Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh in Brabant

With certainty, Vincent Van Gogh is the most well-known modern artist with roots in firmly in the soil of Brabant. Though the Van Gogh Museum, which shows an appealing overview of his work is located in Amsterdam, Vincent Van Gogh originated from Brabant. He was born on the 30th of March 1853 in a small village called Zundert. In September 1866 the young Vincent set trail to Tilburg to take secondary school classes at the Rijks-HBS (HogereBurgerSchool), in our Town. This school just newly started and was located in the former summer palace of King William II (Den Haag, 6 December 1792, Tilburg, 17 March 1849, who had held close ties with Tilburg during his lifetime and deceased in Tilburg. Though he never was able to live or use this Summer Palace, because King William II was already deceased when the building was finished. Now, this new grammar school was placed in this building: ‘Rijksschool Koning Willem II’. When the young Vincent lived in Tilburg, 1866 – 1868, he was one of the first 18 pupils of the school when it first school year started.

We just opened this blog with an image of the only painting Vicent van Gogh ever sold during his lifetime. It was painted in November 1888 in Arles. The work is now in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. The work was sold during an exhibition of Les XX in Brussels. The work was acquired for 400 French francs by the Belgian painter Anna Boch (family Villeroy & Boch), with whose brother Eugène Boch was a friend of Van Gogh. She hung the painting in her Salon de Musique on the first floor of her mansion in rue Abbey in Ixelles, Belgium. In 1906, Boch sold the painting for 10,000 francs at Galerie Bernheim in Paris. In 1909 it was resold for 33,000 gold rubles via art dealership Druet to the Russian textile dealer and art collector Ivan Morozov (1871-1921).

B&B-Tilburg, plaque in memory Vincent van Gogh

Year of the worst Cholera Epidemic

For Tilburg, this time was the transition period in which the cottage industry gradually gave way to factory production. Tilburg changed from an agricultural craft community to a semi-urban society, in which the textile industry was the dominant industry. In 1866, Tilburg was a relatively large, Catholic textile city under construction. Well-considered an industrial area, in between the ever-growing factory buildings. The cityscape was soon to be determined by towers of churches and monastery chapels and factory chimneys. The urbanisation of the scattered, different cores of ‘retreats’ gradually took more and more shape, where on the one hand the original core around the Heuvel, and the arrival in 1863 of railway line and station, formed the heart of the run-up to the city’s development.

At that time, paved roads were an exception, sewerage and water supply networks were lacking and in 1866 the town was plagued by the worst cholera epidemic of the 19th century. The then already known summer fair of 1866 was canceled. When Vincent arrived in Tilburg in September of that year, the epidemic was at its height.

B&B-Tilburg, Vincent van Gogh in Tilburg
B&B-Tilburg, In the footsteps of Young Vincent van Gogh, Den Engel

Walking in Tilburg brings you easily in the footsteps of the young Vincent. As you see above, Vincent had logged at the Annaplein, at the left-hand side of the images, there where the little coach in halting. At the time he stayed over here in 1866 – 1868, ‘Den Engel’, the central building in the image was already in existence. If you now visit Tilburg, you can buy fries in ‘Den Engel’, which nowadays is a  cafeteria. The guesthouse where Vincent stayed no longer exists. The new shop dwelling house built here has a bronze plaque, which reminds us that Vincent van Gogh once stayed here.

Another example, the St. Josephstraat, on the left the factory of the N.V. Wollenstoffenfabriek Beka (van den Bergh-Krabbendam), built in the years 1841-1846 as a supplier or cavalry barracks by order of King Willem II. In the background the chimney and the boiler house of this factory. See, how it was around 1900, and how it still looks now.

B&B-Tilburg St-Josephstraat about 1900
B&B-Tilburg, Old and New, what did Vincent van Gogh see?

After the Ten Day Militairy Campaign, in the secession war of Belgium in August 1831, Tilburg became garrison city for the armies of the later King William II. Military preparedness was maintained for some time and the central location of Tilburg was decisive. Ten years later, the cavalry barracks built for this purpose were occupied in 1842. In 1859 the complex was transformed into a textile factory for the firm Van den Bergh-Krabbendam and later the N.V. Wollenstoffenfabriek Beka, when Vincent as a young boy arrived in Tilburg to become a pupil at the WillemII Grammar School in 1866.

B&B-Tilburg, Van Gogh Church in Zundert

Becoming an Artist

The decisive period in which Vincent VanGogh consciously chooses to be an artist, also took place in Brabant.
He made this choice when he returns home after a disappointing endeavor in the coal mining district in Belgium, the Borinage. In 1879, when 25 years of age, after he had tried to start several career-like opportunities he then returns home. When his parents relocated from Zundert to Etten where his father as protestant preacher took a position, he decided to follow through a year of reflection, after which he definitely decides to become an artist. At that time he is heavily influenced by the drawings and paintings of Jules Breton and Jean-Francois Millet. His social engagement with miners, fieldworkers and peasant-hands kick-started his deeper longing and wish to become an artist.

So the following six towns in the province of Brabant have a connection with the painter Vincent van Gogh:  Zundert, Zevenbergen, Tilburg, Helvoirt, Etten-Leur, and Nuenen. In four of these towns, you still finds historic connection with Vincent van Gogh.

In Brabant the year 2015 was placed in Vincent’s character. In 2015 it was exactly 125 years since Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) had died. This was the opportunity to honor the famous Dutch artist with a quality program: important exhibitions, cycling routes and numerous art events. Still, it is a pleasure to visit Brabant, to step up in his footprints, visit his birthplace and all the other places where he spent his younger years.

B&B-Tilburg, Vincent van Gogh Huis Zundert

Vincent VanGogh was born in Zundert on 30 March 1853 as eldest of five children in a preacher’s family. The house where he was born does not exist anymore, but in a renovated mansion – “Het Vincent van Gogh Huis” – one can get acquainted with the life of the Van Gogh family in Zundert through multimedia presentations. The presentation is set up in such a way that it is like meeting and speaking to Vincent himself. The second part of the presentation exhibits connections with contemporary artists that are influenced and/or inspired by Vincent van Gogh. 
Etten-Leur has a display in a small, old sexton’s house describing his stay in Etten-Leur and illustrating the start of Vincent’s career as an artist.
 In Tilburg, where Vincent attended grammar school, the classroom where he had drawing lessons has been restored to its original state. Contemporary artists are involved in the drawing education program for youngsters in Tilburg, and by doing so create more attention to VanGogh and Tilburg.

Follow-up in the footprints of Vincent van Gogh

B&B-Tilburg, The Vincentre in Nunen on Vincent Van Gogh

In Nuenen you can find the ‘Van Gogh Documentation Centre’, established in 1976, where photos, reproductions and archives give an impression of Vincent’s period in Nuenen. In July 2010 the “Vincentre”, the new Van Gogh Centre located on the ‘Berg’ in Nuenen, opened its doors to the public. In the Vincentre you can discover how Vincent van Gogh lived and painted while in Nuenen. Vincent lived and worked in Nuenen for two years, producing 196 paintings and 263 drawings.


Bed and Breakfast Tilburg Gust van Dijk would like to focus attention on the connection of the region with the younger years of Vincent van Gogh. Therefore Bed and Breakfast Tilburg Gust van Dijk can offer you an exclusive arrangement to discover Vincent van Gogh in Brabant. The arrangement is limited to four persons.


During the arrangement, you will be guided by the artist duo that is the driving force behind a number of much talked-about initiatives and the B&B, will guide you in a Gust van Dijk Art-tour. Coming from Brabant themselves, the two guides will take you to the best and most interesting spots and place you into the footprints of Vicent van Gogh himself.

Are you interested in going on an ‘Art Safari’ with us to discover the places where Vincent stayed, his birthplace Zundert and Nuenen where he painted his first masterpiece “The Potato Eaters”?
For further inquiries please contact us through e-mail with your request.

To make your choice easy: We speak: besides Dutch, German, English and French.

B&B-Tilburg, De Collse Watermolen as it looks today
B&B-Tilburg, De Collse Watermolen, Vincent van Gogh

This is the view of the Collse Watermolen, how you still can see it on it’s original location (above). Direct below you see a detail of the painting Vincent van Gogh painted it in 1884. The original painting is now in teh collection of the Noord Brabant museum in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and on show in the museum.

B&B-Tilburg, drawing Vincent Van Gogh Strijbeekse Heide

Vincent van Gogh, Strijbeekse Heide ‘Swamp with water lilies’, June 1881, Ottowa: National Gallery of Canada.

B&B-Tilburg, Van Gogh Huis Zundert permanent exhibition on the younger years of Vincent van Gogh

Exhibition at the Van Gogh Huis, Zundert: The younger years of Vincent van Gogh.