Van Gogh's Provence

Attracted by the Provençal light, Van Gogh decided to leave Paris and move to Arles. In a little over a year, he created more than 300 works, amongst which are some of his most renowned.
By Elodie Liénard

Being passionate about bold colors, Vincent Van Gogh decided to live in a region where he would be inspired by the brilliance of the sun. The Dutch painter arrived in Arles on February 20th, 1888. He set himself up in a restaurant before renting a small house, called The Yellow Home, which he painted on numerous occasions. In Arles, it was almost as if his talent was immediately on display. The painter was prolific, and he created no less than 300 works in less than 15 months, writing one of the most important chapters of art history. Van Gogh traversed the region on foot, selecting landscapes bathed in light, scenes of country life and personalities in his entourage to paint. Not knowing anyone in the region, he found it difficult to find models. But Van Gogh became fond of representing local flora, fields of sunflowers, and harvests. His style – full of movement with brushstrokes, dots and swirls – seems to represent the inner fury that gripped him. In Arles, Van Gogh totally blossomed in his art, but he found no relief from his psychological instability. In December 1888, after a violent dispute with Gauguin – who came to work in Provence with him - Vincent cut off his ear and offered it to a prostitute. It was following this episode, which he himself called a “catastrophe,” that the painter created his Self Portrait With Bandaged Ear. But new crises kept happening, and Van Gogh decided to enter the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum near Saint-Remy-de-Provence. He spent a year there, and despite his fragile state of health, he produced some of his most magnificent paintings, including Irises. Van Gogh left the region in May 1890 before going to Auvers-sur-Oise, where he ended his life a few months later. In Arles, an entire sightseeing circuit allows you to visit the exact places where Van Gogh created his most well-known canvases: Place du Forum (The Evening Café), the Trinquetaille bridge (The Trinquetaille Bridge), the banks of the Rhône (Starry Night), the Place Lamartine (The Yellow House), the rue Mireille (The Old Windmill), the garden of the Boulevard des Lices (Public Garden), the Espace Van Gogh (The Hospital Garden), etc. A flyer and a map are available in the Tourist Office.

Fondation Van Gogh
17, rue des Suisses
13200 Arles
T 04 90 49 94 04

Van Gogh's room in Arles
Van Gogh's room in Arles
Photography José Nicolas

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