Old map
Download wandeling
View route
Download route
  1. Image

Mutsaardstraat 31

The building still exists and continues to house the city’s art academy.

Van Gogh in

Art Academy

  1. 18 Jan. 1886 1886
     - 28 Feb. 1886 1886

Vincent greatly desired to gain more experience drawing from nude models. He had drawn a large number of people in their work attire in Etten but was convinced that more practice with nudes would improve his knowledge of anatomy and benefit his work. He had trouble finding women or men willing to model for him, however, and studying at the academy provided a solution.

On 18 January 1886, Vincent enrolled in a drawing course in antique sculpture run by the artist Frans Vinck. Vinck had studied with Henri Leys, who Vincent greatly admired. Vincent also took two weeks of painting lessons from Charles Verlat but was subsequently advised to spend some time concentrating on drawing.

Vincent’s drawing style created a sensation at the academy: it was unlike anything people had seen before. He enjoyed his time there at first and noticed an improvement in his work but after barely three weeks, he had already had enough. He found “people at the academy” hateful and looked for ways to avoid discord.

For a drawing competition, Vincent made a figure of a Germanicus. He suspected himself of coming last with the drawing because he deviated from the norm and, moreover, he had had this experience before in Brussels. Vincent wrote:

“But I saw the drawing that will be considered to be the best being done — I was sitting just behind — and it’s correct, it’s anything you like, but it’s dead and so are all those drawings that I saw.” Read the complete letter

Vincent was critical of the art school and its teaching methods. In his opinion, students were learning an incorrect use of colour that was not “real” or “lifelike”. In this period, Vincent thought about going to Paris so he could be with his brother Theo and paint nude models more easily.

Vincent probably painted Head of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette during his brief stint at art school in Antwerp; a skeleton was used there to teach students about human anatomy.

Made here

Head of a skeleton with a burning cigarette, 1886

Head of a skeleton with a burning cigarette, 1886

Oil on canvas, 32,3 x 24,8 cm

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Stichting)

The discus thrower, 1886

The discus thrower, 1886

Crayon on paper, 56,2 x 44,3 cm

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Stichting)

    Continue reading

    1. Jan Lampo en Vera De Boeck

      In het spoor van de Academie: kunsten in Antwerpen
      Wommelgem, 2013
    2. Louis Piérard

      Van Gogh à Anvers
      In: Les Marges 13 (1914), pp. 47-53
    3. Guido Persoons

      Vincent van Gogh te Antwerpen in 1885-1886 : zijn opleiding in de Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten te Antwerpen als bijdrage tot de vorming van zijn kunstenaarschap
      In: Periscoop, Vriendenkring van de Koninklijke Academie, 14-1 (1990)
    4. Mark Tralbaut

      Van Gogh te Antwerpen
      Antwerpen, 1958
    5. Louis van Tilborg en Ella Hendriks

      Vincent van Gogh schilderijen, deel 2: Antwerpen en Parijs
      Amsterdam, 2011
    6. Ella Hendriks en Louis van Tilborgh

      New views on Van Gogh’s development in Antwerp and Paris: an integrated art historical and technical study of his paintings in the Van Gogh Museum
      Universiteit van Amsterdam, proefschrift, 2006
    7. Marije Vellekoop, Sjraar van Heugten

      Vincent van Gogh tekeningen, deel 3: Antwerpen en Parijs 1885 – 1888
      Amsterdam, 2001