“UNSTABLE RELATIONSHIPS”

Vincent van Gogh’s relationships with the other Impressionist painters were very unstable. In all cases, his tragic death was a turning point that marked a before and an after. For example, his relationship with Rochechouart, which from the beginning was one of frank enmity, softened a lot after van Gogh’s decease. On the contrary, his friendship with Toulouse-Lautrec, which had been extremely close during his lifetime, became turbulent after his passing. On the other hand, Gauguin’s love-hate relationship with van Gogh was abruptly interrupted as a result of his death and they never spoke to each other again. It is speculated that Gauguin felt a sense of guilt when he learned of van Gogh’s suicide, as he had already felt when he learned that his friend had cut off his ear, and even earlier, when one day both were walking through the countryside and van Gogh stumbled upon a stone and got scratched on his knee. Maybe Gauguin had placed the stone there expressly so that his friend would stumble. In any case, when van Gogh filed the complaint at the police station, he did not mention any name. However, he always had accused Gauguin of following him to install his easel in the middle of the landscape that van Gogh intended to paint, as if Provence was not big enough for the two to install their easels away from each other. On one occasion, when van Gogh was about to paint a bunch of sunflowers, Gauguin appeared and set his easel up under his very nose, motivating that a painting that was going to be called “Bunch of sunflowers” ended up being called “Back of Gauguin painting”.

However, as I have already pointed out, Rochechouart and Toulouse-Lautrec did not break contact with van Gogh after his death. Both of them jointly held periodical séances with a Parisian medium who acted as an intermediary not only between both and van Gogh but also between each other because they didn’t get along from a ridiculous incident at the Moulin Rouge. It happened that Lautrec was sitting at a table making a sketch of a chorus line of female dancers when suddenly Rochechouart burst on the scene dancing can-can and thus spoiled the sketch. This sort of interference due to artistic jealousy was frequent among painters, but also among writers. Gerard de Nerval (who also took his own life as van Gogh) was writing a passage of his beautiful novel “Amelie” when suddenly the two Goncourt brothers slipped into it making faces at the reader and ruining all the charm of the story. However, Nerval got revenge on them posing as a lion tamer in one of their novels (both wrote together, four-handed) and opening the lion cage at the most unexpected moment, with the result that the main characters ended up eaten by the beasts. From that point on, the novel continues aimlessly until the outcome in which, because of the lack of characters, the Goncourt brothers just do a detailed description of the landscape that initially had to serve only as a backdrop.


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