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discover the places where Vincent lived and worked
 
 

Doctor Gachet
Auvers-sur-Oise, France

  • May 20, 1890 - July 29, 1890

On arriving in Auvers on 20 May 1890, Vincent immediately went to see Dr Paul-Ferdinand Gachet (1828–1909) on the advice of his brother Theo. Gachet acted as Vincent's doctor and confidant. It was vital that he have one, as there was a chance he would suffer further psychotic attacks, as he had in Arles and Saint-Rémy:

“The main thing is to know the doctor so that, in the event of a crisis, one doesn’t fall into the hands of the police and isn’t forcibly carried off into an asylum.”

With considerable medical experience and a deep interest in art, Gachet, who had been recommended to Theo by the artist Camille Pissarro, seemed right for the job. He painted in his spare time and knew many contemporary artists, including Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir and Paul Cézanne, and collected their work. Vincent felt understood by the eccentric doctor, who bore a striking resemblance to him in both looks and personality. The two became friends, and Vincent often visited Gachet in the former girls' school where he had lived since 1872. Vincent wrote to his brother Theo:

"I feel that at his place I can do not too bad a painting every time I go there, and he’ll certainly continue to invite me to dinner each Sunday or Monday." 

Gachet’s house was filled with antiques; Vincent did not rate all of them highly but considered them useful as inspiration for still lifes and floral works. He made various paintings at the doctor’s house, including Dr Gachet's Garden and one of his daughter, Marguerite Gachet in the Garden. He also painted and etched Gachet’s portrait. The doctor had a printing press in his house, and Vincent planned to make etchings from the paintings he had done in Arles and Saint-Remy and produce prints of them at no cost. He never carried out his plan, however.

When Vincent lay suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest after attempting suicide on 27 July, Dr Gachet came to take care of him. His efforts were futile, however, and Vincent died two days later. Dr Gachet brought sunflowers to Vincent’s funeral and said a brief word. During his life, Vincent had given Gachet a number of his artworks, and after his death, Gachet was given several more. 

literature

Anne Distel
Cézanne to Van Gogh: The Collection of Doctor Gachet
New York, 1999

Marije Vellekoop et al
Vincent van Gogh tekeningen, deel 4: Saint-Rémy en Auvers-sur-Oise 1888-1890
Zwolle, 2007

Ronald Pickvance
Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy and Auvers
New York, 1986

Wouter van der Veen
Van Gogh in Auvers: his last days
New York, 2010

 
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