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Post by Jac » Tue, 29 Jun 1999 04:00:00

All previous Provence posts are on

The place Lamartine was an important square for Van Gogh: there was
the yellow house next to the grocery of Crevoulin and behind that the
Cafe de la Gare of the couple Ginoux, with who he was friends. In the
rue Montagne des Cordes, just after the railway viaduct, lived the
mailman Roulin, who gave him his warm friendship. Van Gogh also often
represented him, sometimes with his whole family, the baby Marcelle
included (Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam). All this simple and plain
people became priceless thanks to the paintings Van Gogh made of them.
The same for Madame Ginoux, who became world famous in the role of
According to a drawing "Pleasure garden with Vincent's house in the
background" (Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam), we understand that where
we stand now there used to be a pond with garden around. The same
theme will be recurrent in works at the museum Kroller-Muller and the
Phillips Collection in Washington. If we turn our look with reluctance
to the right and rest it on the Monoprix, we need some fantasy to
imagine that there used to stand the famous "Night Cafe" (Yale
University Art Gallery, New Haven) and where Vincent painted that sad
pool-hall. .
Let's get back to the Rhone embankment and look over the river. About
the place we stand now, he painted the superb and extraordinary
"Starry Night".

Let's go now to the famous arenas of Arles. Dating from the end of the
first century, the arenas are the showpiece of Arles. In it's highest
glory days it could contain about 20,000 spectators! The exterior
walls are very impressive. After the departure of the Romans, it
served as a fortification wall for a small village with 200 houses and
two chapels.
In 1825 the dismantling of the inside of the arenas was a fact. Only 3
out of the four medieval watchtowers remained and today it still
serves for performances, corridas, shows and can contain 20,000

The antique theater is less well conserved than the arenas, but merits
your visit. It is a century older than the arenas and dates probably
from 25 BC, the first years of the reign of Augustus. Which means that
it is a pure product of the old Greek culture and not the brutal
massivity of the later arena with its coercive arches and dictatorial
walls where a lot of *** was spilled.
The antique theater could receive about 12.000 visitors but still
bears the signs of a brilliant Mediterranean culture to a level of
elegance that the Romans had no idea of. A perfect example of Roman
achievement being the Roman arena representing a pure symbol of will
of power, power for eternity! At that time, Arles was very prosperous,
thanks to his geographic situation on the commercial roads to the
Standing there in the antique theater be aware that the tiers were
partly restored but the pavements of the orchestra are still original.
It is still used for the festival of Arles.

Next post Arles:  the church of Saint-Trophime and cloister.


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