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discover the places where Vincent lived and worked
 
 

Goupil & Cie I
London, England

  • May 19, 1873 - October 26, 1874

In May 1873, Vincent van Gogh went to London to work at the city's branch of the international art dealers Goupil & Cie. He had gained experience in the firm’s Hague branch in the preceding years. Goupil had no showroom in London, only a warehouse for distributing prints. It did not deal in original paintings and was therefore mainly regarded as a wholesaler of reproductions. Vincent occupied himself chiefly with administrative tasks. He wrote of his situation without much enthusiasm:

“Things are going all right for me here, I have a nice home, and even though the firm isn’t as exciting as the Hague branch”

Since the nature of the London business did not afford Vincent many chances to see paintings, he asked his brother Theo to keep him informed about works he saw and about new editions of etchings and lithographs. One advantage of working at Goupil’s London branch was that Vincent’s days were considerably shorter than they had been in The Hague, though, as he observed, the people there worked just as hard. He started at nine and got off at six; the hours left him enough time for walking, reading and writing letters. On Saturdays, he finished at four. Vincent walked to work each day from his boarding house; the trip took about forty-five minutes. He earned a good salary of 90 pounds a year. 

In January 1875, Goupil & Cie took over the Holloway & Sons business at 25 Bedford Street. Vincent was not present to help prepare for the opening of Goupil’s new location because he had been sent temporarily to the Paris branch. The reason for the trip is unknown, but pressure from his family may have been a factor; his state of mind was gloomy and they did not believe the London air was doing him any good. This may have disappointed Vincent, who had hoped to be of service if the firm increased its trade in paintings; he wrote to his brother:

"it’s perhaps good that I’m here, and later on especially, when the trade in paintings becomes a little more important, I’ll possibly be of use.”

In the spring of 1875, however, Vincent was transferred to Goupil & Cie’s Paris headquarters. The transfer was meant to be temporary at first, but Vincent was not destined to return to London.

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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