Vincent van Gogh
 

  • From his youth onward, Vincent van Gogh travelled from place to place and country to country, never staying long. 
    Walk in his footsteps and discover the places where he lived as they are today. 

The Netherlands

Amsterdam

  • May 14, 1877 - July 5, 1878
  • November 24, 1881 - November 27, 1881
  • October 6, 1885 - October 8, 1885
Vincent arrived in Amsterdam in May 1877, intending to prepare for theology studies at the university.

He had several contacts in the city: his uncle Johannes Paulus Stricker was a minister there, his uncle Cor van Gogh dealt in books and art, and his uncle Jan van Gogh was the director of the city’s naval dockyard. Jan van Gogh had set up a study bedroom for Vincent, and Vincent spent his days amid the inspiring liveliness of the dockyard.

His schedule consisted of Greek and Latin lessons with the classicist Maurits Benjamin Mendes da Costa, geometry and algebra lessons with a Mr Texeira de Mattos, and plenty of self-study. Vincent worked from early morning until late at night, but he found his studies difficult. Although he was making progress, he did not feel as if he was mastering the material. On Sundays he often attended multiple church services and also taught Sunday school.

Although his attention was necessarily focused on his studies, he visited museums such as the Trippenhuis and Museum van der Hoop whenever he could, and he enjoyed walking in the city, whose beauty he admired. He often managed to capture its atmosphere in letters by comparing it to various paintings. In the end, Vincent failed to successfully complete his studies and left Amsterdam in summer 1878 for his parents' house in Etten. There, he began contemplating his future plans.  

Vincent was to visit Amsterdam twice more in his life. In 1881, he went to the capital to see his cousin Kee Vos, with whom he had fallen powerfully in love; his feelings would remain painfully unrequited. In 1885, he returned to the city for the last time to visit the newly opened Rijksmuseum with his friend Anton Kerssemakers.

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Station

  • October 6, 1885 - October 8, 1885
Vincent made a painting in the waiting room of Amsterdam’s temporary railway station.

While visiting Amsterdam with his friend Anton Kerssemakers to see the new Rijksmuseum in October 1885, Vincent dashed off a small painting in the waiting room of the temporary railway station on the Westerdok (1878–1889). The station was torn down in 1889 with the opening of the permanent Centraal Station. Vincent sent the painting, View of Amsterdam from Central Station, and another small one made at the back of the building, View of Amsterdam, De Ruyterkade, to his brother Theo the week after he painted them, apologising for their condition:

“To my regret, the two little sketches of Amsterdam are quite badly damaged. They got wet on the journey; then the little panels warped when they dried, and dust &c. got into them. I’m sending them all the same to show you that if, in the space of an hour, I want to dash off an impression somewhere, I’m beginning to be able to do this in the same sentiment as others who — analyze — their impressions. And give themselves a reason for what they see. This is something other than feeling, that’s to say undergoing impressions — there may perhaps be a great deal between experiencing impressions and — analyzing them, that’s to say taking them apart and putting them together again. But it’s enjoyable to put something down in a rush.”

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