Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise
Auvers-sur-Oise was once a picturesque village on the banks of the river Oise where Van Gogh spent the last 70 days of his life and painted 78 canvases.
Auvers is also the place where this prodigy artist died on July 29, 1890 and was buried in the municipal cemetery.
Van Gogh’s mental health was still fragile when he arrived in Auvers, after the year he voluntarily spent in the asylum of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
From Saint-Rémy he went to Paris where he spent 2 days with his brother Theo and his family.
Aware of his declining mental health, he asked Theo to find him a peaceful place where he could continue painting.
Theo sent him to Auvers-sur-Oise where his friend, Dr Gachet, a specialist in mental illnesses and a great lover of art, agreed to take care of Vincent.
Van Gogh arrived in Auvers on May 20, 1890, and checked in the inn Auberge Ravoux.
He painted 78 canvases during his 70-day stay in Auvers!
Tragically, on July 27 he shot himself in the abdomen while on one of his country strolls.
Theo caught the first train to Auvers to stay at Vincent’s bedside, who died two days later!
The spiritual presence of Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise
As you stroll through Auvers and its surrounding countryside, you’ll recognize the many landscapes he painted.
His daily escapades through cultivated fields, orchards and meadows, along country paths or the banks of the Oise, or simply along the village lanes inspired him some of his most celebrated paintings.
Impossible to name them all, but among them you will recognize the Cornfield with crows, the Portrait of Dr Gauchet, the Church of Auvers with its famous purple sky, or the Town-hall of Auvers whose original is in Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
A panel with the reproduction of Van Gogh’s original canvas is installed on site, in front of these various subjects.
A statue by Zadkine, near Auvers-sur-Oise Tourist Office, represents him with his easel and painter’s equipment over his shoulder, setting off for one of his excursions.
Van Gogh seems to be watching over Auvers and its countryside forever!
Auberge Ravoux – La Maison de Van Gogh
You’ll set foot into Van Gogh’s last retreat at the Auberge Ravoux.
You can visit the modest attic room, only lit by a small skylight, where he died with Teo by his side.
It has remained intact since his death, as according to tradition a room where a suicide took place can’t be let out!
The room is not furnished, except for a chair.
The inn and the restaurant were renovated in 1986 while retaining their authenticity and the spirit of the 1890s.
You’ll find it opposite the town-hall.
Van Gogh’s grave in Auvers cemetery
Van Gogh was buried in the small municipal cemetery.
His artist friends attended his funeral, but also many villagers who had discovered in the unstable artist a man of great heart.
His brother Theo died 6 months later in the Netherlands.
In 1914, his wife had his remains transferred to Auvers so that he could be re-buried next to Vincent.
Ivy, from the garden of Dr Gauchet, cover their adjoining and understated graves.
Auvers-sur-Oise and the Impressionist painters
Many landscape painters, mostly Impressionists, discovered Auvers during the 19th century attracted by the tranquility, the landscapes, the light and the bucolic atmosphere of this picturesque village on the banks of the Oise.
The railway line was inaugurated in 1846 to connect the Gare du Nord to Lille (Pas de Calais); it put Auvers an hour from the capital and attracted Parisians in search of bucolic pleasures and boating.
In 1860, the painter Charles-Francois Daubigny anchored his barge-workshop, Le Botin, on the river bank in Auvers.
This pioneer of Impressionism founded an artistic club which attracted Corot, Daumier, Berthe Morisot, Cézanne, Pissaro and Monet.
All fell under the spell of the place and produced some of their most acclaimed paintings.
The house he later bought was turned into a museum dedicated to the painter and his artist friends.
La Maison d’Aubigny – La Maison des Illustres was listed Historical Monument in 2014
La Maison du Dr Gauchet and its garden, where the physician received Pissaro, Guillaumin and Cézanne, are also open to the public.
A great lover of art and printmaking, he was not only Van Gogh’s physician, whom he unfortunately could not save from death, but he was also a close friend of his.
Van Gogh often visited his friend and made three famous portraits of him.
The house was listed Historic Monument in 1991.
Auvers retained its appeal to 20th century artists.
Rousseau, Daboval, Otto Freundlich but also the Surrealist painter Corneille, whose tomb is located not far from Van Gogh’s, settled there.
Emile Boggio, another Impressionist arrived in Auvers in 1910 and founded Les Ateliers Boggio which are still active thanks to his great-grand-nephew, Xavier.
It’s hard to leave Auvers without mentioning its castle built in the 17th century by an Italian financier attached to the court of Queen Marie de Medicis.
It was remodeled in French Renaissance style a few decades later, then once more in the late 18th century.
The General Council of Val-d’Oise acquired it in 1987.
The castle offers permanent and temporary exhibitions on Impressionism, from its origins to the present day.
Auvers-sur-Oise hasn’t changed too much and you’ll still recognize the sites immortalized on the canvases of the painters.
Most new developments were carried out on its outskirts, but Auvers isn’t a village anymore, but a small town.
How to get to Auvers-sur-Oise from Paris?
Department of Oise
Coordinates: Lat 49.070545 – Long 2.171393
By car: 34kms – about 50mn – A1 – A86 and A115 – Exit onto D928 at Sognolles towards Auvers
By train – Transilien about 1h10 Gare du Nord-Auvers station with 1 connection and several stops