It is still not known which address Vincent van Gogh first stayed at when he arrived in London in May 1873 to work for the art dealers Goupil. We do know that it was in a relatively quiet London suburb, which he called pleasant, quiet and clean and compared to the Dutch town of Tilburg. He enjoyed living in the area and often mentioned it in his letters:
“The neighbourhood where I live is very pretty, and so peaceful and convivial that one almost forgets one is in London. In front of every house is a small garden with flowers or a couple of trees, and many houses are built very tastefully in a sort of Gothic style. Still, I have to walk for more than half an hour to reach the countryside.” Read the complete letter
This he did regularly. He went walking with his supervisor at Goupil, Charles Obach, and also with his fellow lodgers, three Germans who livened up evenings at the boarding house by playing piano and singing. Vincent made an excursion with them at Whitsun 1873, but according to him, they spent so much money that he was unable to go places with them often. That August, he did take a day trip with one of them to the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Vincent subsequently daydreamed about going to live outside the city, not only because he appreciated the countryside’s beauty but also because he had begun to enjoy life at the boarding house less.
Although at first Vincent had written that he liked living at the boarding house, his feelings eventually changed. To his friends Caroline and Willem van Stockum in The Hague, he wrote that:
“things aren’t as nice here as they seemed at first. Perhaps this is my fault, so I’ll wait a little longer.” Read the complete letter
Two weeks later, though, he gave up his room and moved to a different boarding house run by Ursula Loyer and her daughter Eugenie in Brixton.