There’s so much to discover about Van Gogh’s life in London.
Though Vincent Van Gogh is often associated with the Netherlands — his country of birth and home of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which houses his biggest collection of artworks — the artist actually spent several years living and working in London in the early 1870s. Therefore, art lovers and Van Gogh fans don’t need to travel to Holland or France (where he spent the last years of his life) to learn more about the artist and his work. From a tour of his south London home to collections of his art, here are some of the best things to do for Van Gogh lovers in and around London:
An immersive exhibition dedicated to Van Gogh and his incredible art has just landed in London, and it looks simply spectacular. Visitors can step inside a world of sunflowers and starry nights, immersing themselves fully in the 360° digital art experience. The gorgeous Spitalfields venue, a former horse and carriage repository, has been transformed into a multisensory canvas, brought to life with Van Gogh’s masterpieces by projectors, screens, and high-tech VR technology. The exhibition is a must-visit for fans and art lovers in general, and you can find your tickets here.
If you’re looking for a bite to eat before or after the Van Gogh exhibition, we have the perfect package for you: This artsy afternoon tea at Hotel Café Royal’s Oscar Wilde Lounge promises a ‘magical tasting journey through Van Gogh’s most famous artworks’, serving beautiful dishes inspired by the artist (which, TBH, are almost too pretty to eat!). Find your tickets for the afternoon tea and immersive experience here.
3. Visit Van Gogh’s house in south London
Behind this unassuming facade lies more than your average south London house. At 87 Hackford Road, you’ll find the Brixton home where Vincent lived between 1873 to 1874. The house is now used for artist residencies, guided tours, exhibitions, and events, and you can visit it on the last Saturday and Sunday of each month. Learn about Van Gogh’s life and legacy by getting a glimpse into the space he inhabited nearly 150 years ago. Find more info here, and see the house on Google Maps.
4. Embark on a guided walking tour following Van Gogh’s footsteps in 1870s London
If you’d like to spend a day in Van Gogh’s shoes, sign up for the ‘In Vincent’s Footsteps’ walking tour. It covers the 3½ mile journey walked frequently by Van Gogh in the early 1870s, retracing his steps from his office in Covent Garden to his house at 87 Hackford Road. The tour ends with a showing of his house in Brixton, so it’s the perfect package if you want the whole experience. Find more info here.
5. Or go on a peaceful, self-guided audio tour inspired by the artist and his struggles
If you’d rather walk and discover at your own pace, you can opt for a self-guided audio tour called ‘At the Crossroads with Vincent’. In fact, you can listen to it from anywhere in the world, but if you’re in London anyway, we suggest you have a wander around Van Gogh’s Brixton neighborhood which features many nods to the artist. The recording tells the story of a tough time in Vincent’s life, when he battled depression, the loss of his job, and ultimately, his house. You can learn more about the tour and give it a listen here.
6. See a bunch of his most famous paintings at The National Gallery
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam might have the biggest collection of his art, but that doesn’t mean you can’t admire some of it here. The National Gallery has a lovely selection of Van Gogh’s paintings on display in Room 43, in addition to pieces by Seurat and Gauguin. Among the famous paintings you’ll find Van Gogh’s ‘A Wheatfield, with Cypresses’, ‘Sunflowers’, ‘Van Gogh’s Chair’, ‘Head of a Peasant Woman’, to name just a few. Find more info here.
7. Or marvel at Van Gogh’s ‘Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear’ at The Courtauld
One iconic painting The National Gallery is missing is Vincent’s world-famous ‘Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear’ from 1889, which you can find at The Courtauld. Van Gogh painted his own reflection a week after leaving the hospital he was treated at after deliberately cutting off most of his left ear. It’s a painting you won’t want to miss, and you can learn more about it here.
8. Finally, in August, visit a beautiful sunflower field near London and recreate Van Gogh’s masterpiece
Van Gogh has surely given us a special appreciation of sunflowers, and it’s hard not to fill up with joy when surrounded by a sea of the yellow beauties. For a peaceful wander or a creative photo session, head to one of these gorgeous sunflower fields in the UK when they’re in full bloom in August — they may even inspire you to start painting yourself.