Readers have commented that they would have liked illustrations for Leaving Van Gogh. Sadly, they would have made the book too expensive. But I’ve collected the key images here, so you can scroll down to see them as Dr. Gachet does.
Above is the Portrait of Père Tanguy mentioned on p. 41 of the novel. Narrator Dr. Gachet comments, “I had never seen brushwork like this.” The original is at the Musée Rodin in Paris.
A few pages later, on page 44, Dr. Gachet gets a look at The Tarascon Diligence, above. He says, “…the canvas crackled with heat. Green and red and black sizzled against each other…” The original is currently on view at the Princeton University Art Museum.
Fritillaries in a Copper Vase is at the Musée d’Orsay. In Leaving Van Gogh, Theo calls this painting the product of “a moment when [Vincent] was fascinated by Impressionist techniques.”
The Night Café is the next painting Dr. Gachet sees in that scene (p. 45), and he finds it very disturbing. The original is at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven and you can get close enough to see, as Dr. Gachet does in Leaving Van Gogh, that the lamps are almost built out from the canvas with paint.
In the same scene, there is a Sunflowers canvas as well: “The entire painting was yellow: primrose and mustard and egg yolk, ocher and daffodil and straw,” says Dr. Gachet. This original is in London’s National Gallery.
This is the first Portrait of Dr. Gachet, which appears on p. 55 and following. The location of the original is not known. The doctor commented, “Vincent used my features to create a portrait of world-weariness.”
On page 83, Gachet mentions Blossoming Chestnut Branches, which he calls “strikingly beautiful.” The original is in the Foundation E. G. Bührle Collection in Zurich.
The Church at Auvers is one of the most important paintings Van Gogh created while he was in Auvers. Dr. Gachet gets his first look at it on page 86, and is struck by the way “the stonework of the church, so rigid in life, became flexible under Vincent’s brush.” The painting was in the Gachet family until 1951 when the doctor’s son, Paul Gachet, gave it to the Louvre. It is now at the Musée d’Orsay.
Van Gogh painted at Dr. Gachet’s house several times as the two became friends. Here is his canvas of Marguerite Gachet in the doctor’s garden, which Theo admires on page 87. Like The Church at Auvers, Marguerite Gachet in the Garden stayed with the Gachet family until entering the Louvre as a gift in 1954, and it, too, is in the Musée d’Orsay.
Marguerite Gachet at the Piano is the centerpiece of a scene in Leaving Van Gogh that runs from pages 93-102. Being painted by Vincent Van Gogh must have been a landmark moment in the life of this very quiet woman, who never married and lived with her brother Paul in the Auvers house until her death in 1949. The painting, sold in 1934 to the Kunstmuseum Basel, hung on Marguerite’s bedroom wall for 44 years.
On a visit to Theo and Johanna Van Gogh’s Montmartre apartment on page 139, Dr. Gachet sees the beautiful Almond Blossom. Vincent painted it as a gift to his new nephew, Vincent Willem Van Gogh. This is the painting used on the jacket of Leaving Van Gogh, and the original is now in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Wheat Field with Crows was one of Van Gogh’s last canvases, painted in the wheat fields that still surround Auvers, and on page 219 Dr. Gachet finds it “ominous.” The painting is now at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.