Comparatively speaking — can we link together whatever we want to link together?
The creativity of Vincent Van Gogh is world renowned, but it wasn’t until he reached Arles that his real genius flourished. In a little over two years, he discovered light. He went on to produce more paintings during this period, than at any other time in his career.
But which Arles? Are we talking the south of France or maybe, we are in rural Ireland? Of course, it’s the wine producing area of France, but its namesake is a little village with a church, the all-important graveyard, a school, one pub and lots of fields.
So, my aim is to make a link. Do we have any famous sons or daughters from this small hamlet on the Emerald Isle, I hear you ask? Well actually, one of the descendants of the town’s earliest founders moved to America, founded the ‘Green Line Shipping Company’ and became Mayor of New York. And here’s the connection — he was the person who received the Statue of Liberty from — drum roll — yes, France.
His family also offered the people of Laois, Carlow and Kilkenny the chance to go to South America, where he would guarantee them work. Where could they go? Peru? Chile? Set up in Santiago — then jump on a boat over to Tahiti?
I guess this is what Gauguin did — to get away from that one-eared madman, in the south of France.
Meanwhile, back in Whitechapel, East London, Jack the Ripper (1888) was creating his fame, and although van Gogh lived further south in Brixton (1876), for a short while — how strange it would have been if their paths crossed?
Patricia Cornwell suggests in her book, ‘Casebook: Jack the Ripper’, that he was also a painter. In fact, she goes as far to accuse Walter Sickert of being the serial killer that has dumbfounded history for more than a century.
Walter even had a portrait named “Jack the Rippers bedroom” — spooky eh.