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Discovering the Hidden Gems of Van Gogh’s Paris Era

by VanGoghology

A Guide to the Artist's Favorite Spots in the City

Vincent’s time in Paris is particularly interesting, as it marked a significant moment in his artistic journey, where he discovered new techniques and explored his creative potential. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the hidden gems of Van Gogh’s Paris era and explore the artist’s favorite spots in the city.

Vincent moved from Antwerp to Paris in February 1886 and later left for Arles in February 1888. Over a period of two years, he lived in the Montmartre region with his brother Theo. Initially located at 25 Rue Laval (now Victor Massé), they later relocated to a larger apartment at 54 Rue Lepic.

The Montmartre District

The Montmartre district is one of the most iconic and picturesque neighborhoods in Paris, known for its winding cobblestone streets, charming cafes, and stunning views of the city. This was one of Van Gogh’s favorite spots in Paris, where he spent much of his time exploring the city and finding inspiration for his paintings. One of his most famous works, “Starry Night Over the Rhone,” was inspired by his time spent in Montmartre, where he was captivated by the beauty of the city at night.

The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum is one of the most famous museums in the world, home to a vast collection of art and artifacts from around the globe. Van Gogh made a point of visiting The Louvre, and The Musée du Luxembourg during his time in Paris, where he spent countless hours studying the works of the great masters and refining his own techniques. Some of his favorite paintings in the Louvre included works by Rembrandt, Delacroix, and Millet, all of whom influenced his own artistic style.

Café du Tambourin

Located at 62 Boulevard de Clichy in Montmartre, this popular cabaret cafe was run by Italian model and entrepreneur, Agostina Segatori. 

It became a fashionable haunt for many aspiring artists including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Jules Chéret, Louis Anquetin, Émile Bernard, Edward Dantan, and of course, Van Gogh who had an affair with Agostina. The walls of this lively establishment were once covered with Vincent’s paintings, namely floral still life’s which he presented to his love on a daily basis, Sadly the Cafe du Tambourin plummeted into bankruptcy, taking many of Vincent’s paintings with it!

Vincent van Gogh Boulevard de Clichy

Vincent van Gogh Boulevard de Clichy

The Boulevard de Clichy

Notable buildings on the vibrant Boulevard de Clichy include Edgar Degas house at number 6 who lived and died here on the fifth floor –  Théophile Delcassé, the French Foreign Minister, lived at number 11 and at one point was also rented out to Pablo Picasso in 1909. 

Number 12 was the home of French painter William Didier-Pouget, and the pied-à-terre, in 1910, of the painter, Francis Tattegrain

Number 34 housed the morbid Cabaret du Néant, while number 53 was occupied by the old cabarets of Le Ciel and L’Enfer. The famous Le Chat Noir “The Black Cat” was located at number 68.

Number 62 – Café du Tambourin and three doors down at number 65 The painter and sculptor, Jean-Léon Gérôme, had a studio here from 1884 to 1900; Vincent’s friend, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who also frequented the Café du Tambourin and the Moulin Rouge, was also said to have lived here at some point; the Moulin Rouge is at number 82 Boulevard de Clichy. Georges Seurat lived at128 Bis Boulevard de Clichy. 

104 Boulevard de Clichy housed Cormon’s studio where Vincent had studied for three months to expand upon his figure sketching – This is also where he met Émile Bernard, Louis Anquetin, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – The only remaining painting from Cormon’s Studio that we’re aware of is ‘Nude Girl, Seated’, although there are several chalk sketches from this period of the same young girl.

Portret van Etienne Lucien Martin

Etienne-Lucien Martin

A short walking distance from Blvd de Clichy was Avenue de Clichy, here, at number 42 housed a frequent haunt of Vincent’s, the Restaurant du Chalet, Van Gogh also organized art exhibitions here for the group of younger artists he referred to as “of the ‘petit boulevard‘” meaning the smaller cafes and restaurants around the trendy Montmartre area of the Boulevard de Clichy and Boulevard de Rochechouart; These artists included: Bernard, Gauguin,  Guillaumin, Seurat,  Koning, Anquetin, Angrand, Toulouse-Lautrec, Signac, Lucien Pissarro, and of course himself.

Vincent ended up having a ‘violent altercation’ (per Emile Bernard) with the owner, Etienne-Lucien Martin, and as a consequence, Vincent hastily removed the exhibition. As with the Cafe du Tambourin a year prior, the restaurant went bankrupt in 1888.

The exhibition of Japanese prints that I had at the Tambourin had quite an influence on Anquetin and Bernard, but it was such a disaster. For the 2nd exhibition at the showroom on boul. de Clichy, I have fewer regrets about the time and effort. Bernard having sold his first painting there, Anquetin having sold a study there, and I having made the exchange with Gauguin, we all got something.
Vincent to Theo – July 1888

Vincent had exchanged two close-up Sunflower paintings for Gauguin’s ‘On the Banks of the River at Martinique’

The Seine River

The Seine River is one of the most iconic landmarks in Paris, known for its romantic charm and stunning city views. Van Gogh was particularly drawn to the Seine during his time in Paris, where he often took walks along the river and painted scenes of its banks and bridges. His painting “The Seine with the Pont de la Grande Jatte” exemplifies his love for this iconic Parisian landmark.

Pont du Carrousel with Louvre min

Pont du Carrousel with Louvre 1886

The Jardin du Luxembourg

The Jardin du Luxembourg is one of the most beautiful and tranquil parks in Paris, known for its stunning gardens and peaceful atmosphere. Van Gogh was a frequent visitor to the Jardin du Luxembourg during his time in Paris, where he often painted scenes of the park and its surrounding architecture. His painting “The Luxembourg Gardens” is a beautiful example of his love for this hidden gem of Paris.

Pont du Carrousel with Louvre 1886

Pont du Carrousel with Louvre 1886

The Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge is one of the most famous nightclubs in the world, known for its raucous parties, vibrant atmosphere, and can-can dancers. Van Gogh, as well as several of his famous artist friends, frequented the Moulin Rouge where they were captivated by the energy and excitement of the city’s nightlife. Vincent and Theo’s apartment located at 54 Rue Lepic, was a mere seven-minute walk for Vincent.

Art Supply Shops

When Vincent lived in Paris, there were several art suppliers within walking distance of his apartment – Tasset et L’hôte located on rue Pierre Fontaine, off of  Boulevard de Clichy was often preferred because they sold pre-primed canvas which was available as individual ready-stretched primed canvas on frames or stretchers, or as a roll sold by the meter; Van Gogh often purchased several meters and would cut what he needed from the roll. 

Here are a few of Vincent’s paintings using Tasset et L’Hôte primed canvas:

  • Self-portrait with bandaged ear
  • Sunflowers
  • The Bedroom
  • A pair of leather clogs
  • Portrait of Doctor Gachet
  • Eugène Boch
  • Doctor Gachet’s garden
  • Marguerite Gachet in the garden
  • The dance hall in Arles
  • Pietà (after delacroix)

Other suppliers included Hennequin, Rey et Perrot, Pignel-Dupont, Père Tanguy’s art supply shop, Dubus, and A. Fermine.

In conclusion, Van Gogh’s time in Paris was a significant moment in his artistic journey, where he discovered new techniques and explored his creative potential. By exploring some of the hidden, and not so hidden, gems of Van Gogh’s Paris era, we can gain a deeper understanding of his artistic vision and his passion for capturing the beauty of everyday life. Whether you’re an art lover or simply looking for inspiration, these spots are sure to inspire and delight.

The question still remains if Vincent is included in the 1887 photograph taken at the Théâtre-Libre with Gauguin, Koning. Émile Bernard.

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