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In search of starry nights

November 22nd, 2016

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A view of the Rhone at Arles. Photo: Rolf Süssbrich

Located 724 kilometres south of Paris, the French city of Arles has seen its fair share of famous figures. Julius Caesar was here in the 1st century, and Constantine loved it so much he made it the second capital of his empire in 306 AD. But perhaps no figure has done more than Vincent van Gogh to put the city on the map, and in our hearts.

Arriving in Arles on February 20, 1888, Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853–1890) spent over a year there, producing some 200 paintings – including one of his most famous works, Starry Night Over the Rhone at Arles, currently on view as part of Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, Van Gogh and more. Steering clear of the traditional classical monuments around the city, Van Gogh took inspiration from everyday life, painting bridges, cafés, gardens, railways and even his bedroom.

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Vincent Van Gogh: Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles, 1888. Oil on canvas, 73 x 92 cm F: 94.5 x 114 cm. Musée d’Orsay

Today’s visitors to Arles can stand in the artist’s footsteps on the river bank (the Quai des Rhone), just a stone’s throw away from his lodgings at Place Lamartine, and experience a similar starry night scene that captured Van Gogh’s imagination (if a little more electrified!), as seen in this contemporary photograph by artist Rolf Süssbrich (seen at top).

See the inspired works of Van Gogh and many others in Mystical Landscapes, running to January 29.

Did you know that that if you are an AGO member, you can come to the exhibition for free as many times as you’d like? Click here to join.

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