In mid-November 1884, Vincent wrote to his brother Theo that he had paid a visit to Anton Kerssemakers (1872–1890), to whom he was to give painting lessons:
“Just yesterday I brought home the study of the water mill at Gennep, which I enjoyed working on — and which brought me a new acquaintance in Eindhoven, who passionately wants to learn to paint and whom I paid a visit, and then we immediately got down to work together. So that by the evening he had a still life down, and I had his promise that he’ll make 30 of them this winter, which I’ll come and look at and help him with each time. He’s a tanner who has time and money, and is about 40, so this can become something more feasible than Hermans, who nonetheless is really sustaining his ambition and is still working just as hard as on the first day, in other words spends almost all his time on it. I have an idea that this new fellow will soon learn to see colour.” Read the complete letter
Yet Kerssemakers had difficulties with areas of high contrast:
“I’ll tell you what I feel when looking at your studies as they are now. I’ve soon seen enough, and I’d wish that the shaded passages in particular drew my eye for longer. Were more mysterious.” Read the complete letter
Vincent decided to give him three straight days of lessons, focusing on chiaroscuro.
Besides Kerssemakers, Vincent also taught Antoon Hermans, Willem van de Wakker and Dimmen Gestel. The work suited him, because it provided him with company. Vincent’s pupils paid for their lessons in art supplies, such as canvases and tubes of paint. A friendship arose between Vincent and Kerssemakers. They went on outings in the area, worked together outdoors, and visited each other at home. They took a three-day trip to Amsterdam in 1885, and it is likely that they also travelled to Antwerp.
When the two men were too busy to see each other, they exchanged letters about Kerssemakers’ work. Although they were evidently good friends, Kerssemakers is not mentioned in Vincent’s letters after the Nuenen period.