Auvers-sur-Oise: the grave of Vincent and Theo van Gogh3 min read
Vincent van Gogh and his brother, Theo, are literally buried in a landscape straight out of a painting of the artist.
In the heat of the summer in 1890, Vincent van Gogh stumbled into his boarding house in rural Auvers-sur-Oise, outside of suburban Paris.
He was bleeding, clutching his torso.
He made it upstairs to his spartan room, took to his bed, and died two days later, in the early morning of 29 July 1890.
Only 37 years old, he had shot himself in the chest, ultimately succumbing not to the initial wound, but to the resulting infection from the lodged bullet.
While his death certificate states that he died as a result of suicide, at least two biographers have challenged that, saying he may have been intentionally or accidentally shot by someone else.
Either way, he was buried, the day after he died, in the village public cemetery.
As early as 1883, Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo: “… as to the time I still have ahead of me for work, I think I may safely presume that my body will hold up for a certain number of years… between 7-10, say”.
In 1889, he experienced a deterioration in his mental health. Suffering from severe depression, he cut off part of his left ear with a razor while staying in Arles, France.
His condition improved and he was ready to be discharged by March 1889, coinciding with the wedding of his brother to Johanna Bonger, a multilingual Dutch editor and translator of the letters of the van Gogh brothers.
Vincent entered the asylum in early May 1889.
His mental condition remained stable for a while and he was able to work, producing many of his most iconic paintings, including The Starry Night, at this time.
However he suffered other relapses, in May 1890 he was discharged from the asylum (the last painting he produced at the asylum was At Eternity’s Gate, an image of desolation and despair), and after spending a few days with Theo and his wife in Paris, he went to live in Auvers-sur-Oise, a commune north of Paris popular with artists.
Vincent Van Gogh’s grave is as modest as his reputation was at the time, befitting an artist who had sold only a few paintings and drawings during his too-brief life.
But his influence as a transformative modernist was more widely known and admired in Impressionist circles in Paris, and his burial was attended not only by his devoted brother Theo and villagers who had grown fond of him, but by a small cohort of the Parisian art community as well, including painters Lucien Pissarro, Charles Laval and Émile Bernard, and the well-known art dealer Julien Tanguy.
Six months later, Theo died at the age of 33, after multiple epileptic fits symptomatic of dementia paralytica.
He was buried in Utrecht, about 50 miles from where the brothers were born in Zundert, Netherlands.
His body stayed in Utrecht until 1914, when the family had it exhumed and transported to join his brother, in Auvers-sur-Oise.
Many of van Gogh’s paintings from his time in Auvers are as bold and dramatic as any of his greatest works.
Wheat and corn fields, farm cottages, expressive blue skies—all of the scenes that surround the quiet country cemetery where he’s laid to rest with his beloved Theo by his side.