Auvers-sur-Oise is the little village where Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) spent the last days of his life. Although he only stayed for 70 days (20 May to 29 July 1890) he painted 78 pictures during this time! Many other famous artists lived here, but to me Van Gogh seems the most fascinating character of them all. This picturesque unspoilt village is only half an hour’s drive from Paris, one and a half hour by train and metro. The village is 7 kilometers long and seems like an open air museum. People come from all over the world for the thrill of being in the very spots where many famous paintings originated. Charles Francois Daubigny, Camille Pissarro, Doctor Gachet and Paul Cézanne were among the famous artists that worked here at the same time as Vincent.
Signposts have been put up with reproductions of some of the paintings, on the spots that had been painted.
The portrait of Adeline Ravoux, 13 year old daughter of the innkeepers, really touched me. Adeline is quoted as follows “During the sitting, Vincent did not speak to me. He smoked his pipe all the time. (…) I must admit that I was only moderately satisfied with my portrait, it was a disappointment even. It was only much later that I realized, looking at reproductions, that he had been able to discern in the young girl the woman that I was to become.” How powerful is that?
Walking alongside the bare fields, where his beloved sunflowers grew, you have a deep sense of the melancholy and utter sadness he felt. It seems so tragic that he felt that way, surrounded by incredible beauty, capturing it on canvas and yet not letting it into his heart.
Of the corn fields he said “They are immense expanses of grain under clouded skies, and I have not hesitated to try to express melancholy and extreme loneliness” (Letter 649 to his brother Theo, July 1890)
A most memorable day this has been.