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Van Gogh in Ramsgate, England

  • April 16, 1876 - June 23, 1876
After a failed career in the art trade, Vincent took a job as an assistant teacher at a school in Ramsgate.

On 4 January 1876, Vincent was told he would lose his job in Paris with the art dealers Goupil & Cie as of 1 April. Vincent decided to leave the art trade and enter the field of education. He applied for various posts in England but received few replies.

On 14 April, the day before he was to leave Paris, he received a positive response. William Port Stokes (c. 1832–1890) offered Vincent a position as an assistant teacher at his boys’ school in Ramsgate in exchange for room and board, but no salary. Vincent was happy to have found a job and accepted the offer. He knew nothing about Ramsgate except that it was a seaside resort with 12,000 inhabitants.

Saying goodbye to his parents was painful for Vincent, especially on top of the change in direction from art to teaching. The weather reflected his feelings, and Vincent found apt words to describe it:

“We’ve often parted from each other already, though this time there was more sorrow than before, on both sides, but courage as well, from the firmer faith in, and greater need for, blessing. And wasn’t it as though nature sympathized with us? It was so grey and rather dismal a couple of hours ago.”

Ramsgate’s distinctive seaside atmosphere reminded Vincent of other coastal towns he knew, such as The Hague and Scheveningen.

Although his new job took some getting used to, Vincent enjoyed working at the boys’ school. Life there was so pleasant and carefree that it worried him:

“These are really happy days, the ones I’m spending here, day after day, and yet it’s a happiness and peacefulness that I don’t trust entirely, though one thing can lead to another.”  “

Vincent lived in Ramsgate only briefly; in June, the boarding school where he worked moved to Isleworth, a town just outside London, and he followed.

Existing, accessible
Existing, not accessible
No longer existing

Locations in
Ramsgate

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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