Vincent twice painted Saint-Rémy’s main street, Cours Est, which was renamed Boulevard Mirabeau in 1891. The works were a departure from the others he made in Saint-Rémy; he generally preferred to stay within the asylum’s walls or escape into the stillness of the breathtaking countryside. On his first trip to the village, in early June 1889, Vincent was taken unwell. He wrote to his brother Theo:
“I once went into the village — accompanied, at that. The mere sight of the people and things had an effect on me as if I was going to faint, and I felt very ill.” Read the complete letter
Months later, in early December, he felt well enough to go back to the village and paint Rue Menders. He wrote:
“The last study I did is a view of the village – where people were at work – under enormous plane trees – repairing the pavements. So there are piles of sand, stones and the gigantic tree-trunks – the yellowing foliage, and here and there glimpses of a house-front and little figures.” Read the complete letter
After the first study, The Road Menders, he painted the subject again; the second work is more detailed and subdued and bears the same title as the first.