Monday, October 11, 2010 – Provence
Today is a rainy day, hazy, a bit cold, not pouring, but certainly not sunny, as we are promised it will be tomorrow. So we opt to go to St. Remy to see what I call the Van Gogh Stations of the Cross. Eighteen reproductions of Van Gogh’s paintings on panels outside, throughout a walk down the pathways he wandered when he committed himself to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum. In about a year, he created over 100 paintings, and you can walk through the eighteen outside panels, enter the asylum and walk up a flight of stairs to Van Gogh’s bedroom, his sitting room, the room in which he was administered his shock treatments, etc.
Reading some of the information, in one case exquisitely written by a psychiatrist at the hospital, I feel as though I am almost there, watching Van Gogh paint as he gazes out his barred windows. The courtyard in the back of the hospital has a beautiful lavender garden, bordered by flowering rosemary bushes. Two small stone structures are nestled against the stone walls of the property.
Returning to the “centre ville” of the town, walking past modern shops in the ancient buildings, one could almost forget the man who spent a tormented and yet productive year in a mental hospital over a century ago.
A wonderful way to soak up some of the Provencal art history!