Monday, October 26, 2015

. . . . in the footsteps of Van Gogh

You may recall how excited I was knowing I would visit the village of
 Auvers-sur-Oise and the Auberge Ravoux, Vincent van Gogh's last 'home' for
 three months prior to his death. I did a brief post earlier whilst still in France,
 and am following up today with a few more photos and more
 of the sad story of an amazing artist who died far too early.

Bob, outside the inn on a beautiful early October morning. 
I so wish we could have eaten lunch there that day - however the 
guided tour was structured so that we could take in other
 important sites pertinent to Van Gogh's stay in this charming village.

Later in the afternoon we were heading to Versailles, then our ship
 was returning to Paris in the evening. . . . .an extremely busy day.

Note how the facade of the Auberge Ravoux still appears exactly as it did
 in the year Van Gogh lived there - only the trees on the sidewalk seem
 to be missing.

I climbed the small wooden staircase to where, in the attic of the auberge,
 a single skylight lets a few rays of sunshine into room No. 5 where Vincent
 lived and died a couple of days later from his injury.
 Out of sheer superstition, this garret, referred to as the "suicide room",
 has never been rented out again since 1890.
In this well-preserved site, this tiny empty room, one can relate
 to the painter's lifestyle during those last months.

I would truly love to return here, perhaps on a Spring afternoon for luncheon, or
 in the cool of an Autumn evening for a French dinner with delicious vegetables
 from the market next door, and a full-bodied French red wine.
 Dining at the Auberge Ravoux, at a wooden table tucked behind the embroidered
 curtains, where Vincent often had his supper, paying not with money which
 he never had, but with yet another painting he had done perhaps that same day.
 Yes, a return visit is now near the top of my wish list.

I was able to purchase the red and white kitchen towel during this recent visit - shown
 here with my much-loved old copy of the cookbook/story/history of the Auberge Ravoux.

Following the visit to the inn, we strolled through the many alleyways of the village, 
viewing flower-filled gardens behind old stone walls and iron gates, and the
 Auvers village church made famous in Van Gogh's painting.

The local Mairie (town hall) is depicted in a lovely Van Gogh painting,
 La Mairie d'Auvers - the building, as in most French villages, not changing at all
 over the years.

Later we walked up gentle sloping lanes to the fields above the village.
It was here that Vincent was able to continue painting plein air - his brother Theo
assisting financially so he could purchase the necessary artist's supplies he required. 

A copy of the painting displayed above is at the entrance to the wheat field where
 Vincent was shot in the abdomen. There are now conflicting reports as to whether it was
 an accidental shooting by local boys rather than suicide, though most people believe
 it was the latter due to his depressive state of mind over many years, and his final
 words on his deathbed. As we walked through the field, the crows were there
 as in the painting, flying off as we passed. 
Vincent painted many views of the fields around Auvers that July prior to his death,
 telling Theo. . . . . . 
"Auvers is really gravely beautiful. it's the heart of the countryside, distinctive and picturesque" - May 21, 1890.

Further along we came to the cemetery. . . . . . . .  

. . . . . . .where the painting La Pluie - actually titled Landscape at Auvers in the Rain -
was displayed near the entrance gate.

 A typical old French grave decorated with ceramic flowers.

Vincent's brother Theo is buried next to him in the Auvers cemetery - he died
 the following year, aged 33, just six months after Vincent who was 37.  
The headstones are very plain compared to many in this cemetery - covered
 in ivy and wildflowers, requiring some pruning, but really quite beautiful 
in their simplicity.

Postcards of Van Gogh paintings, including one of several self portraits,
 purchased in Auvers-sur-Oise market.

My visit here will always be recalled as time well spent in a very special part
 of the French countryside, not far from Paris, colorful, historic and, as always,
 full of beauty.

Thanks so much for all the kind birthday wishes - I really appreciate them.
this morning I decided to work on this post - doing something 
I enjoy and sharing another story from the recent trip.
After all it's my BIRTHDAY and I can do what I want, right?


  1. Hope you are having a wonderful Birthday!! I loved seeing your pictures in this post.

  2. Oh Mary, this is a wonderful post. I've always been partial to VVG and his art and story. How I enjoyed seeing the places where he spent so much time in his last months. I've not heard about the possibility of an accidental shooting and will be looking that up. The gravestone is simple and yet it made me catch my breath a little.
    Happy Birthday!

  3. Most definitely do what you want on your birthday and any other day. After all you are retired, smiling! How wonderful to surround yourself with Van Gogh for the day and just feel the surroundings he loved and painted.

  4. Mary, your post is full of wonderful photos and information. It has been years since I visited
    Auvers-Sur-Oise. It is such a charming spot, filled with history and emotion. Thank you for this excellent post. I, too, have the cookbook and treasure it. How nice that you found the kitchen towel.

  5. I love this post Mary as Vincent is one of my favorite painters. That must be so memorable and such a thrill being there. And, happiest day to you.

  6. Dear Mary, Love this post. You have a way of telling the story with your beautiful photographs. Will you share a few photographs with us depicting your canal cruises. Have always wanted to have that adventure.

  7. Will have to put Vincent Van Gogh and Auvers on my wish list. I think the ceramic flowers one finds on the gravestones in France are very beautiful. Too bad our cemeteries in the States are not designed to make that an option. Great post!

  8. I had a similar experience about Van Gogh in St.Remy-de-Provence, places portraied in his paintings scattered all over the village...


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