hope to feel the spirit of your 'Uncle Vince' and will think of you! His story is so sad and, like many of the old painters who were never recognized in their lifetime, several seemingly led such tortured lives which appeared to manifest into mental illness, and often early death.

      I love the idea of drawing/writing on the table - I must get moving on adding my amateur doodles to the paper with my chalk. Hunting down pumpkins in the country tomorrow - need to get them early as they may be all sold by the time I return to NC in mid-October!

      Mary -

  5. I love the idea of drawing on your black runner!

  6. Gorgeous post Mary....and what a lovely idea to do some 'mark making' on the table! Personal marks, rubbings, text, erasures....just my cup of tea! Maybe some words from Vincent's letters to his brother, Theo, could be lovely too.

    Yes, I've always thought how sad it was for Vincent....if he had lived today he would have been suitably treated for his illness and who knows what he would have created. But what he did create in his short lifetime was MINDBLOWING.

    I've visited the Van Gogh Musée in Amsterdam a couple of times and my oh my.....his works are wondrous Mary. When you see them in the flesh you come to realise what an innovator he was....for subject matter, colour, composition etc etc ! So next time in Amsterdam Mary...go there, you'd love it. And just up the road a bit is Rembrandt House....another of my favourites!

    Loving your blog Mary!



  7. Mary, I have that book as well. It's a favorite here too! Have you been to Auberge Ravoux? We visited many years ago. It's indeed a special spot and interesting to walk the path of Van Gogh in the quaint village of Auvers-sur-Oise. It's an easy drive from Paris. I know you will find it charming. Happy Travels!

  8. I didn't know the history of Van Gogh's life. It is so hard to understand someone getting to the point of no longer wanting to live life. Creating so much just to end it all. I came across a quote the other day "Sometimes I'm struck by the thought 'I can't believe I exist.' It is a magical and extraordinary thing to exist." I wish I could come draw on your table. :) Have a great day. Tammy

  9. Hello dear Mary
    Maybe I am going gaga!?!? I was sure I left a comment on this post last night, but I don't see it here!
    I was in bed and did it from my ipad which doesn't always let me make changes to my comment - I wonder if anyone else has this problem.

    Anyway enough of that...
    I loved this post, it is sad that so many of these wonderful artists and writers were not recognised in their lifetime.
    What a gorgeous book - one I would love to add to my collection. In fact I popped in to my local book this afternoon but I couldn't find it, I didn't have time to wait in the queque to ask the question.
    I will add Auvers-sur-Oise to my list for our next visit.

    My granddaughters would waste no time drawing and writing you a message on the chalk board paper! What a super idea.

    Much love
    Shane x

  10. Your table is so lovely Mary. I need to order that Van Gogh book. We visited the Asylum in St. Remy where he spent some time. How wonderful that you will get to visit Auvers-Sur-Oise on your upcoming trip. I will be thinking of you in France while we are in Italy. Safe travels. Looking forward to hearing all about it and viewing your astounding photos.

  11. What a fun idea to put black paper on your table for drawing. If I lived nearby, I'd stop by and add a little something to it:)I read a delightful novel years ago Joanna by Claire Cooperstein. It was written in diary form and it was about the correspondence between Van Gogh and his sister in law Joanna. It was a good read!


I would enjoy reading your comment - thanks so much for stopping by.

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