Paddy Ryan remembers Vincent van Gogh, one of the world’s greatest artists, with paintings such as ‘Starry Night’ and ‘Sunflowers,’ though he was unknown until after his death, 130 years ago on July 29, 1890.


Vincent van Gogh departed the world, which he so vividly captured in his paintings, on 29 July, 1890. The final three months of his troubled thirty-seven years were spent at the French village of Auvers sur Oise. He arrived there at the end of May when fresh blossoms promised fresh beginnings.

Paris, a mere half-hour train ride, could be another world for the artist who, for the first time in months, felt more at ease as he took in the lush, green fields stretching upland to a crown of stately trees.

He knew that other artists, like Camille Corot and Daubigny had found this area most conducive to their work. And he vowed that he too would, among these fields bathed with the strong light and subtle shade of May, produce paintings that would sell.

This would allow him repay his brother, Theo, for all the support he’d given him over the last few years. In fact, he’d just seen Theo’s baby son for the first time when he’d stayed with him and his wife in Paris where his brother was an art-dealer.

It was his connections with the art world that had introduced him to Doctor Gachet whose practice was in Auvers sur Oise. He also knew that the good doctor was aware of his medical history and had promised Theo that he would keep a special eye on him.

Together, Doctor Gachet and Vincent left the railway station and headed to the village inn where accommodation had been secured. Vincent described all of this in letters to his brother and he also remarked that the kindly doctor had the saddest eyes he’d ever seen.

Visiting Auvers sur Oise, last year, I feel little has changed since that eventful May afternoon that saw Vincent van Gogh arrive on his last train journey.

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