On 1 November 1880, Vincent wrote to his brother Theo that he had gone to see the Dutch artist Willem Roelofs (1822–1897) on Theo’s advice. Roelofs, who had lived in Brussels since 1848, occupied an influential position in the local art world, and his acquaintance could therefore prove useful. Roelofs advised Vincent
“that from now on I should concentrate on drawing from nature, i.e. whether plaster or model, but not without guidance from someone who understands it well. And he, and others too, seriously advised me definitely to go and work at a drawing academy, at least for a while, here or in Antwerp or anywhere I could, so I think I should in fact do something about getting admitted to that drawing academy, although I don’t particularly like the idea.”
Vincent enrolled at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles in early November. It is unknown whether he stayed in touch with Roelofs.