A Visit From Van Gogh
In February 1888 one of the world’s most famous artists came to Arles to be inspired by the bright skies of Southern France. Vincent Van Gogh was so prolific here that he painted over 300 works during his 15 month stay in the town. Today in Arles you can visit the sites of the tortured artists most famous works. He fed off the yellow colours in Arles and painted his house in yellow.
His 130 year old painting of the bridge at Trinquetaille shows a small sprig, which is now a huge tree. After an argument with the artists Paul Gaguin, Van Gogh tried to kill his fellow artist and then cut off his ear and gave it to a prostitute. He was detained in the Sanatorium at Arles. Today the hospital keeps the gardens exactly as they are depicted in Van Gogh’s paintings.
In modern Arles you can visit the Van Gogh Foundation and see modern intepretations of his classic works by up and coming contemporary artists. The Starry Night Over the Rhone is described by the artist Picasso as the one Van Gogh painting that one can never take away from Arles.
The Rome of France
Arles has enough Roman antiquities intact to call itself “The Rome of France”. In fact its ampitheatre is apparently one of the oldest in the Roman world and could fit 20,000 spectators in its heyday. In the early middle ages it was transformed into a fortress sheltering more than 200 houses and two vaults. 2000 years ago gladiators fought to the death in the ampitheatre. The gladiators would battled with wolves and animals local to Arles; lions and tiger were the reserve of Rome’s Colosseum alone.
Nowadays, the ampitheatre has been revived for bullfighting. In French bullfighting, known as course camarguise the young razeteurs dress in white and try to remove ribbons from the bulls horns. Unlike Spanish bullfighting, the bulls are not killed and return unharmed to bounce around the fields of the Camargue.
Once you have explored Van Gogh’s world in Arles, take the time to visit a gallery set up in his honor, including art by many major artists.
24 Bis Rand Point
Tel: 0033 – 4 90 49 94 04
Fax: 0033 – 490 49 61 32
By Susi O’Neill