World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Paul Gachet

Paul Gachet

Paul-Ferdinand Gachet (30 July 1828 – 9 January 1909) was a French physician most famous for treating the painter Vincent van Gogh during his last weeks in Auvers-sur-Oise. Gachet was a great supporter of artists and the Impressionist movement. In fact, he himself was an amateur painter, signing his works "Paul van Ryssel", referring to his birthplace: Gachet came "from" (Dutch: "van") "Ryssel" (actually Rijssel) – the Dutch name of Lille.[1]


  • Biography 1
  • Gachet and Vincent van Gogh 2
  • Subject in art 3
  • References 4
    • Notes 4.1
    • Resources 4.2


Born and raised in Lille, his family moved to Mechelen, where Gachet's father was transferred to in 1844/1845 to start a new branch of the firm he was working for.[2]

He qualified for a B.A. at the University of Paris and then worked at the mental hospitals of Bicêtre and Salpêtrière. His teachers included Armand Trousseau. In 1858 he received a medical degree for his thesis Étude sur la Mélancolie (Éditeur du Montpellier Médecal).

He returned to Paris and set up a private practice. He knew Gustave Courbet, Champfleury, Victor Hugo and later Paul Cézanne. He was a friend of the chemist Henri Nestlé and prescribed Nestlé's new powdered milk supplement to some of his child patients.

He spent much time with Charles Méryon after the etcher's committal to Charenton. He oversaw Auguste Renoir's recovery from pneumonia in 1882. He advised Édouard Manet against the amputation of his leg. However, Manet did not follow this advice.

Gachet's tomb is situated in section 52 of Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.[3]

Gachet and Vincent van Gogh

Vincent's brother, Theo van Gogh, thought that Gachet's background and sensitivity toward artists would make him an ideal doctor for Vincent during his recovery. Very soon after he began seeing Gachet, however, Vincent began to doubt the doctor's usefulness.[4] Vincent described Gachet as: "sicker than I am, I think, or shall we say just as much".

Gachet has come in for much criticism over the years regarding Van Gogh's suicide after ten weeks of consultation. However Van Gogh was either unable or unwilling to follow his doctors' advice to cut back on alcohol and smoking. According to Arnold, "there was not much else available to any physician of the day which could have reversed the course of Vincent's illness."[5] And he summarizes the medical treatment that Van Gogh received from his various doctors thus: "The overall assessment is rather that they did as well as expected with an unfamiliar disease and a difficult patient."[6]

Subject in art

Gachet was friends with and treated Pissarro, Renoir, Manet, Cézanne and Goeneutte, to name just a few. He had amassed one of the largest impressionist art collections in Europe before he died in 1909. Gachet, his wife and his home were the subjects of several pieces of art by celebrated artists including:[7]



  1. ^ Therefore, Gachet's son Paul-Louis signed Louis van Ryssel
  2. ^ A vast chronology of Doctor Gachet's life compiled by his son, is supplied in Distel, Anne and Stein, Susan Alyson (1999) Cézanne to Van Gogh: The Collection of Doctor Gachet, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, ISBN 0-87099-903-6, pp. 273–288
  3. ^ "Paul Gachet (1828–1909) – Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Letter "Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, Auvers-sur-Oise, 10 July 1890". 
  5. ^ Arnold, Wilfred N. (1992) Vincent van Gogh: Chemicals, Crises, and Creativity, Birkhãuser, Boston, ISBN 0-8176-3616-1, p. 66
  6. ^ Arnold, work cited, page 216. Arnold assumes his own diagnosis of acute intermittent porphyria
  7. ^ "Who is Dr Gachet". 


  • (French) Biographical note by Jacqueline Sonolet and Paul Gachet's works digitized by the BIUM (Bibliothèque interuniversitaire de médecine et d'odontologie, Paris), see its digital library Medic@.
  • Photographs of Gachet's tomb in Pere Lachaise Cemetery – (Findagrave)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.