For just nine weeks, in late 1888, Van Gogh and Gauguin share a home, The Yellow House, in Arles, southern France.
Approaching middle age and still flat broke, both men abandon respectability, family and friends to commit themselves utterly to painting, united by an unshakable belief in the importance of art.
They endure what most people would find intolerable – loneliness, insecurity, and the total lack of any financial or worldly comfort. Their last hope is each other, if only they can get along.
Gauguin fears Van Gogh is on the brink of a psychological meltdown. Van Gogh claims Gauguin puts too much salt in the stew. They drink, they argue, but most of all they paint together, sharing a ferocious obsession.
In this brief period of penniless, fraught obscurity they produce between them over 40 acknowledged masterpieces, with a combined current value of almost a billion pounds. The relationship finally ends in an iconic and bloody climax, when Van Gogh cuts off his own ear.
Eighteen months after leaving The Yellow House, Van Gogh shot himself, bleeding to death over several days. Years later, Gauguin died, a syphilitic, in self-imposed exile in Tahiti.