Vincent lived at Schenkweg 138 from 1 January 1882 to 4 July 1882 and had his studio there. It was only a few streets away from the studio of artist Anton Mauve (1838–1888), a key figure in Vincent’s life at the time. On 3 January 1882, just a week after arriving in The Hague after a fierce row with his father, Vincent wrote to his brother Theo that he had rented a studio:
“Now as to me, it will perhaps not be disagreeable for you to learn that I’m installed in a studio of my own. A room and alcove, the light is bright enough, for the window is large (twice as large as an ordinary window), and it’s more or less facing south. I’ve bought furniture in true ‘village constable style’, as you call it, but I think that mine resembles it much more than yours, although it was you who coined the phrase. (I have real kitchen chairs, for example, and a really sturdy kitchen table.) Mauve lent me some money, 100 guilders, to rent it, furnish it and get the window and light fixed up. … And now that I’m in my own studio, it will most probably make a not unfavourable impression on some people who until now have thought that I’m merely dabbling, idling or loafing about. – The plan is that I continue to work regularly from a model. That’s expensive, and yet it’s the cheapest way…”
Though Vincent would have happily lived in Scheveningen, he liked the studio on the outskirts of The Hague. Having a place of his own where he could paint and draw pleased him:
Schenkweg (later Schenkstraat) then lay just outside the city, behind Rhijnspoor station, which opened in 1870. The neighbourhood was just a few years old when Vincent moved in.
The studio cost him 7 guilders a month. It is likely that there was another tenant, for Vincent rented only part of the upstairs apartment. He often had trouble paying his landlord, Adrianus Johannes van der Drift, because he was not yet earning enough and was frequently short of money. He depended financially on his brother Theo, who sent him 100 francs (about 50 guilders) every month. But Vincent did sell his first drawings while living at the studio. His former employer at Goupil, H.G. Tersteeg, bought one, and his uncle Cor (Cornelis Marinus van Gogh, often referred to as C.M. in correspondence) commissioned him to draw twelve city views. Immediately upon paying for the commission, C.M. asked for six more detailed drawings.
Soon after moving into his studio, Vincent met the pregnant prostitute Clasina Maria “Sien” Hoornik (1850–1904), who became his model and lover. They decided she, her daughter and the new baby would come and live with Vincent. That meant he needed more room, and the house was shabby anyway. So Vincent made plans to move in due course to the building next door at Schenkweg 136, which was more spacious and in better shape. The specific catalyst was damage caused by a storm in late April 1882, after which a carpenter pointed out the adjacent building. Vincent wrote to Theo:
“There’s been a terrible storm here for 3 nights running. In the night from Saturday to Sunday the window of my studio gave out. (The house where I live is very dilapidated.) 4 large panes broken and the window wrenched loose. You can imagine this wasn’t all. The wind came sailing over the flat pastures directly at my window. The fence below was also knocked down, the drawings ripped from the wall, the easel on the floor. I nevertheless tied the window down with my neighbour’s help, and nailed up a woollen blanket against the opening, certainly a metre in size. Didn’t sleep a wink the whole night, as you can imagine. And lots of trouble to fix it because it was Sunday. The landlord is a poor pedlar, he gave me the glass, I paid for the work. All the more reason why I’m thinking of moving next door. There’s an upstairs flat like this.”
Vincent moved to Schenkweg 136 on 4 July 1882.