Vincent van Gogh

From his youth onward, Vincent van Gogh travelled from place to place and country to country, never staying long. 
Walk in his footsteps and discover the places where he lived as they are today. 



  • 20 Feb 1888 - 8 May 1889
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

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  • 20 Feb 1888 - 8 May 1889
Vincent gave drawing and painting lessons to Lieutenant Paul Milliet.

Vincent gave drawing and painting lessons to Paul Eugène Milliet (1863–1943), a second lieutenant in the third regiment of the Zouaves, a light infantry corps. The regiment was stationed at the Caserne Calvin barracks in Arles. Vincent probably met Milliet in early June 1888. In order to teach him properly, Vincent asked his brother Theo in Paris to look for Armand Théophile Cassagne’s book Guide de l’alphabet du dessin ou l’art d’apprendre et d’enseigner les principes rationnels du dessin d’après nature. The instructional guide had served Vincent well in his early years as an artist, and he was eager to use it to impart basic drawing principles to Milliet.

The two men became friends; their activities together included an outing to Montmajour hill near Arles in July 1888. When Milliet travelled to northern France in mid-August 1888, he delivered 36 of Vincent’s artworks to Theo in Paris. Vincent gave him a study as a thank-you gift, but which one is unknown.

Vincent painted a portrait of the young lieutenant but was not happy with the way Milliet posed: he jiggled his legs and seemed unable to sit still. Yet Vincent greatly desired to paint him

“...because he’s good-looking, very jaunty, very easy-going in his appearance, and he’d suit me down to the ground for a painting of lovers.” Read the complete letter

Vincent hung The Lover (Portrait of Lieutenant Milliet) in his bedroom alongside his portrait of Eugène Boch. The work is depicted in his painting The Bedroom.

Milliet left on 1 November 1888 for Guelma, Algeria. There was briefly talk of Vincent’s friend and fellow artist Émile Bernard going to Algeria to serve as a Zouave under Milliet. The plan was that the lieutenant would allow Bernard the freedom to pursue his artistic work and that he would receive drawing lessons in return. However, to Vincent’s disappointment, the plan never came to fruition.


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