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The Church at Auvers

by VanGoghology

Also known as ‘the Van Gogh Church’


or its official name, the “Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption.”

The Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption is a Roman Catholic parish church in Auvers-sur-Oise, Île-de-France, France.

In addition to its impressive architecture, the church gained renown through the efforts of Van Gogh in the late 19th century. However, it was actually established approximately 800 years earlier by Philip I and subsequently reconstructed at the behest of Adelaide of Savoy, the Queen Consort. Adelaide frequently resided in the royal estate located to the north of the church following the demise of her husband, King Louis VI of France, in 1137.

The church stands as a testament to the architectural marvels of the past. Its Gothic style, characterized by pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and soaring spires, showcases the craftsmanship and artistic vision of the medieval era. Intricate stone carvings and stained-glass windows adorn the church’s exterior, contributing to its ethereal beauty.

I have a larger painting of the village church – an effect in which the building appears purplish against a sky of a deep and simple blue of pure cobalt, the stained-glass windows look like ultramarine blue patches, the roof is violet and in part orange. In the foreground a little flowery greenery and some sunny pink sand. It’s again almost the same thing as the studies I did in Nuenen of the old tower and the cemetery. Only now the color is probably more expressive, more sumptuous.
Vincent to Willemien – June 1890

The painting “Church in Auvers-sur-Oise” holds great significance in Van Gogh’s career as it showcases his unique style and his fascination with capturing the essence of nature and spirituality. This painting also reflects Van Gogh’s emotional and mental state during his time in Auvers-sur-Oise, where he sought solace and inspiration in the beauty of the countryside.

The Church at Auvers Van GoghThe church did not permit Theo’s request to hold a service for his brother.

This denial of a service can be attributed mostly to the contextual factors surrounding his demise and the prevalent social conventions of the day. Upon Van Gogh’s suicide in 1890, the Catholic Church saw suicide as a serious transgression. Consequently, the ecclesiastical authorities in Auvers, in accordance with their religious convictions, declined to bestow upon him a burial in consecrated soil.

Furthermore, the church’s hesitance to permit a service may have been exacerbated by his mental health challenges and his non-adherence to Catholicism. After all, Vincent was Protestant.

Church at Auvers Interior

It is noteworthy to mention that the burial of Van Gogh occurred in the cemetery a short distance from the church, and ultimately remains a destination of pilgrimage for individuals with a passion for art and admiration for his artistic contributions. Over the course of history, the artistic talents and sad life narrative of Vincent van Gogh have garnered significant recognition and acclaim, notwithstanding his original denial of a service at the church in Auvers. 

As I witnessed in 2017, they now showcase several of his prints scattered throughout its interior.


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