Location rectory and first studio Etten

In an outbuilding of the rectory of the NH church in Etten, Vincent van Gogh had his first studio. The building is no longer there, but a statue marks the spot.

The family of pastor Van Gogh, with the youngest son Cor still living at home, moved into the rectory in 1875. It is a large house on the Roosendaalseweg 4, located in the center of the village between the Markt and the Bisschopsmolenstraat on the national road from Breda to Roosendaal (current location: Binnentuin, rear of City Office).

In 1904, the vicarage was torn down and replaced by a new parsonage. This has since disappeared as well, and a modern town hall now stands on this site. A bronze statue of Vincent (made by Hein Vree) refers to the historic location of the old parsonage. It stands cadastrically at the exact spot of Vincent's very first studio.

A postcard survives of a photograph showing half of the building in which the Van Goghs lived. In addition, the house has been drawn several times. In 1831, the military man David Gevers van Endegeest makes a drawing of the presbytery that served as the headquarters of a regiment of soldiers after the Belgian Revolt. Vincent draws the presbytery in 1876 and In the summer of 1881, his friend Anthon van Rappard also records the building.

When Vincent's parents moved into the rectory at Etten, Vincent was still working in his uncle Cent's art business in Paris. He visited them for the first time at Christmas 1875. Theo then also comes from The Hague. Presumably they discuss Vincent's work in the art business. That does not go well, dismissal is imminent. Vincent begins applying for a teaching position in England. The day after his 23rd birthday, he travels to Etten again. He had been fired from the art gallery Goupil & Cie and was on his way to the English seaside resort of Ramsgate where he could work as an assistant teacher on a trial basis. The atmosphere at the rectory is peaceful. Cor gets piano lessons and father sits in the garden shed for catechism. ''It's getting very sweet in the garden,'' Mother writes to Theo.

Vincent remains in Etten until April 14, 1876. He makes two drawings of the rectory and adjacent church. One of these he gives as a gift to his youngest sister Willemien, who initially did not move with him to Etten, but left for a year to live with her sister Anna in Welwyn, England.

After several months at William Stokes' school in Ramsgate, Vincent moves to Isleworth to teach at Thomas Slade-Jones' school. At Christmas, he returns to his parents in Etten. Theo is there again by then. Together they take a long walk through the snow to Chaam to hear their father, who ministers there, preach. During his stay, Uncle Cent arranges a job for Vincent at the bookstore Blussé & Van Braam in Dordrecht. His career in the bookstore, however, is short-lived. He develops a growing interest in religion and expresses a desire to continue in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. 'It is my prayer and earnest desire, that the spirit of my Father and Grandfather may also rest upon me, and that it may be given to me to be a Christian and a Christian workman, that my life may resemble the more the better, for behold, that old wine is good and I desire no new one, upon that of Them whom I mention there. Their God be my God and their people my people, that this may be my portion: To come to know Christ in His full worth and to be impelled by His love.'

Vincent returned to Etten in early May 1877 and from there left for Amsterdam for preliminary training to study theology. He was able to live with Uncle Jan, who at that time was director of the naval shipyard. Despite a great commitment, the studies are hard for him. After a year he gives up and returns to his parents in Etten, where he spends the summer of 1878 waiting for new opportunities. He now seeks them in Belgium. With the help of his father and Reverend Slade-Jones of Isleworth, he visits Brussels to see if the Flemish training school for evangelists has a future. There they speak with pastors Abraham van der Waeyen Pieterszen and Nicolaas de Jonge. Vincent is given the opportunity to study in Brussels for a time in preparation for an appointment as an evangelist in the mining region of The Borinage.

On July 22, 1878, in anticipation of his departure for Brussels, Vincent walked with his little brother Cor to the Pannenhoef, a nature reserve between Etten and Zundert, where together they drew a map of the village and its surroundings. On it they wrote down the names of Protestant families from their circle of acquaintances: "This morning Cor, who has a holiday, and I went again to the heath and mastbosch, a little past the Molenend and went to get some heather for his rabbits who apparently like it a lot because it is also their natural food for a good part, and some to fill a flower basket.We spent some time in the mastbosch and together we drew a map of Etten and its surroundings with den Bremberg & Haansberg & t'Slagveld & de Geestestraat and Sprundel & t'Heike & de Hoeve.

After his sister Anna's marriage to Joan van Houten, which takes place in Etten, Vincent leaves for Brussels at the end of August to begin his training. Three months later, he travels on to Wasmes to start work as an evangelist among the miners. He starts out full of hope. The people here have something peculiar and attractive because of their simplicity and good-heartedness like the people of Brabant in Zundert and Etten," he wrote to Theo.

Despite, or perhaps because of, his great dedication and commitment to the miners, Vincent loses his job. His superiors feel that he does not keep enough distance from the workers. He moves to nearby Cuesmes and finds himself in crisis. For a long period of time, he stops correspondence with Theo, lives in temporary seclusion, takes long walks in nature, consults with the minister-painter Pieterszen in Saint Mary Horebeke and undertakes a pilgrimage to Jules Breton's studio in Courrières. It leads to his decision to choose artistry. 'Well, nevertheless, precisely in that deep misery, I felt my energy come back and said to myself: I will recover anyway, I will pick up my pencil again, which I had put down in my great despondency, and I will draw again.'

He spends a short time in Brussels, where he seeks contact with other artists and befriends the painter Anthon van Rappard (1858-1892). Then he returned again to the parental home in Etten. this time for a somewhat longer period: 9 months. At Christmas 1881, after a heated argument with his father, Vincent left the Etten parsonage for good.


Roosendaalseweg 4
4875 AA Etten-Leur
Plan your route