November 06, 2017

St. Rémy de Provence: Van Gogh's Asylum

One of the most productive periods of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh’s life was the time he spent in the south of France. He’d hoped to establish a community of artists in the town of Arles with his friend, Paul Gauguin. Following an absinthe-fuelled argument with Gauguin, van Gogh sliced off his left earlobe with a razor blade. He then sought refuge from his inner demons at Saint Paul de Mausole Monastery in St. Rémy de Provence.

Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, Vincent van Gogh (1889)
Courtauld Gallery, London

In the year between May 1889 and May 1890, van Gogh produced 143 paintings at the psychiatric hospital Saint Paul de Mausole. Reproductions of some of these paintings are displayed along a walkway leading to the hospital.

Saint Paul de Mausole, St. Rémy de Provence

Garden Walkway

Hospital at St. Rémy de Provence, Vincent van Gogh (1889)

Garden of Saint Paul Hospital, Vincent van Gogh (1889)

Irises, Vincent van Gogh (1889)

Self-Portrait, Vincent van Gogh (1889)

Garden of Saint Paul Hospital, Vincent van Gogh (1889)

Statue of Vincent van Gogh

First Steps (After Millet), Vincent van Gogh (1890)

The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh (1889)

Cloister of Saint Paul de Mausole

A room similar to one occupied by van Gogh overlooks a small garden behind the monastery.

Recreation of van Gogh's Room

Window Overlooking the Lavender Garden

Bedroom in Arles, Vincent van Gogh (1889)

More reproductions of van Gogh's paintings line one side of the garden where rows of lavender and bright red poppies bloom.

The Siesta (After Millet), Vincent van Gogh (1889-90)

Wheat Fields in a Mountainous Landscape, Vincent van Gogh (1889)

Olive Orchard, Vincent van Gogh (1889)

Blossoming Almond Tree, Vincent van Gogh (1890)

Lavender Garden

Poppies in Bloom

None of van Gogh’s work remains in Provence but I saw two of the paintings from his time in St. Rémy at the National Gallery in London last year: Long Grass with Butterflies and Wheat Field with Cypresses.

Long Grass with Butterflies, Vincent van Gogh (1890)
National Gallery, London

Wheat Field with Cypresses, Vincent van Gogh (1889)
National Gallery, London

The National Gallery is also home to one of van Gogh's famous Sunflowers, which he painted in Arles to decorate a room for his guest, Paul Gauguin.

Sunflowers, Vincent van Gogh (1888)
National Gallery, London

Peach Trees in Blossom, Vincent van Gogh (1889)
Courtauld Gallery, London

Saint Paul de Mausole continues to operate as a psychiatric hospital today.

Theo's Letter to Vincent, Ossip Zadkine


  1. I finally got to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam last year. It was incredible to see his paintings and read the story of his life as I walked through the galleries. Thanks for sharing your photos.

    1. I'd love to see the Van Gogh Museum one day too.


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