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In the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh in Montmartre

Walk with us through the streets of Montmartre. A journey of 8 stages that illustrate the life of one of the greatest figures of 19th century painting, from March 1886 to February 1888.
When we talk about Vincent Van Gogh, we often mention Arles, Saint-Remy or Auvers sur Oise. However, Vincent Van Gogh spent two very important years of his life in Montmartre, which contributed to his artistic opening. It is notably at the studio of the painter Fernand Cormon, located at 10 rue Constance, 20 meters from the Relais Montmartre, that everything began.
This story that we invite you to relive, is materialized by a journey of 8 stages that illustrate a slice of life of one of the greatest figures of the 19th century painting, from March 1886 to February 1888. You will cross with us typical, historical and charming districts.
Come with us!

Equip yourself with a good pair of shoes like those painted several times by V. van Gogh - 1886 and 1887

Click on the map to see the route in Google Maps

10 rue Constance, l’académie

It is 20 meters from the Relais Montmartre that we begin our journey.
Vincent van Gogh was self-taught and it was only at the age of 27 that he decided to become a painter. He attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels and took classes with his cousin, the painter Anton Mauve in The Hague, but he did not draw in an academic way. He will be despised for this.
Shortly after his arrival in Paris, Vincent attended the studio of Fernand Cormon, located at 10 rue de Constance. Vincent was already 33 years old and looked old to all the young students of Fernand Cormon who did not fail to make fun of him.
It was at 10 rue Constance that Van Gogh met Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Louis Anquetin, John Peter Russel and especially Émile Bernard, of whom he became a close friend.

Van Goh by John Peter Russel, 1886 - Emile Berard by Toulouse Lautrec the same year

Fernand Cormon's studio, 10 rue Constance, was probably located on the 4th floor.

54 rue Lepic, or the improvised workshop

We are in June 1886. Vincent Van Gogh has been in Paris for three months. When he arrived in Paris, three months earlier, he had no means and was living with his brother Theo and his wife Johanna in a small apartment which they left to settle at 54 rue Lepic, on the 3rd floor. The window of Vincent's room overlooks the rooftops of Paris.
This room will be his studio. He painted many self-portraits and a few portraits of his brother, including this one below which was mistaken for a long time for a self-portrait.

View of the roofs of Paris - V. van Gogh 1887

Left Self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh, right Theo Van Gogh (detail) by Vincent Van Gogh – 1887

The two brothers were extremely close, as evidenced by their abundant correspondence. Theo admired his brother and never stopped supporting him.
In this apartment at 54 rue Lepic, the Van Gogh brothers received their artist friends, Emile Bernard, Anquetin, Reid, Pissaro and others.

Theo Van Gogh's apartment was located on the third floor and was probably a two-room apartment. On the first floor of the building was the gallery of Alphonse Portier (1841-1902), a former color dealer and patron of the Impressionists, who exhibited Corot (1796-1875) and Cézanne (1839-1906).

83 rue Lepic, the mills that move Van Gogh

The "Moulin de la Galette" is made up of two windmills: the Blute-fin mill to the west and the Radet mill to the east, both acquired by the Debray family, millers in 1809. Between these two mills, a public ball was opened in 1834, which took the name of "Moulin de la Galette" because the Debray family distributed galettes there.
Vincent Van Goh painted many times the mills of Montmartre and the gardens that it dominates.

Le moulin de la Galette in 1886

Le Moulin de la Galette V. van Gogh – 1887

Le moulin de la galette, today

Maquis de Montmartre - 1890

The Radet mill overlooks the hill of Montmartre where there was an area called Maquis de Montmartre, consisting of allotments and a quarry.

Montmartre, quarry, mills - V. van Gogh 1886

18 rue Saint Rustique, where we drink absinthe

The Montmartre bars and cabarets frequented by Vincent are numerous. Fragile, tormented, Vincent drinks. He was known to drink excessively, combined with a poor diet. Bars and cabarets are not, except in exceptional cases, the subject of his paintings.

The guiguette in Montmartre - Wooden billiards - V. van Gogh 1886

Wooden billiards around 1921 - Roger Violet

Billards en bois is now called La bonne Franquette

62 Bd de Clichy, he pays with paintings

Le Tambourin, located at 62 boulevard de Clichy, was a cabaret restaurant that Vincent van Gogh used to frequent. He rubbed shoulders with Emile Bernard and Paul Gaugin, among others. He paid for the meals he consumed in paintings. The owner of the place was none other than Agostina Segatori who had posed for Édouard Manet.

Agostina Segatori – V. Van Gogh 1887

The Tambourin became the Cabaret des Quat'z'arts. Here in 1900

62 boulevard de Clichy, the address of the late Le Tambourin

25 Victor Massé Street: The unannounced arrival

Let's go back in time. We are in March 1886. Vincent arrives from Antwerp. It is at the 25th of this street, then called Laval street, that Vincent invites himself at his brother's house without having warned him. The apartment is small. It is located in the backyard on the second floor on the left.

Theo van Gogh's small apartment was located in a backyard building at 25 Victor Massé Street

Au 9 rue Chaptal, l’art est une marchandise

Vincent Van Goh's father and uncle sent Vincent to Paris in May 1875, to the head office of Goupil & Cie, located at 9 rue Chaptal. Goupil & Cie was then one of the most important art dealers in the world. Vincent was shocked to see art treated as a mere commodity and expressed his displeasure to some of his clients, which led to his dismissal on April 1, 1876. Vincent returned to the Netherlands but his brother got a stable job in 1880 at Goupil & Cie before becoming manager of its branch on Boulevard de Montmartre. It was thanks to this position that he was able to support his brother but also, later, Paul Gauguin, making Vincent believe that the money was sent by his father.

Galerie Goupil, rue Chaptal - Le Monde Illustré 1860

The Goupil & Cie headquarters building, 9 rue Chaptal was also the address where the composer Iannis Xenakis lived

Gallery Goupil & Cie - Boulevard de Montmartre, directed by Theo

14 rue Clauzel, at Father Tanguy's

Vincent Van Gogh met one of the most colorful characters of the Parisian artistic milieu of the 1880s - 1890s. Affectionately called Father Tanguy by the painters, Julien François Tanguy ran a color store at 14 rue Clauzel and often accepted paintings in exchange for his goods. Van Gogh painted 3 portraits of Father Tanguy, including this one which the merchant never wanted to part with. One can see that the use of frank colors was clear.
We can see in the background the "Japonaiserie" which Vincent Van Gogh was passionate about. The Ukiyo-e style is a Japanese artistic movement of the Edo period (1603-1868) which inspired Vincent Van Gogh, especially by the use of its colors. He made numerous studies of it.

Père Tanguy - V. van Gogh 1887

The Bridge in the Rain 1887 by V. van Gogh and Rain on the Ohami Bridge in Atake- Hiroshige 1857


Vincent leaves Paris in February for Arles. He wanted to go to Provence for the colors he wanted to find. He then went to Auvers sur Oise where his psychiatric health became more and more unstable. He sold only one painting in his lifetime, La Vigne Rouge, for 400 francs (about 1900 euros) to Anna Boch, herself a painter, in February 1890. The painting is so overwhelming that it is both narrative and poetic.
Vincent Van Gogh shot himself in the chest on July 28, 1890 in Auvers sur Oise. His brother Theo died six months later. They lie next to each other in Auvers sur Oise.
Voir le parcours in Google Maps
All the paintings of the Parisian period: http://www.vggallery.com/painting/by_period/paris.htm
Learn more about Vincent Van Gogh: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_van_Gogh


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