Auvers-sur-Oise has been attracted artists of all kinds for a while, as they are attracted by the beauty and the peace of the surroundings. Among them, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro… and Vincent Van Gogh. This small city set about thirty kilometers from Paris is even the last place the sunflower painter lived in: he took his own life 130 years ago, on July 29, 1890. In 2020, the city attracts many art passionate people here to admire the landscapes painted by Van Gogh. From now on, a new pilgrimage site has opened… and there is a surprise waiting for you.
Visiting Auvers-sur-Oise is a bit like walking in paintings by the Dutch painter. Panels enable us to compare the work and real life all along the visit. Let’s stop by the church of the city, we can picture ears of wheat slowly growing in the fields, then let’s head to Doctor Gachet’s former house, or collect yourselves on Vincent Van Gogh’s grave buried next to his brother, Theo.
The city also owns a very beautiful castle and a museum, the Musée Daubigny. And of course, the unmissable Auberge Ravoux where Van Gogh and many of his artist colleagues stayed. The inn is closed for renovations until March 2021. If you still have to wait to see (or see again) Vincent Van Gogh’s famous bedroom, comfort yourselves and admire the façade of the building picturing all the stories that took place there.
130 years after the Dutch painter’s death, a new step expects visitors. Inaugurated on July 28, 2020, this discreet place very meaningful for those who want to walk where Van Gogh did the last days of his life. As a matter of fact, a few months ago, a searcher discover the precise place the artist painted his very last painting and therefore, where he spent his last day.
The secret behind “Tree Roots”
This is an incredible and moving story that happened during lockdown. Wouter Van der Veen is a university teacher and searcher of the life and works of Vincent Van Gogh. He also manages the Institut Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise. As he was preparing an exhibition about the history of the city, he starts staring into an old postcard. The searcher recognizes the trees, rocks, a composition featured on Vincent Van Gogh’s last paintings the day he took his own life, “Tree Roots”.
Trying not to get carried away and false analyzing, Wouter Van der Veen tried to stay prudent. Yet, he analyzes the postcard and the painting, and there is no doubt possible: he has just discovered where Vincent Van Gogh painted his last work. It is said the painter started his painting in the morning but the color used in the painting show he was still there in the late afternoon.
Therefore, Van Gogh spent his last day on a small road leading to fields, about a hundred meters from the inn he lived in, in front of thickets, stones and herbs. The discovery is supported by Teio Meedendorp – searcher at the Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum exhibiting the original painting.
A bittersweet goodbye
According to Wouter Van der Veen, this painting is a colorful farewell letter: “everything you find in his painting is about humanity. Roots are the struggles of life, death, renewal” the lecturer explains. He also stands by the idea that the suicidal act that got the better of the painter was not a moment of folly. “Each Van Gogh painting is extremely thought up. He has painted all day, he was there, he was conscious, to produce this work”.
Van Gogh’s suicide was not the action of a man lost in folly, crushed by a sick and irrational spirit. Vincent Van Gogh knowingly and consciously decided to take his own life, because he could no longer fight difficulties and pains that paced his life as a man.
For Vincent Van Gogh, the end of a life is not an end at all. Today, we know he was right. Even though we would have loved he would have stayed alive longer, he would have painted more masterpieces, Van Gogh’s story goes on long after he died. His story lives through museums and associations to his memory. It lives through his family, through his brother’s descendants. It lives through all passionate people, all those who have been moved by his art and who come visiting Auvers-sur-Oise.
95430 Auvers sur Oise
train : ligne H via Gare du Nord, correspondance à Valmondois, RER C jusqu'à Pontoise, correspondance pour Auver-sur-Oise