Vincent’s studio at his parents’ house was small and badly situated, and relations with his family were not optimal. He therefore wished for a new studio. In May 1884, he rented one from the Catholic sexton Johannes Schafrat and his wife, Adriana Schafrat-Van Eerd, for 75 guilders a year:
He hoped the new studio would increase his desire to work. It was large enough for him to work with a model, and he looked forward to being able to paint watercolours. Vincent began living in the studio in early May 1885, after his father’s death. He had had an argument with his sister Anna and decided he should move out of the family home:
“But I’m convinced that it’s to their advantage for me to leave, particularly in view of Ma’s intention to take in a lodger this summer, if possible, who wanted to be in the country for his health — or should this not come about, then they’re still freer with regard to guests &c.”
The studio was located beside the parsonage of the parish priest Andreas Pauwels, with whom Vincent had trouble in late August 1885. Pauwels and the village chaplain, W. Beekmans, interfered in Vincent’s business, imploring him not to associate with the lower classes, such as the labourers who modelled for him. In an effort to stop the practice, they even offered to pay the models to stay away. But Vincent resisted their meddling:
“This time I simply went straight to the burgomaster and told him exactly what had happened, and pointed out that this was none of the priests’ business and that they should stick to their own province of more abstract things.”
Vincent continued to work with his models undeterred; fortunately, they tended to side with him rather than with the churchmen. Still, it is possible that the conflict provided Vincent with additional impetus to leave Nuenen for Antwerp in November 1885.