Van Gogh’s muse
Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night Over the Rhone depicted the Rhone River in Arles, France in 1888. (Image courtesy of the Vincent Van Gogh Gallery)
When Vincent Van Gogh moved to Arles, France in 1887, he dreamed of starting an artist community.
But his struggle with depression made achieving this dream difficult. Social relationships weren’t easy for Van Gogh, said David Brooks of the online Vincent Van Gogh Gallery, but he was not the madman history books made him out to be. “In truth, Van Gogh was mentally disturbed, no doubt, but perhaps no more so than anyone today taking the proper anti-depressant medication,” Brooks said. “Van Gogh was, in fact, a very thoughtful, kind considerate, extremely intelligent and kind person.”
Van Gogh found his muse in the city of Arles, which set the scene for many of his most famous works. “Although Van Gogh began producing masterpieces as early as 1885”, Brooks said, “It was really in his Arles period that he fully blossomed as an artist.”
As Arles left quite an impression on Van Gogh, the artist’s mark on the Provençal city remains indelible today. For that reason, the Arles Office of Tourism features a Van Gogh walking tour of the town. Step into Starry Night Over the Rhone as you stroll along the river, or relax in Place du Forum, the historical city centre famously depicted in Café Terrace at Night. Van Gogh’s experiences in Arles may have been bittersweet, but the dreamy quality of the art it inspired still exists today.
To prepare art lovers for this tour, we put together a slide show of Arles through Van Gogh’s eyes.