Just south of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence are groves of olive trees and rows of cedars. Driving along the D5 highway, one might miss the Maison de Santé Saint-Paul de Mausole which rests back from the highway. I know our first trip to St-Rémy, we certainly did.
However, back in the surroundings of this traditional Provençal landscape is a special place of rest. It is a home for psychiatric patients, individuals with special needs, and the elderly. Art therapy is used with the patients as a method of healing.
And one of the patients…Vincent Van Gogh. The courtyards and grounds are filled with scenes familiar to many. From an art standpoint, his time in Provence was his most productive period.
Van Gogh lived here after his stay in Arles, and after the loss of his ear, committed himself. It is evident the staff appreciated Van Gogh as they let him paint alone outside, a designation not given to many. In St Rémy, Van Gogh created 143 oil paintings and 100 drawings within one years’ time.
Still today, patients create masterpieces in the form of painting and sculpture. They are for sale in the small shop that sits below Van Gogh’s old room. It makes you wonder about undiscovered potential, perhaps within one of today’s artists living there. After all, Vincent maybe earned $100 as an artist before he died.
Our leader Kay read this quote as we pulled away from the site,
“The world concerns me only in so far as I have a certain debt and duty to it, because I have lived in it for thirty years and owe to it to leave behind some souvenir in the shape of drawings and paintings – not done to please any particular movement, but within which a genuine human sentiment is expressed.” ― Vincent van Gogh
I for one am very glad for his souvenirs.