discover the places where Vincent lived and worked

Van Gogh in Antwerp, Belgium

  • November 24, 1885 - February 28, 1886
Vincent arrived in Antwerp from Nuenen on 24 November 1885 in the hope of taking lessons at the city’s art academy and selling his work.

Vincent had let slip in an 1884 letter to his brother Theo that he wanted to go to Antwerp, and the idea had been on his mind ever since. He rented a second-storey room in the Belgian city from a married Dutch couple, Willem Henricus Brandel and Anna Wilhelmina Huberta.

Vincent enjoyed his first weeks in Antwerp, and he often wrote to Theo about how glad he was he had decided to go there. Vincent loved discovering the city, walking along its quays, visiting its churches and museums. He approached various art dealers in the hope of selling his work. But Antwerp failed to yield the income Vincent had hoped for, and he repeatedly had to beg Theo for money to live on.

In January 1886, Vincent enrolled on a course in drawing from classical sculpture at the art academy. He also briefly attended a painting course there taught by Charles Verlat and enrolled in two evening life-drawing clubs. 

During this time, Vincent developed various dental problems, probably because of his unhealthy lifestyle; he ate poorly, often living on bread and water, and was a heavy pipe smoker. He dealt with the problem by having many “bad teeth snipped off".

His lessons at the academy were supposed to continue until March 1886, but Vincent did not see them through. He left Antwerp on 28 February to continue his artistic development in Paris, hoping to gain a place in the artist Fernand Cormon’s studio.

Seven paintings and a number of drawings from Vincent’s Antwerp period have been preserved.

Existing, accessible
Existing, not accessible
No longer existing

Locations in


Guido Persoons
Vincent van Gogh te Antwerpen in 1885-1886 : zijn opleiding in de Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten te Antwerpen als bijdrage tot de vorming van zijn kunstenaarschap
In: Periscoop, Vriendenkring van de Koninklijke Academie, 14-1 (1990) 

Mark Tralbaut
Van Gogh te Antwerpen
Antwerpen, 1958

Louis van Tilborg and Ella Hendriks
Vincent van Gogh schilderijen, deel 2: Antwerpen en Parijs
Amsterdam, 2011

Ella Hendriks and Louis van Tilborgh
New views on Van Gogh’s development in Antwerp and Paris: an integrated art historical and technical study of his paintings in the Van Gogh Museum
Universiteit van Amsterdam, dissertation, 2006

Marije Vellekoop, Sjraar van Heugten
Vincent van Gogh tekeningen, deel 3: Antwerpen en Parijs 1885 – 1888
Amsterdam, 2001

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