Hospital of Saint-Paul, 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh

The original buildings of the asylum dated back to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and were built to house on Augustine monastery. Over the years the building was added to and modified, and in the nineteenth century when the monastery was converted to the asylum two wings were added to either side of the main building. The facade that Van Gogh painted in this picture shows an elegant front with traditional French shutters and a 'classicized' portico.

It is apainting of a fine looking house and garden in pleasant settings, and even the smart figure in the foreground has something of the air of a country gentleman. The painting was strange in relation to Van Gogh's particularly unhappy period during the time it was painted. Compared to many of his paintings of this time there is little of the obvious anguish and turmoil that one would expect, especially in relation to the subject of the hospital, which itself was causing him such misery. What is apparent in the picture is a sense of oppressiveness, though in a more understated manner than was usual for the artist.