In the 1800’s – early 1900’s a motley group of artists took up residence in Auvers. These painters were rebels in that instead of painting the conventional posed studio portraits of the day, they prefered painting in natural light. Here’s a little bit about some of the most famous characters.
Vincent Van Gogh
His stay in Auvers was short but productive (75 canvases in a little less than three months). He moved in early May 1890 on the advice of his brother Theo’s friend, artist Camille Pissarro, who lived in nearby Pontoise. The idea was Van Gogh would seek treatment from Dr. Paul Gachet, an amateur engraver, artist and Doctor (I’m pretty sure he was amateur at that, too). He moved into a small room at the Auberge Ravoux on and died there June 30, 1890 due to self-inflicted gunshot wound to the stomach (not the chest as commonly reported–more on that later).
Street in Auvers, Van Gogh
counting crows (and Van Gogh thought he was depressed)
bringing van gogh to prime time (if van gogh’s life were a TV show)
see a nice collection of Van Gogh’s paintings, letters and sketches done during his time in Auvers.
Visit the auberge ravoux website.
Cezanne arrived in Auvers 18 years before Van Gogh, moving to “the burbs” in 1872 upon the birth of his first son. He worked with Pissarro, who lived in nearby Pontoise. It was Pissarro’s influence that inspired Cezanne to abandon the dark colors he had favored and take his painting out into the natural light. Eventually, Cezanne and Pissarro had a falling out, but Cezanne owes his ex-friend a debt of gratitude. We all do.
He was born in the Virgin Islands in 1830 and took a circuitous route before settling in Pontoise in 1871. He is known to be the father of impressionism and mentored Cezanne and Gauguin to name a few. His gentle landscapes belie the soul of an anarchist, as he spearheaded a revolution that took art from staged, dark paintings to colorful, impressionist landscapes.
Cottages in Auvers, Pissarro
There is so much that’s mysterious about Gauguin and his connection to Van Gogh and Auvers. He’s mentioned as a denizen of Auvers, but I haven’t seen any paintings or evidence he lived here. Yes, he visited. Yes, he had a tempestuous relationship with Vincent and it’s unclear what that whole ear episode was all about and who did what to who. But he’s much more famous for his connection with the Polynesian Islands. He’s a cad and a bastard. He died of syphilis. I probably would have dated him. I’ll have to keep digging on this one.
By rights, Daubigny should be at the top of the page. He was probably the first to discover the Val d’Oise and outdoor painting. His connection to Auvers is much deeper than Van Gogh’s. His paintings are nice, by they lack the wow factor of a Van Gogh or Cezanne, so I really didn’t know or care much about him, until I saw his house in Auvers and the wonderful painted walls (particularly his daughter’s room). He was born in Paris in 1817. His parents sent him to live in Valmondois (a few miles north of Auvers) when he was nine (I wonder if he had ADD). He formed an attachment to the area. He came from a family of painters and pursued art from an early age. He did odd jobs (like painting clock faces and restoring paintings at the Louvre) to support himself. He returned to Auvers in the 60’s, and his friends Pissarro and Cezanne followed. He was an ardent supporter of emerging artists. He died in Auvers in 1878. The bronze bust on the right was erected in Auvers in 1904.
Dr. Paul Gachet
I don’t think anyone would call him a great artist (or a good doctor), but he did play an important role in the lives (and deaths) of many great impressionists. I mean, the dude’s in the Musee D’Orsay … several times. The paucity of information on Gachet and the vague scandals surrounding him make him very interesting to a gossip mongering American like me. TMZ would be all over this guy.
Technically, Monet doesn’t really belong here. He hung with a different clique (like Renoir and Manet and other painters from further west, like Argentuil and never made it up to this neck of the woods (more when I drag my butt to Giverny, which is not so easy to get to from here). I think he was friends with Daubigny for a while and he is considered the father of impressionism and all, so I’ll include him. He’s one of the few impressionists who lived to see some success (he lived to 87 years old). He also grew cranky as he aged, maybe because all his friends were dead.
A guide to where the impressionists painted in the area with maps pictures, paintings.
Cocteau is definitely not a part of the former group. He was born near Paris 10 years ner Paris before Van Gogh shot himself. He was an artist, but also a poet, writer, dramatist, designer and considered “avant grade.” He hung out with Matisse, Picasso and a host a famous glamorous people who also haunted the French Riviera from the late 1920’s to the 60’s