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Van Gogh in Isleworth, England

  • June 24, 1876 - December 20, 1876
Vincent ended up in Isleworth in June 1876 after the school that employed him as an assistant teacher moved there from Ramsgate.

His boss, William Port Stokes (c. 1832–1890), held out the prospect of a small salary after the move (he had previously only promised room and board). On top of food and shelter, if Vincent was lucky, he would receive a maximum of £20 annually. By comparison, a year earlier, he had been earning £90 a year working for the art dealers Goupil & Cie. Vincent therefore had to live more modestly than he was used to. Understandably, he wrote wistfully to his brother Theo:

“There may well come a time when I look back with a certain nostalgia on the ‘excesses of Egypt’ connected with other situations, namely earning more money and being in many respects of more consequence in the world – this I foresee.”[[ brief nr=085]]

Yet Vincent was neither willing nor able to return to his former life. He was convinced that he belonged in education or the clergy and planned to work as a missionary in London or even South America. His letters clearly show that religion was becoming increasingly important to him. In August 1876, he wrote to Theo of his deepest wish:

“to be bound to Christ with unbreakable bonds and to feel those bonds. To be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”

A few days after arriving in Isleworth, Vincent met the Rev. Thomas Slade-Jones (1829–1883). Like Stokes, he ran a boarding school. Vincent decided to change employers and went to work for Jones as an assistant teacher; he also taught Sunday school at “Mr. Jones’s church” and was eventually allowed to preach there. In December 1876, Vincent left Isleworth to spend the holidays with his parents in Etten. There, he plotted a new course for the future. He gave up teaching, never to return to England. Instead, he went off to Dordrecht.

Existing, accessible
Existing, not accessible
No longer existing

Locations in
Isleworth

literature

Martin Bailey
Young Vincent: the story of Van Gogh's years in England
London, 1990

Kristine Groenhart and Willem-Jan Verlinden
Hoe ik van Londen houd: wandelen door het Londen van Vincent van Gogh
Amsterdam, 2013

Jan Meyers
De jonge Vincent: jaren van vervoering en vernedering
Amsterdam, 1989

Ronald Pickvance
English influences on Vincent Van Gogh 
London, 1974

 
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