The artist Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch (1824–1903) had a studio at Kazernestraat 112 in The Hague, in the house in which he had been born and would live with his sisters throughout his life. Vincent visited Weissenbruch – known as “de vrolijke Weiss” (a play on “the cheerful tune”) because of his upbeat personality – just before leaving for London in May 1873:
Vincent saw Weissenbruch often and admired him not only for his art but also for his cheerful character. Weissenbruch, in turn, had great faith in Vincent, whom he also visited in his studio.
Weissenbruch spoke enthusiastically about Vincent to Anton Mauve (1838–1888):
Emphasising the weight of his approval, Weissenbruch subsequently told Vincent:
“they call me the merciless sword and that I certainly am, and I wouldn’t have said that to Mauve if I’d found nothing good in your studies.”
As a result, when Mauve was too busy to see him, Vincent was permitted to visit Weissenbruch. Weissenbruch deemed Vincent’s pen drawings his best work. Vincent wrote to his brother Theo to tell him what Weissenbruch had said:
“Those are your best, he said. And I told him that Tersteeg had criticized them. Take no notice of it, he said, when Mauve said there was a painter in you, Tersteeg said no, and Mauve took your side against Tersteeg, and I was there, and if it happens again, I too will take your side, now that I’ve seen your work.”