Van Gogh, Auvers-sur-Oise


Vincent Van Gogh arrived at Auvers-sur-Oise in May 1890. Nearly 130 years ago. Auvers is a small town, or a large village North of Paris. Long time friends of ours live 10 kms away. Our old house in Normandy was 20-25 kms away perhaps. Monet’s Giverny lies 30-40 kms to the West. One week-end we drove to Auvers.                            OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

L’Auberge Ravoux, or Ravoux’s Inn is where Van Gogh lived the last three months of his life. His room was under the roof, to the right, where a small “lucarne”, a dormer, can be seen. He paid 1 Franc rent a day. During his brief stay in Auvers, Van Gogh painted close to 70 paintings. The house is typical of the hundreds or thousands of small villages in that “march” of Normandy, called “Le Vexin Normand.” Thick stone walls, flat brown tiles.


“Painter Vincent Van Gogh lived in this house and died on July 29th 1890.”


In 1890, this is how the Auberge Ravoux looked. Tables and chairs outside. An old French custom of eating and drinking on the “terrasse”. The men on the right wear the typical attire of the working class of that time. A cap and heavy duty clothes. Drinking red wine by the looks of it. The window curtains are still there, or a copy. The tree on the left is gone.


Van Gogh’s famous room with the yellow chair. (Atelier des lumières, Paris, July 2019). My grandfather had an almost identical bed, in walnut wood. As I researched the Auberge Ravoux, the mention of the dormer puzzled me. Now I know why. The room Van Gogh painted had a window, not a dormer, and was not under the roof… It is becoming hard to establish facts… Dormer or window?


Portrait of Adeline Ravoux, Museum of art, Cleveland. The village is strewn with dozens of copies of Van Gogh’s paintings. Good. I am not planning to go to Cleveland any time soon. Vincent wrote, probably to his brother Theo:

“This week, I did a portrait of a young girl, sixteen or so. The daughter of the people where I stay…”


A typical house of the region. At least two centuries old. Not unlike the one we had a few miles away. Van Gogh probably walked past it every day.


The stairs at Auvers. Art museum, Saint-Louis, Missouri.


The stairs are still there. The exact same colours, the foliage, the trees can be seen all the way across to England. Same species. The colours of my summers.


No idea what that plant is. Auvers-sur-Oise. 2012.


Iris, Atelier des lumières. Those were painted in the South, in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.


Atelier des lumières. To the right, Doctor Gachet. Paul Gachet, 1828-1909, was an MD. He lived in Auvers where he invited Van Gogh to restore his failing mental health. I only recently discovered that beyond his friendship with Vincent and way beyond the limits of a small village in Normandy, Dr Gachet was a patron of the arts. An art collector, he knew Cézanne and Pissaro.


The church at Auvers. Atelier des lumières. One of his most well-known paintings.


The church at Auvers. Again, there are hundreds of such churches in the region. This one dates back to the 11th century. There are remnants of Romanesque architecture, as you can see in the round roof of the small turret to the right. The church in our village dated back to the 14th century. People have lived there since Roman times at least. Generation after generation. Sadly the buildings are in ill repair. An outside wall of the church at Auvers just fell down last week. A small wall. 600,000 Euros repair. A trifle. A Van Gogh today fetches prices in the 150 million Dollar range…


Detail of one of the walls of the church. The bull and the lion. Symbols for the Evangelists, Luke and Mark.


The man and the eagle. Matthew and John.


Now, from the church we take a path to the right, to the edge of the village. Where the wheat fields stretch. Despite pesticides, one can still see a few poppies on the side of the fields.


The cemetery at Auvers. Those crosses are still scattered all over the countryside.


Here rest Vincent and Theo van Gogh. Theo was Vincent’s little brother. He became an art merchant, first in Holland, then in Belgium, and finally in Paris. In 1886 he invited Vincent to live with him in Montmartre. Theo supported his brother, sent him the paint, canvas and brushes he needed. And money. The love between the two brothers is well documented in the hundreds of letters of their correspondence. It seems to me they even wrote in French at times.

Vincent died in July 1890. The circumstances of his death are both well-known and re-visited by “modern” historians. Theo died 6 months later. Kikipedia says he died of syphilis-induced dementia. Maybe. I always heard he’d died of sorrow. He was buried in Utrecht. In 1914, his widow Johanna sent his remains to Auvers, to be buried alongside his brother.


Thank you to both brothers for the colours you left us.




53 thoughts on “Van Gogh, Auvers-sur-Oise

  1. The van Gogh-like portrait on the brick wall is fantastic, as is the reproduction of the church painting. Nice wander through such an amazing creative life. Merci! Or should I say, Dank U!

  2. This makes no sense, but it never crossed my mind that you could compare any of his paintings to existing landscapes and buildings. Seeing what you’ve done here is an eye opener. Thank you.

    • My pleasure Ellen. 🙂 I actually do that often. Art is representation. A cubist portrait of Dora Maar by Picasso is a representation of Dora Maar. I always think that whatever the painting, it comes straight from the artist’s brain. A small window inside their head… Thanks for visiting. Hope all is well with you?

      • All’s well thanks. We’re just sitting around waiting for the next storm. Funny you should mention Dora Maar, though, because we just saw a show of her work last week. My partner’s a photographer, so she was interested. I’ll acknowledge that Maar was good but with the exception of some late paintings her work bored the shit out of me. The paintings, though, were beautiful.

      • Her photo work you mean? Possibly. Though the expo we saw in Paris last summer was quite a revelation. In particular how Picasso destroyed her, her personal talent and way of expressing herself, to enslave her more. I have posted some of her stuff. I may do a full post next year… Cheers.

  3. Pingback: Van Gogh, Auvers-sur-Oise — Equinoxio | Rethinking Life

    • Thanks to you Coeur de Feu. It was a poignant few hours trip. The village is rather small, but pretty. And one can’t help thinking of Vincent’s immense talent and yet tragic life.

  4. So many beautiful painting, I especially love the self- portrait with grey felt hat and the unique technique he applied of using the short stripes of paint! Thanks for yet another great post and have a lovely festive season 😊 Aiva

  5. You know I love your blog –
    And today’s post is one example of why.
    Thanks for letting us stroll with your through your lens so get more into the art and life of Vincent Van Gogh.
    Seeing the building he likely walked by was cool and just seeing the real life setting for some of his works was interesting
    — I also agree that sorrow was the root cause of Theo’s passing so close to Vincent’s death.
    And when I studied more about grief and the toll it takes on the body – well
    Because it can suppress the immune system so much – any underlying conditions get stronger or the person is vulnerable to other ailments – so it likely was many things that took Theo out – all
    Connected to grief at the base –
    I have an old art book on my Shelf – think it is from 1956 – with a sedition on Vincent – and this book is waiting for me
    To Explore and it might have some extra details that are not mainstream – keep you posted if I find anything unusual – just have not had the time to dig in.

    • You’re only too kind. Glad to take you on a stroll or the other. I personally think it is nice to share those experiences. As do others of places I haven’t been…
      And yes, grief can tear at the body…
      a 1956 art book…? Yummy. Let us know what you find.
      Take care.

      • I almost gave the book away last summer (I have so many used books Come my way) and kept it when I saw the section in Van Gogh!
        Keep you posted!

        And years ago I saw a well done documentary on Theo’s widow and they made the point that had it not been for her strategic holding on and releasing of Vincent’s paintings – most could have been destroyed or sold for pennies – but in her grief and heavy guilt (they had lessened the stipend to Vincent and part of it was her fault because she was not as into supporting Vincent as Theo was) well
        That guilt and grief fueled her to make his work become treasured (something like that)
        Oh and my fav photo today was seeing the actual stairs- in real
        Life they had those curves – thought it was more of Van gogh’s energy – but that time it was more realistic

      • Good that you kept it… 🙂
        I’d heard some of that story about Johanna. Both the guilt and “managing” the paintings. Theo was, after all an art merchant…
        Those stairs are neat, right? It was a warm feeling to climb them…
        I also liked comparing the painting of the church with the actual building. His energy shows in the way the roof is painted. Not straight lines. Curves…
        Take care

  6. Tragedy and art so often seem to coexist with such exquisite beauty. “Atelier des lumières” –love the sound of that. I think I’ll make one for myself. 🙂

  7. Great post. I think it is really neat that you were able to visit some of his locations both where he stayed and the topics he painted. It really brings things to life. it reminds me of how much I enjoyed Monet and his Giverny.

    • Auvers is more a symbol than anything else. No art left except for the copies placed by city hall. I drew the art form the atelier de lumiere. But the place is charged with emotion. As is Giverny. 😊

  8. Je voulais aller aux Carrières de Lumière aux Baux de Provence pour voir la création 2019 spécial Van Gogh. Malheureusement j’ai manqué de temps – ou d’organisation?

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