Van Gogh in Etten, The Netherlands
- April 30, 1881 - November 27, 1881
In October 1875, the Van Gogh family moved from Zundert to Etten so Mr Van Gogh could take up a position as the local parson. Vincent was then living abroad, and Etten was the home base where he rejoined the family, mainly at holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
He also used Etten as a bolthole when he was between jobs and rethinking his plans for the future. In 1877, after his dismissal from Goupil & Cie in Paris, he stayed with his parents before moving to Ramsgate, England. Six months later, after returning from Isleworth, he stayed with them again before moving to Dordrecht. And years later, in 1880, after living under harsh conditions in the Borinage, a Belgian mining region, he came back to Etten to relax and recharge.
Summer 1881 was by far the most significant period Vincent spent in the village. A beginning artist by then, he worked from local models and often went into the surrounding countryside to draw. His friend Anthon van Rappard came to visit, and they worked together. Vincent’s cousin Kee Vos also stayed with the family that summer, and Vincent fell passionately in love. His feelings for Kee were so strong that he proposed marriage. Her reply – “No, nay, never” – did not faze Vincent. Despite both families’ strong opposition, he persisted in trying to win Kee’s heart, but he did not succeed.
The incident, along with many others, severely strained family relations, and after arguing with his father at Christmastime, Vincent angrily left Etten for The Hague, never to return. The Van Gogh family moved to Nuenen, where Mr Van Gogh had been appointed parson, in early August 1882.