The artist Anton Mauve (1838–1888) was married to a cousin of Vincent’s, Ariëtte “Jet” Carbentus (1856–1894). The first time Vincent mentioned visiting Mauve in his letters was in the week of 26 August 1881. Their immediate interest in each other is evident in the letter:
“I spent an afternoon and part of an evening at Mauve’s and saw many beautiful things in his studio. My own drawings interested Mauve more. He gave me a great many suggestions, which I’m glad of, and I’ve sort of arranged to pay him another visit fairly soon when I have some more studies.”
Vincent did so. In December 1881, he spent three weeks studying with Mauve and working in his studio every day. Mauve had actually been supposed to visit him in Etten, but when this failed to happen, Vincent boldly suggested:
Mauve agreed, and he immediately put together some arrangements for Vincent to use to paint still lifes. And so Vincent made his first oil paintings, depicting wooden shoes and other objects.
After three weeks of intensive practice in Mauve’s studio, Vincent returned to Etten, but he argued with his father at Christmas. So he gathered his things, returned to The Hague, and presented himself at Mauve’s once more. Within a week, Vincent had found his first studio on Schenkweg, only a few streets away. Mauve gave Vincent money to furnish and equip the studio.
But not long after Vincent had established himself in The Hague, the two men argued, and the rift was never mended. The disagreement stemmed from their differing views on art, from Vincent’s behaviour, and from his relationship with the pregnant prostitute Sien Hoornik.
In 1885, Mauve moved to Laren. After he died in 1888, Vincent dedicated a painting of a flowering peach tree to him in Arles with the words Souvenir de Mauve.