Vincent van Gogh arrived in Auvers-sur-Oise on 20 May 1890. Although not yet known to the general public, he was widely admired in avant-garde circles. This growing acclaim reinforced both his creativity and his belief in his art: his stay of only seventy days resulted in an extraordinary series of masterpieces that bestowed lasting international fame on the village.
The citizens of Auvers were not particularly startled to find this eccentric-looking Dutchman in their midst. For decades they had been accustomed to an influx of artists arriving from Paris to immortalise their farms, fields and the banks of the river Oise.
For someone whose life was characterised by dramatic upheaval, Van Gogh’s time in the village was remarkably calm and serene. There were no scenes, arguments, or breakdowns. The Ravoux family, the owners of the inn where he lodged, thought ‘Monsieur Vincent’ the ideal client: punctual, sober, prompt to pay his bills and easy to deal with. He worked tirelessly and the art he produced during his stay is astonishing in its radiance, command, and force.
Vincent van Gogh,
extract from a letter to his brother Theo,
Auvers-sur-Oise, 25 May 1890.