In the last year of his life, Van Gogh created at least two paintings containing the church in Auvers, The Church at Auvers which he painted in June of 1890 and View of Auvers with Church which he painted in July of 1890 are two of those. After his stay in the psychiatric hospital in Saint-Remy de Provence, Van Gogh settled in Auvers-sur-Oise a village in the outskirts of Paris on May 12, 1890. During this time, he was still suffering from mental illness and emotional instability which might explain the dark and gloomy feel of his painting, The Church at Auvers.
The Church at Auvers is Van Gogh’s only painting of the church in its entirety. He seems to portray it as a place of doom and gloom with dark windows reflecting the dark sky and not radiating any light from within. The shaky church even seems to sit in its own shadow. Van Gogh wrote to his sister, Wilhelmina about the painting on June 5, 1890 comparing it to his painting of the Old Tower Church in Nuenen,
“Apart from these I have a larger picture of the village church – an effect in which the building appears to be violet-hued against a sky of simple deep blue colour, pure cobalt; the stained-glass windows appear as ultramarine blotches, the roof is violet and partly orange. In the foreground some green plants in bloom, and sand with the pink flow of sunshine in it. And once again it is nearly the same thing as the studies I did in Nuenen of the old tower and the cemetery, only it is probably that now the colour is more expressive, more sumptuous.”
Other images of the church may be distinguished in the background of views of the village. In View of Auvers with Church the depiction is obvious.
View of Auvers with Church is owned and located at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art in Providence, Rhode Island, United States. The Church at Auvers is located at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris France.