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Thatched Cottages at Cordeville

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Oil on canvas
72.0 x 91.0 cm.
Auvers-sur-Oise: June, 1890
F 792, JH 1987

Paris: Musee d'Orsay


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After more than a year in voluntary confinement at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy, France, Vincent van Gogh moved to the village of Auvers-sur-Oise on 20 May 1890. With Auvers' proximity to Paris, Van Gogh would be much closer to his brother Theo as well as Theo's wife, Johanna, and their newborn son. Van Gogh also felt reassured (at least initially) that he would be under the capable care of the homeopathic physician Dr. Paul Gachet.

Upon his arrival in Auvers, Van Gogh was immediately delighted with its environs. On the day of his arrival he wrote to Theo and Johanna in Paris with great enthusiasm:

Auvers is really beautiful – among other things many old thatched roofs, which are becoming rare.

I’d hope, then, that in doing a few canvases of that really seriously, there would be a chance of recouping some of the costs of my stay – for really it’s gravely beautiful, it’s the heart of the countryside, distinctive and picturesque.

Letter 635

Van Gogh also wrote to his sister Willemien about his pleasure with the Auvers countryside:

And as for myself, for the moment I still fear the noise and the bustle of Paris and I left immediately for the country – to an old village.

Here there are roofs of mossy thatch which are superb, and of which I’ll certainly do something.

Letter W21

Van Gogh would delight in his exploration of Auvers-sur-Oise and in June he would write to Theo and Jo "I’ve done two studies of houses in the greenery" (Letter 640). It's uncertain if Van Gogh was referring specifically to Thatched Cottages at Cordeville (the other candidates being Houses in Auvers: both F 759 and F 805). Whatever the case, Van Gogh's enthusiasm for the subject is clear and he undertook the painting of this cottage in Cordeville, a small hamlet near Auvers, with great passion.

In a number of earlier works Van Gogh would brilliantly use contrasting colours to bring vibrant life to his canvases. In Thatched Cottages at Cordeville, however, one sees a harmonious symphony of blues and greens. The lush fields flow like a gently rolling ocean and the bushes adjacent to the cottage move with flame-like fluidity. Even the cottage itself seamlessly blends into the landscape--an integral and organic wholeness that makes this painting so remarkable.


Thatched Cottages at Cordeville figures prominently in Frank Herbert's Dune science fiction series. The painting is one of the only objects to survive from Earth. In Hunters of Dune (written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson) the work is mentioned once again. The following passage is set more than 26,000 years in the future:

The Van Gogh painting hung on a metal wall of Sheeana's cabin. She had stolen the masterpiece from the Mother Superior's quarters before escaping from Chapterhouse. Of all the crimes she had committed during her flight, taking the Van Gogh was her only selfish and unjustified act. For years, she had drawn comfort from this great work of art and everything it represented.

With the glowpanels adjusted to perfect illumination, Sheeana stood unblinking before the masterpiece. Though she had studied the painting meticulously many times, she still gained new insight from the daubs of bright paint, the thick brushstrokes, the chaotic flurry of creative energy. A deeply disturbed man, Van Gogh had turned these splotches and smudges of color into a work of genius. Could pure, cold sanity have done as much?

Thatched Cottages at Cordeville had survived the atomic destruction of Earth ages ago, the Butlerian Jihad and ensuing dark ages, then Muad'Dib's Jihad, thirty-five hundred years of the Tyrant's rule, the Famine Times, and the Scattering. Without doubt, this fragile piece of art was blessed.

(page 201)


Owner City Country Date acquired
Paul Ferd. Gachet Auvers-sur-Oise France 1890
Paul Gachet Auvers-sur-Oise France 1909
Musée National du Louvre Paris France 1954
Musée d'Orsay Paris France


Year City Country Venue Exhibition Name Start Date End Date No.
1905 Paris France Grandes Serres de l'Alma Exposition de la Société des Artistes Indépendants, 21e exposition: Exposition rétrospective Vincent van Gogh 24 March 1905 30 April 1905 21
1905 Amsterdam Netherlands Stedelijk Museum Tentoonstelling Vincent van Gogh 15 July 1905 1 August 1905 229b
1947-48 London United Kingdom Tate Gallery Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890 10 December 1947 14 January 1948 92
1948 Birmingham United Kingdom City Art Gallery Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890 24 January 1948 14 February 1948 92
1948 Glasgow Scotland Art Gallery Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890 21 February 1948 14 March 1948 92
1954-55 Paris France L'Orangerie des Tuileries Van Gogh et les peintres d'Auvers-sur-Oise 26 November 1954 28 February 1954 47
1990 Amsterdam Netherlands Van Gogh Museum Vincent van Gogh. Schilderijen 30 March 1990 29 July 1990 118
1999 Amsterdam (2) Netherlands Van Gogh Museum From Cézanne to Van Gogh: The Collection of Dr. Gachet 24 September 1999 5 December 1999 19

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