From 1877 to 1881, the artist Théophile de Bock (1851–1904) had a studio in Huize Rozenburg, which he rented with Tony Offermans (1854–1911) and Jozef Neuhuys (1841–1889). Vincent met De Bock in August 1881 on a visit to Anton Mauve’s (1838–1888), and De Bock immediately made a good impression:
After Vincent moved to The Hague in late 1881, the two men stayed in regular contact and visited each other in their respective studios. By then, De Bock had a new studio in a tower at Villa Germania in Scheveningen, where other artists including Willem de Zwart (1862–1931) and Pieter de Josselin de Jong (1861–1906) also worked. Vincent visited De Bock’s studio often, and when he worked in Scheveningen, De Bock allowed him to store his painting supplies there. Although Vincent generally appreciated De Bock’s work, he was not always unreservedly enthusiastic when it came to his personality:
“Theo, Sunday I went to see De Bock again – I don’t know why, but each time I go to see him I feel the same: that chap’s too weak, he won’t succeed – unless he changes, unless – unless – I find something worn out, something blasé, something insincere about him that oppresses me, there’s something consumptive about the atmosphere in his house.’’
Yet evidently these reservations did not get in the way of their friendship. In the summer of 1883, when Vincent was looking into the possibility of living and working near the sea, he asked De Bock for information:
“I talked to Bock about houses in Scheveningen, but I must stop saying the rent for my studio is high when I compare it with the costs that others have; for instance, the house where Blommers used to live is to let — the rent is 400 guilders and I pay 170 guilders a year. Moreover, the studio is no bigger than mine, and as for the suitability of the house I would stick to what I have now. De Bock himself pays the same as Blommers. And this is in line with what I heard last year about average rents. If it was a question of going to live by the sea, Scheveningen wouldn’t be possible and one would have to go further away, Hook of Holla1nd, say, or Marken.”
In order to be able to work by the sea more often and more successfully, Vincent ultimately hit upon the solution of a pied à terre: he secured permission to store his painting supplies in De Bock’s attic when he went to work in Scheveningen.