For those who appreciate art, it is a joy to discover the places where artists found their inspiration and created paintings that entered history.
Would you be curious to see the village where Van Gogh lived for only two months and created more than 80 (!) paintings and 100 drawings? He ran into his tiny room on July 27th, 1890, with a gunshot wound below his heart, the cause of which is still questioned. How about the lake with lilies painted by Claude Monet, Japanese bridge and famous garden, which was not merely a place, but the artist’s way of life ?
Both sites are located just one hour away from Paris and help us to get to know the painters for whose work, after more than a century, we still eagerly stand in line for in the rain or scorching sun.
LAST REFUGE OF A TRAVELER
Auvers-sur-Oise is the final resting place of Van Gogh and the 38th city he visited. The artist came here in search of peace of mind, and we – to try to understand how he did it.
When you arrive at Auvers-sur-Oise, go to the tourist office and get a free plan with an itinerary. On the map you will find the places immortalized in his work and when you come to those spots, you will see reproductions of paintings of these places. Imagine that at the spot where you are standing now, more than 120 years ago, there was Vincent Van Gogh with his easel. Look at the reproduction of the painting “The Church at Auvers” and try to view it through the lens of then unrecognized, mentally fragile artist. Why did he choose these colors? What was he feeling while painting?
Van Gogh spent the last two months of his life Auvers-sur-Oise. These were also his most productive months. He came here from a psychiatric hospital, where he received medical treatment for one year. Before coming to Auvers-sur-Oise, he had a brief stop in Paris, where he stayed with his brother – Theo. But the capital was too noisy and too busy for him. He was looking for a peaceful and quiet place. Vincent’s brother found him a cozy place just one hour from Paris. Other artitsts also came here often from the capital… But the main reason was Dr. Gachet – a good specialist and an art lover. Doctor Gachet lived in the neighborhood and was looking after Vincent. He advised Van Gogh to paint as much as possible, to create new drawings and devote all his free time to work.
The room in which Van Gogh lived was very small and modestly furnished. Without knowing the circumstances of the artist’s life, you might think that he was poor and could not afford more. But this is misleading. Despite the fact that during his life Van Gogh was not recognized and did not earn a living with his paintings, his younger brother, Theo, was a very wealthy man, who regularly sent him money. However, the modest, if not poor, accommodation was the choice of the artist. Perhaps it had to do with Van Gogh preference to spend most of his time painting outdoors.
On July 28th, 1890 Van Gogh returned late at night to his room with a gunshot wound below the heart. Police arrived and his brother Theo came quickly from Paris. Vincent said that it was a suicide attempt. Given the unstable mental state of the artist, the version was immediately accepted. No one looked for witnesses or a gun. The next day, Van Gogh died.
Sixty years after his death, an artist named Rene Secretan declared that he wounded Van Gogh. Secretan was then 17 years old and often came from Paris to Auvers-sur-Oise. On the day when Van Gogh was wounded, Secretan was playing in the wheat field with a gun and accidentally shot the artist. It can be assumed that Van Gogh did not want to destroy the life of a young man, so he took the responsibility. But there is another theory – that M. Secretan, having made his confession at the time when Van Gogh became internationally recognized, was looking for (rather dubious) fame.
Whatever it was, Van Gogh died at the age of 37. He was self-taught, painting during only 10 years of his life, from 27 to 37 years old (in comparison, Monet’s artistic career lasted for over 70 years).
When you’re planning a trip to Auvers-sur-Oise, note that this place is not only well known because of Van Gogh. There is the Museum of Absinthe – the most popular drink of the XIX century, which played a special role in the life of the Impressionists. In the same village you will find the building Le Castel Val, designed by the architect Hector Guimard. We know this man by his well-known Parisian subway entrances of art nouveau style.
Next door is the studio of the artist Charles-François Daubigny. Although his name is not as famous as Van Gogh and Monet, this man made an important contribution to the history of art. In the middle of the XIX century, his style influenced impressionists and he helped Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir exhibit their paintings at the beginning of their careers.
Let’s sum this up. For a relatively quick tour of the most important places – go on the main 3-hour itinerary: the places where Van Gogh painted with the reproductions of his paintings, the room of the artist, the cemetery, where Van Gogh is buried alongside his brother Theo, and the house of Dr. Gachet. If you have the whole day – go on a tasting and listen to the story of the ‘green drink’, also pay a visit to Guimard and Daubigny. Finally, simply stroll through the beautiful village, where one of the most iconic and controversial artists of the XIX century tried to find peace of mind.
FLOWERS, THAT CONQUERED THE WORLD
Before you go to the house of Claude Monet – the Orangerie Museum is a must visit. It is located in the Tuileries garden, where you can stay for a few minutes in the oval hall with water lilies. This room is a cherished dream of one of the founders of Impressionism. Monet wanted to create a painting, through which the viewer feels as though he is inside his garden at Giverny.
Claude Monet’s House, which is located in the town of Giverny, is, in a sense, also one of his creations. The artist found this place in 1883 at the age of 43 and rented it for a while. But by early 1890 Monet became one of the leading figures in the art world. His paintings sold very well and the artist was able to buy the house and the garden.
The Garden, in the form in which we see it now, has been created completely by Monet. A few years later, after the acquisition of the house, the painter bought another site across the street and, after going through all the circles of bureaucratic hell, got the authorization to make a diversion from a nearby river to create a lake in the garden.
The first and the main advice for those who are going to Giverny – buy your tickets online and in advance. Otherwise, you will stand in line for at least two hours. With a printed e-ticket you will pass without queueing. At the site, you will visit a house and two gardens. The “Flower Garden” is a colorful garden next to the house with a variety of flowers – from tulips to poppies, wisteria and irises. The “Water Garden” has a lake, a bamboo grove, the Japanese bridge , willows and water lilies. It is obvious that Monet could not take of such a huge garden on his own. He had six permanent gardeners, one of whom had a task to remove rain drops from water lilies on a daily basis.
The second piece of advice: if you love flowers as much as Monet did – walk in the garden of his house and choose the flowers you like. Then go down to the gift shop – which was previously the artist’s workshop – and buy the seeds of the flowers that you have just seen in the garden of one of the major Impressionists.э
Monet’s Water Garden is a kind of reproduction of a Japanese garden. The artist was interested in Eastern culture. On the walls of every room of his home you will see oriental prints. They feature waves, gardens, Japanese bridges … We did not describe the house, because the Claude Monet Foundation made a remarkable virtual tour of all of its corners.
Monet lived in this house for 43 years. He built himself a “floating workshop” and painted for hours in his favorite garden. Even when the artist was diagnosed with cataracts and he started having problems with his vision, he continued to work on the series “Water Lilies.” Today, the pictures painted here cost tens of millions of dollars and Giverny welcomes more than half a million tourists annually. But the beauty is to wait for the evening to come and go down to the water garden one hour before closing. There will be only a few visitors remaining. Sit down on a bench between the bamboo grove and a huge tree, like the one from the Avatar movie, and feel the harmony and peace felt here by the artist, who has become a symbol of an era in the history of art.
MONET’S HOUSE AND GARDEN
The Claude Monet Foundation is open every day from 25th of March to the 1st of November 2016 from 9.30 a.m. till 6 p.m. – last admission 5.30 p.m.
ENTRANCE FEES House and Gardens:
Adults : 9,50 €
child aged from 7 and students : 5,50 €
Child under 7 : free
In Paris, at the railway station of San Lazare (Gare Saint Lazare) take the train to Gare De Vernon. About 45 minutes.
At the Gare De Vernon you will need to catch a shuttle bus (navette) VERNON – GIVERNY, departing 15 minutes after the arrival of each train.
ROOM OF VINCENT VAN GOGH (RAVOUX INN)
Open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 2 March to 30 October. Visit Time: 10am – 6pm. Last visit start at 5.30pm.
Adults: 6 €
Children 12 to 17 years: 4 €
Children under 12 years: free
BY TRAIN FROM PARIS
Journey time: approximately 1 hour
Take a train from Saint-Lazare or Gare du Nord, direction Pontoise. Change at Pontoise for Persan-Beaumont, get off at Auvers (250 meters from Ravoux Inn)
Or take the RER C, direction Pontoise. Change at the station St-Ouen l’Aumône and take the train in the direction of Creil and get off at Auvers sur Oise.
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