Vincent van Gogh & the Netherlands
With the recent release of the film "Loving Vincent", Vincent van Gogh’s story has once again come into focus. And what a story it is. Did you know that he created over 1.800 paintings and drawings in just over a decade?
Vincent van Gogh was born in 1853 in the Netherlands. Not only did he grow up here, but he also spent half of his career here. So, it is no surprise that the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh artworks can be found in the Netherlands, at the aptly named Van Gogh Museum.
Vincent’s personal life was interesting, to say the least, and it affected his art a lot. So did his surroundings. Here is a guide featuring all the places in the Netherlands that have ties with this famous Dutch Post-Impressionist painter.
Childhood in Brabant
Vincent was born in Zundert in 1853 and spent his childhood in Brabant, in the south of the country.
The house in which he was born can still be seen today in Zundert. Nowadays, it’s a museum where you can learn about his life and work.
After being home-schooled, young Vincent went to school in nearby Tilburg. Vincent’s classroom, which includes an art room, was reconstructed at the Tilburg City Museum. Both children and adults can practice their drawing skills there.
A year in Amsterdam
In 1877, Vincent spent a year in Amsterdam to prepare for the University of Amsterdam's theology entrance examination. In his letters, Vincent often wrote about his admiration for the city. After he failed the exam, he moved back in with his parents.
When he visited Amsterdam again in 1885, he visited the newly built Rijksmuseum. The famous Dutch Golden Age paintings became a huge inspiration for his later work.
Brabant and The Hague
Vincent van Gogh spent his first years as a painter in the Brabant region and The Hague.
When Vincent decided to become a painter in 1881, he moved in with his parents in Etten. You can find the Vincent van Gogh Info Centre in the old church, where his father was serving as a pastor. It’s the perfect place to start exploring Vincent’s early years as a painter.
After he started his painting career, Vincent spent some time in Anton Mauve’s art studio in The Hague. Mauve was his mentor, but not for long. After Mauve learned about Vincent’s relationship with prostitute Sien, he stopped teaching him. The relationship wasn’t accepted by his parents either. So, after some time, Vincent left Sien and The Hague, and in 1883, he moved back in with his parents.
Vincent lived in Nuenen for two years, from 1883 to 1885. During this time, he mostly painted landscapes, but he was also inspired by the local peasants and their life. In this period, Vincent created around 200 oil paintings and many more watercolours and drawings. His “Potato Eaters” is the most famous painting amongst them.
Today, there is an outdoor museum with 23 locations related to Vincent’s life in Nuenen; 14 of these locations he has painted or sketched.
You can admire the works of Vincent van Gogh at the following Dutch museums:
Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is home to the world’s largest collection of Vincent’s artwork. Some 200 paintings, 1.000 drawings and sketches, and around 800 letters he wrote can be found there. It’s a wonderful place to learn about his life and art.
Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo
The museum with the second largest collection of Vincent’s paintings is also located in the Netherlands. Mrs and Mr Kröller-Müller were amongst the first admirers of Vincent's work and started to buy his paintings shortly after his death. Today, you can find around 200 of his artworks in the museum in Otterlo.
Het Noordbrabants Museum in ‘s-Hertogenbosch
The third museum, Het Noordbrabants Museum, has a much smaller, but still very interesting collection of Vincent’s paintings. It’s also quite special because it’s the only place in the Brabant region where some of his original paintings can be seen.
Inspired by Vincent
Vincent van Gogh has inspired countless of other artists over the years. Close to the city of Eindhoven, artist Daan Roosegaarde has created a cycle path inspired by Vincent’s painting "Starry Night". It’s made of twinkling coloured stones. The path runs between two windmills, Opwettense Watermolen and Collse Watermolen, which were subjects of his paintings, as well.
There are so many places in the Netherlands where you can learn about Vincent van Gogh or where you can see some of his very famous paintings. Have you visited any of them? What are your favourites?