Monday, 29 September 2008


We were guests of Catherine and Paddy in Paris last month. Having traveled from London on the Eurostar train through the Channel Tunnel we were very impressed at how easy it was to navigate our way to their home on the outskirts of the city centre.

I liked this ceramic number plate at their front door. Fun and French!

They took us to the graveyard in Auvers where Vincent and Theo Van Gogh are buried. The day was slightly threatening with black clouds passing over the land. I though the artist himself would have liked the way the light kept changing.

The reason for visiting Auvers was to see the place where Van Gogh spent the last 10 weeks of his life before he died "by his own hand".

Van Gogh moved to Paris (aged 33/37 years) where his brother Theo worked as an art-dealer. He then went on to live in Provence. Due to his mental health problems he was admitted to an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. In May 1890 he headed north to this town, Auvers-sur-Oise, north of Paris. He lived - albeit for a fairly short time of ten weeks - in a tiny attic room in the inn, Auberge Ravoux. He was being treated by a famous doctor Paul-Ferdinand Gachet. Sadly, he shot himself in the stomach while working at his easel in a nearby field on July 27, 1890 and died 2 days later, aged 37 years, with his brother Theo present.

Just seven weeks before his death, van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo in Paris: "Some day or other I believe I shall find a way of having an exhibition of my own in a cafe."

This cafe has made the upstairs rooms into a museum. There are no paintings there - far too expensive for the owner to even contemplate!

In those last ten weeks of his life he produced over 100 works, including the painting called The Church at Auvers. This is the church and it is a short walk from the wheat fields and the cemetery.

The Church at Auvers
Vincent van Gogh, 1890
Oil on canvas
74 × 94 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

For the record: Paddy and Iain and Catherine (hidden) - a photo badly in need of a bit of Van Gogh colour!

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