I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve been here several months and I still haven’t been to the Auberge Ravoux to visit the room where Van Gogh lived and died. It’s practically across the street.
The only real excuse I have is I didn’t want to spend the 5 Euro to get in (his grave is free.) I guess I just figured, his room will always be here, unlike that tarte myrtille in the patisserie window.
But time is running out and I’d be mad at myself if I didn’t do more than peer into the courtyard and dining room.
I read somewhere that just being in Vincent’s room brought someone to tears, the connection was so powerful.
Once when I was visiting one of the Virgin Mary’s supposed death sites near Ephesus, Turkey, a woman who was obviously religious or insane went into convulsions, wept, has weird spasms, and spoke in tongues (of course, it could have been Turkish). Maybe I’ll feel a similar…whatever the hell that was…when I visit Vincent’s chambre du mort. Maybe then I’ll understand why he shot himself in that field. Better yet, maybe I’ll start babbling in fluent French.
I make the long journey across the street without mishap and pay the 5 euros to go into a dead guy’s bedroom. Well, it’s not just his bedroom, it’s a courtyard with plaques with pictures and facts about Van Gogh. A side door leads to a dark stairwell to tiny, tiny dark rooms. Van Gogh’s is the worst because there’s no window, only a skylight.
Suddenly, it all becomes very clear to me. This room is tiny. It must be 5×5 ft. with a really low ceiling that slants in certain parts of the room so you have to hunch over or whack your head. The room he painted in Arles was huge by comparison…hell, the painting of his room in Arles was probably bigger than this room. I thought NYC apartments were bad! I’d go insane in here. I wonder if poor Vincent was tall. That would just make matters worse. Sure, the fetal position is fine every now and then, but I wouldn’t want to make a lifestyle of it.
I’m beginning to have an inkling of what might have induced Vincent to kill himself. I can totally relate to looking up at my pathetic life after slaving all day on something that nobody may ever see or appreciate and wondering dear God, is this all there is? I can see how that might cause a more compulsive personality to trudge to up the hill to the field and put a bullet in his stomach ( I probably would have forgotten where I was going about half way up the hill).
It still doesn’t explain why he shot himself in the stomach (not the place I’d aim for if I wanted to die). Some theorize that the force of the shot made the gun move from the heart to the stomach. My favorite explanation is Carole and Jerome’s: “he was very creative”
Is it possible he wasn’t trying to end his life? Maybe He just wanted to go to a hospital where he’d have a bigger room.
Filed under: art, art history, Auvers sur Oise, Deep thoughts, france on a budget, history, Impressionists, tourism, travel, Vincent Van Gogh Tagged: | Auberge Ravoux, Auvers sur Oise, humor, Van Gogh, Van Gogh suicide, van gogh's room