van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
» Home < Previous  
Letter from D. Gestel to Eindhovensch Dagblad
Eindhoven, 10 October 1930

  Highlighting lifestyle - appearance   - Turn off highlighting

Vincent van Gogh, and some personal reminiscences of him, by D. Gestel:

…Besides the three aforesaid amateurs [Hermans, Kerssemakers and Van de Wakker, see Letter 453c], and Jan Bayens in Rechte Street, at whose shop he bought his colours, Vincent also occasionally visited other inhabitants of Eindhoven, among others the goldsmith Driek van Gardinghe, and Van der Sande, organist of St. Catherine's Church.

Toon Kers 1 and Van de Wakker had already told me how conscientiously Vincent studied the theory of colours in books by Delacroix and others, who also tried to demonstrate a connection between colours and music. I was told that Vincent attached much importance to this, and that he wanted to convince himself personally of the connection there might exist between colours and musical tones, for which reason he went and took piano lessons from Van der Sande.

Once Vincent also walked into our printing establishment, and asked for printer's ink. Afterward he often returned for it, and on one of these occasions he asked for a small lithographic stone. After some time he returned with it, after he had drawn on it a copy of his painting, “The Potato Eaters,” with lithographic crayon…

On the occasion of this visit to our printing shop Vincent saw some paintings I had done. At the time I was still living at Amsterdam, where I was qualifying for my secondary Drawing Master's certificate. He passed by all my academic work, including Greek sculptures and Roman Caesars, but a painted study of a still life, which I did when I was sixteen years old, struck him. He said he found promise in it, and he advised my parents to remove me from the academy, and not to let me take any examinations. At any rate they were to send me to Nuenen as soon as I next came home.

I complied with this request in the summer of 1884, and so on a Sunday afternoon I set out for Nuenen in the company of my brother and our lithographic printer.

We were received by Vincent in his studio, which he had in the house of the sexton of the Roman Catholic Church at Nuenen…There he was standing before us, that short, square-built little man, called by the rustics “het schildermenneke,” “the little painter fellow.” His sunburned, weather-beaten face was framed in a somewhat red and stubbly beard. His eyes were slightly inflamed, probably from his painting in the sun. If it had not been Sunday, he would certainly have been wearing his blue blouse. Now he was dressed in a short, thick pea jacket, the kind bargemen generally wear. While he was talking about his work, he mostly kept his arms folded across his chest.

Time had been flying remarkably fast during this interesting summer afternoon at Nuenen. Toward evening twilight Vincent took us around the village. We turned into the narrow path behind the pastor's house, and soon we reached the old, squat tower and the small churchyard…After we had seen some fine picturesque homesteads, it was time to start on our walk back to Eindhoven. It was a beautiful summer night, and Vincent accompanied us as far as the Opwetten water mill. When taking leave, Vincent invited me to come back soon, and, consistent with his energetic way of doing things, he insisted on immediately making an appointment for me to take the first train to Nuenen the very next morning. And I was to take my tools along with me. Vincent would come and meet me at the little station, and after that we should go together to the heath to paint studies.

Next morning, before daybreak, I arrived at what was called the Eeneind (the One End) where the train had taken me, and I was looking out over the wide fields, hardly visible in the dim light, to see whether my new master was coming.

[Reprinted from Eindhovensch Dagblad (Eindhoven Daily Newspaper) of October 10, 1930.]

  1. Anton Kerssemakers.

At this time, Vincent was 77 year old
D. Gestel. Letter to Eindhovensch Dagblad. Written 10 October 1930 in Eindhoven. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number htm.

This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.
» Home < Previous  

or find:         Credits & feedback