This past weekend two friends and I took a day trip to Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh spent the end of his life. Signs around town drew attention to the impressive fact that he painted more than 70 works in less than 70 days.
Right near the train station is the house where he lived.I was blown away to stand in front of the Notre Dame d’Auvers, a church he depicted in a painting I love. I had seen the original work at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and here was the actual structure rising up before us. We took a self-guided tour of the house that belonged to Doctor Gachet, who welcomed Van Gogh when he was looking for peace. The artist’s famed portrait of the doctor hangs at the Orsay.
Van Gogh-inspired art abounded in the town. This building next to the train station paid homage to his most well-known masterpieces.The encompassing splashes of color and cheer in this underground passageway connecting the two train platforms entertained us for a while. When we saw this text giving credit to François Laval for the paintings, my friend said, “I wonder why we he couldn’t finish it.”I looked at her, confused, looked back at the sign, and burst out laughing.
The sign says, “Fresque réalisée par François Laval » (“Fresco created by François Laval”).
However, she had read it as, « Presque réalisée par François Laval » (“Almost completed by François Laval”).
We enjoyed walking around the quiet town and appreciating the pretty little houses. The garden behind the Chateau d’Auvers was pleasant with hardly any tourists around. As a fan of Van Gogh, I found it quite surreal to stand in the landscapes that he rendered in his unique style during the Post-Impressionist period. We visited his grave and his brother Théo’s, which are side by side. Vincent, as he signed his paintings, was a troubled but gifted man.