A flashback to an experience we shared on vacation two years ago.
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As one of history’s creative luminaries, Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch post-impressionist painter, fit the irony linking talented genius with mental affliction, (as so well discussed in a recent article by Nancy C. Anderson, “The Atlantic” magazine, July/August 2014.) In his last days, at the age of 37, van Gogh resided in a small one room apartment above Auberge Revoux, an inn in rural Auvers-Sur-Oise, France, about 27 km NW of Paris. During the brief seventy days spent there in 1890, he was artistic greatness…..but dealing with demons, eventually resulting in his probable suicide that spring.
In September of 2012, Jeanne and I had the privilege of visiting this very special place, the experience intensified by gloomy weather befitting its historical nature. Below is a photographic taste of that day – a side tour from our Avalon Seine River cruise.
Room #5, his room, preserved as it was with barely enough space for a bed and sparse furnishings – and place to hang and dry paintings
Our small group walks along narrow lanes and thru evocative gateways as rain begins to fall under darkening skies…
to the Romanesque/Gothic church, which was inspiration for van Gogh’s “Church at Auvers,” shown below.
We continued with a slow-paced, contemplative walk up this primitive lane towards the hilltop cemetery, the weather suggestive of a day here 122 years earlier, imaged by the strokes of the painter – but emphasizing the brighter, sunlit foreground against the storm clouds as seen below.
(This and other source credits to Wikipedia)
And in the gentle peace of the light rainfall, but troubled sky, we paid tribute to Vincent and his brother, Theo, at the cemetery… their neatly tended graves seen below with one of our groups older members – he slowly walking past while paying his silent homage.
As a post script, the man above, a solo traveler unknown to the 15 or so others in our group, caused some anxiety while we waited on the bus to leave the small village. The driver/guide and others looked in adjacent quaint shops and inns searching in vain, as the rendezvous time came and went. Perhaps in his early nineties, concern was universal among us. At the last moment, this quiet unassuming man appeared, slowly made his way down the bus aisle in silence as we all wondered where he had been. As he slowly and purposefully reached his seat – not even looking up – he unceremoniously said, “I’m sure you all want to know… her name was Annette!”