From 25 to 27 November 1881, Vincent van Gogh came to Amsterdam to visit his cousin Cornelia “Kee” Adriana Vos-Stricker (1846–1918). The preceding summer, he had fallen secretly in love with Kee – who had lost her husband, Christoffel Martinus Vos, in 1878 – when she spent a few weeks with the Van Goghs in Etten. Vincent had confessed his love to Kee and asked her to marry him. She replied: "No, nay, never." Vincent remained undeterred, convinced that she might yet soften and come to love him. Both families, however, opposed a relationship and implored Vincent to restrain himself and to look for someone else.
Though Vincent was no longer allowed to see Kee, his feelings remained strong, and he continued to write to her. In a last-ditch effort to win her love, Vincent – using money he had received from his brother Theo – travelled to Amsterdam and turned up on the Stricker family's doorstep. Everyone except Kee was sitting at the table. Vincent spoke with her father, Johannes Paulus Stricker, who impressed upon him that he had to forget Kee. Vincent did not see his cousin during his three days in Amsterdam. His hopes unfulfilled, he departed the city, resolving to accept his fate, but Kee would remain in his thoughts.