After the Netherlands and Belgium, my search for places linked to life and work of Van Gogh brought me to Paris next. Vincent lived there on several occasions. But, the most important one was between 1886 and 1888 when he decided to pursue his career as a painter and learn at the art centre of his time. There are many places related to him there, so here is my guide with some of the must-see locations linked to Vincent van Gogh in Paris.
Locations linked to Vincent van Gogh in Paris
Van Gogh wrote in one of his letters:
And mind my dear fellow, Paris is Paris, there is but one Paris and however hard living may be here and if it became worse and harder even – the French air clears up the brain and does one good – a world of good.
I couldn’t agree with him more. There’s something special about Paris….
Paris was an art centre of the world in 1886 when Van Gogh came there to pursue his painting career. Famous Impressionists were working in a city, and a new generation of post-Impressionists already started to experiment with their unique styles.
Vincent moved there after spending the last five years in the Netherlands, painting with dark colours and focusing on a harsh life of peasants. At the very end of 1885, he went to Antwerp in Belgium to start taking some art classes at the Art Academy there. However, that didn’t last for long, and in spring of 1886 Van Gogh moved to Paris.
⤷ Read more: Impressionists in Paris
Places related to Van Gogh’s life and work in Paris
Vincent came a bit earlier than planned and started to live with his brother Theo in a small apartment at Rue Victor Masse 25. Some two months later they moved to the bigger, more suitable apartment on Rue Lepic 54, where he had a spacious studio, as well. Both of those buildings could still be seen in Paris today.
I was quite lucky to meet with a lovely designer, artist and a 19th-century-art-in-Paris expert Ana (you can check her beautiful designs and book a tour with her on a link here). This was my second tour with her in Paris, and I’m definitely recommending her as a guide there!
⤷ Read more: Beginners art & culture guide to Paris
Ana took me on a walk around Montmartre, during which she showed me some places linked to Van Gogh in Paris. We saw the place where Pere Tanguy’s art supply shop was. This is where Van Gogh saw some of the first Japanese prints, that were so influential on his work later on.
We also saw some of the places where Vincent painted his paintings, like that famous one of Rue de Clichy.
It was so interesting to see how close to one of his good friends (and influences), Henry de Toulouse-Lautrec he lived. Their studios were just a block away from each other. George Seurat’s studio wasn’t far away either.
While walking around Montmartre with Ana, I could almost see some first modern painters walking around those streets, meeting at cafés there and looking for the right light to capture on their paintings.
It’s incredible how during less than two years Van Gogh spent in Paris, he changed so much. Vincent discovered colours and started to experiment with them on his paintings. He learned so quickly.
Addresses of some places linked to Van Gogh in Paris:
- Rue Victor Masse 25, Paris – First apartment where Vincent and Theo lived together in spring 1886
- Rue Lepic 54, Paris – Apartment in which Theo and Vincent lived together and where Vincent had his studio
- Rue Tourlaque 5, Paris – Location of Henry de Toulouse -Lautrec’s studio
- Rue Clauzel 14, Paris – Location of Pere Tanguy’s art supply shop
- Hameau des artistes 5, Paris – Windmill from one of Van Gogh’s painting
- Boulevard de Clichy 62, Paris – Location of Le Tambourin café
- Boulevard de Clichy 128bis, Paris – Location of George Seurat’s studio
Van Gogh’s paintings at museums in Paris
Paris is home to numerous amazing museums. And some beautiful collections of Van Gogh’s paintings. Here are some places you shouldn’t miss if looking for Van Gogh’s art in Paris.
# – Musée d’Orsay
Musée d’Orsay doesn’t have a vast collection of Van Gogh’s paintings, but they have some of his best work. A version of ‘Bedroom in Arles’ and some of the work he painted at Auvers-sur-Oise are on display there. One of his most famous self-portraits with a blue background is there, too. And a portrait of Eugene Bosh, in my opinion, one of his best paintings.
In two rooms dedicated to his work, Vincent’s paintings are exhibited next to those of Paul Gauguin. So, it’s a great place to observe how they influenced each other, too.
However, not only his own paintings are captivating for someone looking to find out more about Vincent’s work. Musée d’Orsay is a great place to see some of the painters that influenced Vincent a lot. They have a vast collection of paintings from the Barbizon school. Those painters, with their motives of peasants, influenced Van Gogh a lot during his first five years of painting career.
One of the best collections of Impressionist work is on display there, as well. Many of those painters were Van Gogh’s contemporaries. They painted together, but also argued about art and created some of the first modern paintings by learning from each other.
⤷ Read more: Best museums in Paris
# – Van Gogh Digital Exhibition
During my stay in Paris, I was quite lucky to see a digital exhibition about Van Gogh organised at the Atelier des Lumières. It’s still organised in several locations around the world. So if you have a chance, be sure to visit it.
To be honest, I didn’t expect much from it. But in the end, I was so amazed by the whole experience.
It literally felt like I’ve stepped in some of Van Gogh’s paintings. And it made me feel his colours and brush strokes a bit better. The whole projection lasts for around an hour. It tells the story of Vincent’s life through music and light projections of details from his paintings. It was absolutely a fantastic experience.
# – Louvre Museum
Although being very much in front of the time with his art, Vincent actually loved to learn from the old masters. That’s why he was quite frequent at the Louvre Museum. There, he learned about painting from the works of some classical painters.
You won’t find any of his paintings there, but you can see a place where he would often come during his time in Paris. And enjoy in art, Van Gogh enjoyed in, too.
⤷ Read more: A guide for the perfect museum visit
During those two years Van Gogh spent in Paris, he changed completely. He met some of the best modern painters of his time, such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, George Seurat, Emile Bernard… And Vincent learnt a lot from them. He was experimenting with their styles and that, eventually, helped him to develop his own unique style.
However, after those two years in Paris, he wanted to found ‘his own Japan’. Those bright colours and unusual motives, Vincent saw on prints he was buying at the Pere Tanguy’s shop.
So, he moved once again. To the very south of France, Arles, this time.
You can read all the posts from my Van Gogh trip below:
- Following the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh
- Visiting Kröller-Müller Museum
- Vincent Van Gogh in the Netherlands
- Vincent Van Gogh in Belgium
- Vincent Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise
- Vincent Van Gogh in Arles
- Vincent Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
My journey to places linked to Vincent’s life in Paris was supported and organised by the Van Gogh Europe. Many thanks to them and my lovely guide Ana for showing me around.