A Visit to the Auvers-Sur-Oise of Vincent Van Gogh

By Vickers, Philip | Contemporary Review, November 1992 | Go to article overview

A Visit to the Auvers-Sur-Oise of Vincent Van Gogh


Vickers, Philip, Contemporary Review


AUVERS-SUR-OISE, the last home of Vincent van Gogh and scene of some of his most renowned work: what is it like today? Can the motifs which inspired him still be seen there? Such questions as these led me to visit Auvers recently, just as I had been attracted to the Forest of Fontainbleau to visit Barbizon and Chailly-en-Biere and to the Brittany coast to follow in the footsteps of Gauguin. And, does it not deepen our appreciation of art to be in the milieu in which it was created? So, come with me now to Auvers, a small town on the banks of the River Oise, some thirty kilometres north-west of Paris.

Auvers has changed remarkably little during the one hundred years since Vincent van Gogh died there, in the Ravoux Inn (still to be seen) on 29th July, 1890. It is a friendly town, it is not over-modernised, and although it has grown from a population of 2,256 in 1892 to some 6,500 it is still a comfortable, even cozy place. It was friendly in Vincent's day: Dr. Gachet was a true friend and we know that in the month of his death Vincent was planning to leave the Ravoux Inn and to find a more permanent apartment. It has been said, |many people there loved him for his goodness and humanity'. In this statement alone we get a preliminary insight into one of the reasons for his staggering world-wide reputation.

I visited Auvers in early spring. The first sign you see, on the L'Isle-Adam to Pontoise Road, reads |Auvers, village des peintres'. Its main street is a long, straggling one squeezed in between the river bank to the east and the steeply mounting hillside to the plain above to the west. Just below the road runs the railway. As you drive into the town you can see little which reminds you of his work, for the roadway is narrow and the buildings climbing up the hill present no view of the church tower. It was the church at Auvers I wanted to see first of all. I had difficulty in finding it. When I did so, I came across it exactly as you see it in his painting of the church (1) and I came to a halt at almost the exact spot where he would have set up his easel. There was no one about; it was a moment when one loses one's breath.

At last I think I understand what he was doing in this extraordinary painting: he portrays the church as a living thing, pulsating with spiritual life. No where else in Auvers does he distort the configuration of a building as he does here. Van Gogh was very aware of God and somewhere writes, |Try to understand the last word the serious masters say in their masterpieces: there is God in it'. This important and illuminating statement is displayed on a panel near the church. The church here, the central heart and core of life in Auvers, is energised in the painting: the stones cry out.

Just opposite is a sign with an arrow: |Tombeau de Vincent van Gogh', leading you up the hill. I walked up the hill. As soon as you crest the hill you are on familiar ground, you are on the rolling fields of the Vexin Plain, scene of perhaps his last and certainly one of his most renowned canvases Wheat Field with Crows (2). There are the dividing tracks, one to the left, one twisting ahead, one off to the right. It was March, so the wheat was only a few inches high but, most remarkable of all, the black, black crows swooped low over the field just as they do in the painting.

One can reflect for a long time here: the wide expanse of the sky, the rolling plain mounting gradually before you; behind you the village lies hidden by the crest of the hill; the silence broken only by the sound of the wind in the grass and the occasional caw of the crows. Even without van Gogh one would be brought to reflection here or has one fallen totally within the magic of his vision? I picked up a stone from beside the path, just where he would have stood, and put it in my pocket. I have it in my studio now.

He painted several canvases hereabouts, Wheat Fields Under Clouded Sky (3) is one. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Visit to the Auvers-Sur-Oise of Vincent Van Gogh
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.