Top 5 Things to Know About Van Gogh’s Apartment

Make sure to read our article Top 10 Things To Do in Montmartre before you start walking around Montmartre. This article covers you the best places to visit and gives you some great advice to make the most of your Paris trip.

Vincent Van Gogh is considered to be one of the most important figures in post-impressionist painting, if not in Western art in general. He is a household name who is recognized for his talent all around the world!

Van Gogh may have lived a pretty tumultuous personal life (chopping off your own ear, anyone?), but that shouldn’t take away from his artistic talent. The artist was born in the Netherlands and lived there for most of his young life before moving to Paris in 1886. He spent the rest of his life in France until his untimely death at just 37 years old.

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Van Gogh's apartment map

Van Gogh’s apartment map

Van Gogh lived in two different apartments in the city, and I’m going to be talking about the apartment he shared with his brother at 54 rue Lepic in Montmartre! Keep reading for the top 5 things to know about Van Gogh’s apartment.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION:
ADDRESS: 54 RUE LEPIC, 75018 PARIS
METRO STATION: ABBESSES / BLANCHE / LAMARCK – CAULAINCOURT

1. The apartment is located in Montmartre

rue Lepic in Montmartre in 1965

rue Lepic in Montmartre in 1965 by Willem van de Poll – WikiCommons

Montmartre was an artists haven in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the northern Paris neighborhood is more of a tourism hotspot, but there are still plenty of museums, art galleries, and studios in the area as well.

Another thing about Montmartre that may have attracted Van Gogh at the time? The rents were very inexpensive, as was the cost of living. It used to be possible to live in Montmartre on a budget, although that is sadly not the case today! That being said, Montmartre is definitely my Parisian dream neighborhood, and I really hope to live there one day.

Like most artists, Van Gogh was not very appreciated in his lifetime. Many in the art world were shocked by his use of color and his abstract renditions of real life. Today, we may to think, “those art critics were crazy! Of course Van Gogh’s work is amazing!” But that truly wasn’t the case in the late 19th century.

Montmartre was an area where Van Gogh could live inexpensively while continuing to work on his craft.

2. Van Gogh lived there with his brother Theo

Plaque

Inscription outside of the apartment which states “Vincent Van Gogh lived in this house with his brother Theo from 1886 to 1888” – Flickr

It was actually Van Gogh’s brother, Theo Van Gogh, that invited him to come and live in Montmartre in 1886. Van Gogh had just underwent treatment for his heavy drinking, and Theo thought that he deserved a fresh start in Paris.

Unfortunately, when Van Gogh first arrived he and Theo did not get along well. Theo thought that Vincent was lazy and messy, and he was often embarrassed by the state of the apartment. Van Gogh was also constantly entertaining visitors, which grew tiresome for Theo. Theo even wrote to their sister that he hoped that Van Gogh would move out, but he didn’t dare tell him so.

Eventually, their relationship improved. Theo grew to appreciate Vincent’s presence and wanted him to stay in Montmartre with him. Despite this, Van Gogh ached to be somewhere in the countryside where he could focus on painting nature and landscapes.

3. Van Gogh lived in the apartment for under 2 years

Overlooking the rooftops of Paris

“Overlooking the rooftops of Paris” by Vincent Van Gogh, painted while Van Gogh was living in his Montmartre apartment – WikiCommons

Vincent Van Gogh lived in the rue Lepic apartment for just 2 years before deciding to move to the South of France.

Before heading to the country for some peace and warmer weather, Van Gogh tried to soak in everything that the Parisian art world had to offer. He began painting at fellow painter Fernand Cormon’s atelier and studio, where he met several other art students. This included Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, John Peter Russell, and Émile Bernard.

He also met other artists such as Paul Signac and Paul Gaugin. Van Gogh moved out of the Montmartre house to the suburb of Asnières, which is located to the north-west of Paris. After Van Gogh moved out, his relationship with his brother Theo improved drastically. Although the brothers had found a good equilibrium, it didn’t change the fact that by 1888 Van Gogh was ready to move away from the capital.

When living in Paris, Van Gogh produced over 200 paintings in just 2 years! It should come as no surprise that he was ready to take a break from the city life and move elsewhere.

4. Van Gogh painted the view from the apartment’s window

View of Paris from Vincent's Room in the Rue Lepic

“View of Paris from Vincent’s Room in the Rue Lepic” by Vincent Van Gogh – WikiCommons

When living in the rue Lepic house, Van Gogh painted many scenes that depicted Montmartre at the time. This included two paintings that showed the view from his bedroom window.

He also had a small studio in the apartment. It was here that he would finish up paintings of the Montmartre streets and windmills that he began outside the apartment. Van Gogh actually preferred to use the room designated as his bedroom as his art studio. He slept in a small closet that was dubbed “the cabinet”!

5. Van Gogh worked using Neo-Impressionist techniques when he lived in the apartment

As I mentioned above, Van Gogh was not appreciated for his art when he was alive. When he was living in the Montmartre apartment, his paintings were done using mostly Neo-Impressionist and Pointillism techniques.

Self-portrait

“Self-portrait” by Vincent Van Gogh using the Pointillism technique, 1887 – WikiCommons

Neo-Impressionism appeared in the art world in 1886 by French artist Georges Seurat. The style focused on urban scenes as well as landscapes. It was revolutionary for its time, and many critics disliked it in the beginning. Pointillism was a facet of Neo-Impressionism that used a technique of painting many small dots in order to produce figures or landscapes.

Van Gogh was fond of these techniques, and began to use them when he was living at 54 rue Lepic.

Conclusion

Now you know the top 5 things to know about Van Gogh’s Montmartre apartment! Have you read up on Van Gogh’s time in Paris before? Did you learn something new from this article? I hope so!

If you want to learn even more about Van Gogh, Montmartre, and Paris, I invite you to click here to learn more about our walking tour options in the French capital! Our guides are local Parisians that love sharing everything they know and love about the city with you. Well…what are you waiting for?! Get clicking!