Van Gogh in The Hague, The Netherlands
- July 30, 1869 - May 10, 1873
- November 27, 1881 - September 11, 1883
Office clerk at Goupil & Cie
(30 July 1869–10 May 1873)
On 30 July 1869, Vincent registered as a resident of the municipality of The Hague. Through the efforts of his uncle Vincent “Cent” van Gogh (1820–1888), he got a job with the international art dealers Goupil & Cie and became its youngest clerk. The position gave Vincent the opportunity to view plenty of art, and he threw himself into his new role with great enthusiasm. In this period of his life, about which little is known, he came into contact with people including the Haanebeek family; the Tersteeg family; the Roos family, in whose boarding house he lodged; and Mr Hillen, his catechism teacher.
After a few successful years with the firm, he was transferred to Goupil & Cie’s London branch. Though Vincent looked forward to seeing London and improving his English, he was sorry to leave The Hague:
His warm feelings for the people he was leaving behind are evident in a letter he later wrote to his brother:
But his time in London was a good one. After two years there, and wanderings in France, England, Belgium and the Netherlands, Vincent returned to The Hague in December 1881 to start his career as an artist.
(27 November 1881–11 September 1883)
In November 1881, Vincent came to The Hague, full of enthusiasm, to take instruction in painting from the artist Anton Mauve (1838–1888). After a fertile three weeks there, he returned to his parents’ home in Etten. The visit was not destined to last long: Vincent argued with his father, and the row was so fierce that he went straight back to The Hague, presenting himself once more at the home of Mauve, who was married to Vincent’s cousin Ariëtte “Jet” Sophia Jeanette Carbentus (1856–1894). Vincent soon found a studio of his own. Contact with other artists, such as Bernardus Johannes Blommers (1845–1914), Théophile de Bock (1851–1904), Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch (1824–1903), Herman van der Weele (1852–1930), and the aforementioned Mauve played a key part in his artistic development. He became an associate member of the artists’ society Pulchri Studio. From his uncle Cornelis “Cor” Marinus van Gogh (1824–1908) (often referred to as C.M. in correspondence) he received his first paid commission, to draw city views. Along with living in The Hague, which he loved to depict in drawings, he enjoyed working in Scheveningen.
In The Hague, Vincent went through an intense period in his artistic career, resolutely working away while earning little. His conviction that he was an artist and must learn as much as he could and his confidence that he would succeed one day clashed with the harsh realities of everyday life, in which he was forced to pinch every penny and frequently defend his lifestyle and work. He depended on financial assistance from his brother Theo, with whom he frequently corresponded. When Vincent became involved with Clasina “Sien” Maria Hoornik (1850–1904), a pregnant prostitute he had met on the street, his friendships became strained. In the end, Vincent departed The Hague in 1883 to live more cheaply in the Drenthe countryside. He left his beloved Sien behind in the city with her children. In spite of having promised to marry her, he would only see her once again.