Monday, 25 July 2011

Van Gogh's Asylum

The wonderful St. Remy market was just a road stop for us - our real destination was St. Paul's Hospital just south of the town.  Van Gogh checked himself into the mental hospital and stayed there for almost a year.  Here is the statue of Van Gogh pathetically clutching his sunflowers in the garden.

St. Paul's was a monastery before it became an asylum.  The splendid romanesque cloisters surrounded this beautiful courtyard.

Here are some young visitors enjoying each other's company, oblivious to the gorgeous architecture -

Van Gogh's bedroom in the hospital and below that, the view from his window.  He had painted both the room and the view.

The view of the hospital and chapel from the lilac fields.  The gardens and the fields around the hospital all looked familiar because they had all been painted by Van Gogh - this was one of the more prolific periods in his life.

Here's the painting

Here's the landscape in front of the hospital grounds

One thing we noticed while we were in Provence - there were many mountains and natural landscapes - we were actually right in a vast national park.  But while the French promoted art avidly everywhere, there was very little promotion of hiking and other outdoor activities.  Not once did we come across any literature in the tourist offices promoting hiking trails.  This was in sharp contrast to our last trip in New Zealand where we were bombarded by suggestions for tramping everywhere.  One almost felt guilty if one didn't hike.  Here, it's the art...

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