Van Gogh in St. Rémy

Van Gogh, Maison de Jeune (1888), Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Van Gogh, Yellow House (1888), Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

You know the story. Van Gogh was living and painting in “The Yellow House” in Arles when he became increasingly unstable, began fighting with Gaugin, and cut off part of his own ear.

It happened just two days before Christmas in 1888. Van Gogh was hospitalized and by May of 1889 he had voluntarily committed himself to St-Paul-de-Mausole, a psychiatric asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

When Van Gogh entered the asylum, he was diagnosed with a form of acute mania and epilepsy. The lead physician, Dr. Théophile Peyron, believed that only complete rest would help, but Theo Van Gogh convinced Peyron to allow his brother limited painting privileges. Van Gogh converted an adjacent cell into an art studio and began painting within the grounds of the hospital. Later, Van Gogh was considered stable enough to paint in the fields around Saint-Rémy as long as he was accompanied by a hospital aid.

It is here that Van Gogh would paint Starry Night and some of his most magnificent paintings, over 130 of them during this one-year period alone.

Van Gogh, Starry Night (1889), Museum of Modern Art, New York

Van Gogh, Starry Night (1889), Museum of Modern Art, New York

 

A trip to St-Paul-de-Mausole was on this art lover’s travlist for years. St. Rémy is a lovely little town within a short drive of Avignon in southern France. I traveled there in September, when unfortunately no lavender or iris were in bloom. If you’re lucky enough to visit from late June through early August, you might catch the gardens at just the right time.

You can take a guided tour of the grounds of St-Paul through the St-Rémy tourist office or grab a map and do it yourself. There is a lovely pedestrian path with art walk signs all the way from the tourist office to St-Paul-de-Mausole (Le Promenade Dans L’Univers de Vincent Van Gogh).

maison-sante-st-remy-provence

 

Van Gogh, St-Paul-de-Mausole (1888), Private Collection

Van Gogh, Vue de l’Asile et de la Chapelle de Saint-Rémy (1888), Private Collection. The late actress Elizabeth Taylor bought this painting in 1963 and reportedly kept it above her mantel for the rest of her life. It was auctioned off to a private buyer in 2012 for $16 million, twice its estimated value at the time.

 

St-Paul-de-Mausole, view from the back gardens in September

St-Paul-de-Mausole, view from the back gardens in September

 

St-Paul-de-Mausole view from the back gardens in September

St-Paul-de-Mausole view from the back gardens in September

 

Van Gogh, St-Paul-de-Mausole, Dr. Peyron (1888)

Van Gogh, St-Paul-de-Mausole, Dr. Peyron (1888)

 

St-Paul-de-Mausole

St-Paul-de-Mausole, view with blue shutters but without Dr. Peyron

 

St-Paul-de-Mausole, front entrance

St-Paul-de-Mausole, front entrance

The Asylum Garden at Arles, 1889 (oil on canvas), Gogh, Vincent van (1853-90) / Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur, Switzerland / The Bridgeman Art Library

Van Gogh. The Asylum Garden at Arles, 1889 (oil on canvas), Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur, Switzerland

 

The inner courtyard garden of St-Paul-de-Mausole

The inner courtyard garden of St-Paul-de-Mausole

 

Van Gogh, Irises (1888), Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Van Gogh, Irises (1888), Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

One of the art site signs at St-Pul-de-Mausole indicating the place where Van Gogh painted his Iris series

One of the art walk signs at St-Pul-de-Mausole indicating the place where Van Gogh painted his Iris series. Unfortunately, the irises weren’t in bloom at the time of my visit.

Van Gogh, Olive Orchard, June 1889 Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

Van Gogh, Olive Orchard, June 1889 Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

The olive trees surrounding St-Paul-de-Mausole

The olive trees surrounding St-Paul-de-Mausole

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One of the many lovely art walk signs in St. Remy identifying the site of a Van Gogh painting

 

 

The lovely walk up to St-Paul-de-Mausole

The lovely walk up to St-Paul-de-Mausole

Entrance to St-Paul-de-Mausole

Entrance to St-Paul-de-Mausole

Sculpture of Van Gogh at the entrance of St-Paul-de-Mausole

Sculpture of Van Gogh at the entrance of St-Paul-de-Mausole

A quiet street in nearby St-Rémy

A quiet street in sunny St-Rémy

Delicious provençal dish for lunch in St-Rémy - Provençal Tomatoes

Delicious provençal dish for lunch in St-Rémy – Provençal Tomatoes

 

Lovely little art shop in nearby St-Rémy called Charvin

Lovely little art shop in nearby St-Rémy called Charvin

IMG_3756

2 thoughts on “Van Gogh in St. Rémy

  1. So sorry I will miss you in Paria. Demeter’s Choice will be available at Shakespeare and co after June 26! I’ll be there to sign books after July 10. Had a great response here in NYc. Mary

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Thank you for sharing your trip–great photos! I visited St. Rémy in early June–early enough that it wasn’t crazy busy, late enough in the year that it was deliciously warm and the lavender was in full bloom in the Haute Provence. Such a glorious part of the world!

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