On the evening of Sunday, February 19, 1888, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), a would-be painter who had never sold anything and who had been receiving his entire financial support from his younger brother Theo for the past several years, left Paris on a train bound for the Midi, Provence. His specific destination was Arles, a town of 23,000 inhabitants situated on the Rhone some 480 miles south of Paris and 25 miles north of the Mediterranean. His health that winter had not been good. He had been drinking and smoking excessively, and he found the cold, darkness, fog, snow, and rain of the Paris winter intolerable. By going south he hoped for sun and warmth; more than ever, he wished to make a fresh start, yet another “new beginning,” or, as he put it, “a rebirth.”
Southgate MT. Vincent van Gogh, Madame Roulin With Baby. JAMA. 1985;254(24):3400–3488. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360240010001
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