Van Gogh in Brussels, Belgium
- July 16, 1878 - July 17, 1878
- August 26, 1878 - November 30, 1878
- October 1, 1880 - April 30, 1881
- August 3, 1879
In 1877 and 1878, Vincent had prepared for a university theology course in Amsterdam without success. He had given up on the idea of becoming a minister but was determined to preach, and he decided to train at the Flemish evangelism school in Brussels. The course was much shorter than a theology degree, and the requirements were less strict. On 16 and 17 July 1878, Vincent took a fact-finding trip to Brussels with his father and the Rev Slade-Jones (with whom Vincent had worked in Isleworth). Vincent favourably impressed the people he met, and a month later, he embarked on a three-month trial course at the Flemish training school for evangelists in Brussels, lodging with the Plugge family. Vincent was not accepted for the next stage of training, however, and he left the city to preach in the Borinage mining region.
After living under harsh conditions in the Borinage, Vincent decided to follow his heart and throw himself into his artistic work. His desire to be around art and artists was so great that he felt unable to remain in the countryside and returned to the urban milieu of Brussels. Through his brother Theo and Tobias Victor Schmidt, the manager of Goupil & Cie in Brussels, Vincent met artists such as Willem Roelofs (1822–1897) and Anthon Gerhard Alexander van Rappard (1858–1892). He became good friends with Van Rappard and worked in his studio for a while. He also enrolled on a course at the art academy.
Vincent was clear about his objective: to learn as quickly as possible to produce drawings he could exhibit and sell so that he could derive an income from his work. He was particularly interested in the study of anatomy. He began to contemplate becoming an illustrator for books and newspapers. His father and Theo sent him money to live on. After Van Rappard left the city, Vincent no longer had a studio to work in, and he decided to spend the summer of 1881 in Etten with his parents.