Gypsy Camp near Arles, 1888 by Vincent Van Gogh

There was a long tradition of gypsies living in the area surrounding Arles and into the wilds of the Camargue, and Van Gogh would have been drown to what he perceived as their romantic and exotic life. The brilliant colours he painted them in parallels their rich and exciting culture, which was one that spanned many hundreds of gears.

There is an analogy to be drawn also between the gypsy and their isolated existence beyond the frame of a static community such as the town, and Van Gogh's own exclusion from the social network within Arles. His strange behaviour, and at times bizarre appearance had quickly set him apart from the conservative rural community, who were later instrumental in the artist leaving Arles. Van Gogh longed for the company of other artists and like-minded people, and felt totally cut off in Arles. He kept in touch with the art scene in Paris through his brother Theo, and corresponded with some of his artist friends including Paul Gauguin and Bernard, but the lack of social contact heightened his despondency and depression.