Houses at Auvers, 1890 by Vincent Van Gogh

In May 1890, van Gogh moved from the south of France to Auvers, northwest of Paris, painting many of his finest pictures there in a feverish spurt of activity before his suicide in July. Houses at Auvers shows the landscape of early summer. The view from above creates a flattened tapestry of shapes in which the tiled and thatched roofs of the houses form a mesmerizing patchwork of color.

Van Gogh wrote his brother, Theo, and Theo's wife after his arrival in Auvers on 20 May 1890: "Auvers is very beautiful, among other things a lot of old thatched roofs, which are getting rare...for really it is profoundly beautiful, it is the real country, characteristic and picturesque," Indeed, Vincent's first letters to his brother Theo from Auvers-sur-Oise were cautiously optimistic. His health was good, and he found his room comfortable. The village had a picturesque appeal; even the new homes were "radiant and sunny and covered with flowers." Unlike the writhing rhythms that characterized his landscape work at Saint-Rémy, Vincent van Gogh's first paintings at Auvers, Houses at Auvers, exhibited a new stability, seen in the strongly interlocked strokes of heavy pigment.