discover the places where Vincent lived and worked

Antwerp, Belgium

  • November 28, 1885

When Vincent got to Antwerp, he had to deposit his possessions temporarily at the royal customs house. He was able to retrieve them after a few days. The docks and quays would remain one of Vincent's favourite areas of the city to walk in. He wrote enthusiastically to his brother:

“Well, these docks are one huge Japonaiserie, fantastic, singular, strange — at least, one can see them like that. I’d like to walk with you there to find out whether we look at things the same way. One could do anything there, townscapes — figures of the most diverse character — the ships as the central subject with water and sky in delicate grey — but above all — Japonaiseries. I mean, the figures there are always in motion, one sees them in the most peculiar settings, everything fantastic, and interesting contrasts keep appearing of their own accord. A white horse in the mud, in a corner where heaps of merchandise lie covered with a tarpaulin — against the old, black, smoke-stained walls of the warehouse. Quite simple — but a Black and White effect.’’Read the complete letter

Especially after taking long walks to farm villages on sandy moorland, Vincent found the sight of the docks to afford an “interesting contrast”. 


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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