Vincent’s stillborn brother lies buried in the cemetery beside the village church where Dorus Van Gogh was parson. On 30 March 1852 – exactly a year before Vincent was born – his mother bore a lifeless son, whom she also called Vincent. Vincent’s birthday was thus forever linked to the day of his brother’s death.
He presumably went to see the little grave as a child, and he made occasional visits to the Zundert cemetery later in life. In a letter sent to Tersteeg, his former boss at Goupil & Cie, after the death of Tersteeg’s young daughter on 24 July 1877, Vincent wrote:
“My Father has also felt what you will have been feeling these past days. I recently stood early one morning in the cemetery at Zundert next to the little grave on which is written: Suffer the little children to come unto Me, for of such is the kingdom of God. More than 25 years have passed since he buried his first little boy there.”