Van Gogh, the short life of a gifted artist
Van Gogh is one of the most famous painters of the post-Impressionist period.
He produced more than 2000 paintings and drawings in just over 10 years, most of them during the last 2 years of his life, pushing the limits of his creativity to mental exhaustion.
His style and sense of color changed rapidly over the years, especially when he went to Arles, 2 years before his death.
His mental health rapidly declined; the psychotic episodes he went through led him to voluntarily admit himself in St. Paul de Mausole Asylum in St. Remy de Provence on May 8, 1889.
He stayed there until May 1890, then discharged himself to settle in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris.
However, still deeply depressed and delusional, he shot himself in the chest with a revolver on 27 July 1890.
Fortunately, a rib deflected the bullet and avoided any mortal damage to internal organs, so Van Gogh was able to seek medical care.
His beloved brother, Theo, rushed to his bedside, but Van Gogh died two days later from an infection incurred by the gunshot wound; he was 37.
However, it would appear that the circumstances of his ‘suicide’ were quite suspicious.
Not only was the gun never found, but the place where the shooting took place is not really known!
Van Gogh in Saint-Paul Asylum
The psychiatric hospital was founded during the 19th century in an ancient Augustine Monastery nestled among wheat fields, vineyards and olive groves.
Saint-Paul de Mausole is still a mental health institution.
Several reproductions of Van Gogh’s paintings are placed throughout the grounds to show where he painted each scene.
Van Gogh lived in two small connected rooms; one was his bedroom, the second his studio.
His room is as it then was; simply furnished with a bed, a small writing desk, a trunk and a straight-backed chair.
During his voluntary stay, he still produced a considerable number of paintings.
However, strictly confined to the asylum’s grounds, he painted what he saw from the barred window of his bedroom.
He painted the building, the garden with its flowers (the famous Irises), trees and insects and the wheat field he could see from his bedroom window, but also other residents and the interior of his room.
The few times he was able to leave the asylum was an opportunity to paint the surrounding landscapes.
However, most of the work he produced while at Saint-Paul reflect the loneliness and the feeling of confinement he felt.
Sadly, Van Gogh didn’t enjoy notoriety when he was alive, as art experts of the time considered him mad and untalented!
Department of Bouches-du-Rhône – St-Remy de Provence
Coordinates St Paul de Mausole: Lat 43.777923 – Long 4.834017