Vincent lived in Arles in the South of France for more than a year. He experienced great productivity there before suffering from a mental breakdown.
Vincent arrived in Arles on 20 February 1888. After two years in Paris, he was tired of the bustle and demands of city life and longed for the sunshine and vibrant colours of the south. When he got to Arles, Vincent took a room at the hotel-restaurant Carrel, and later, one at Café de la Gare. In early September, he moved into the Yellow House, which he had begun using as a studio on 1 May.
Vincent was highly productive during this period and made numerous paintings and drawings in and around Arles. He developed an expressive, individual painting style characterised by bold colours and dynamic brushstrokes. In Arles, he met the artists Eugène Boch, Dodge MacKnight and Christian Mourier-Petersen and befriended the postal official Joseph Roulin. Paul Gauguin came to join him in October, and they worked together in Arles for two months.
In late December, Vincent suffered a psychotic episode in which he cut off part of his ear and gave it to a prostitute. Gauguin went back to Paris soon afterward. Vincent was admitted to hospital and discharged on 7 January. In late January and February, however, he suffered two more attacks, and he returned to hospital for a longer spell. On 8 May 1889, he left Arles to be voluntarily committed to a psychiatric institution in Saint-Rémy de Provence.