Portret van Jozef Blok, 1882
Theo Mesker, De Boekenstal, 1877
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Binnenhof still exists and is the seat of the government of the Netherlands. The roof beneath which Blok had his book stall is still visible at the entrance to Binnenhof on the Hofweg side.

Van Gogh in

Blok the Jewish bookseller

  1. 1882
     - 1883

Vincent often bought prints from the Jewish dealer Jozef Blok (1832–1905). On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Jozef Blok ran a market stall in Binnenhof selling collectors’ items, magazines and literature, and he was well-known among artists. Vincent was a fanatical collector of prints. His most notable purchase from Blok consisted of 21 volumes of the magazine The Graphic (vols. 1870–1880), for which he paid 21 guilders, along with portraits of Blok’s father and mother – “two of each!” Vincent wrote in astonishment, to emphasize that he had acquired the magazines with some difficulty (by comparison, each month he paid 12.50 guilders in rent and received 150 francs, or about 75 guilders, from Theo).

Vincent also drew a portrait of Jozef Blok. He wrote the following to his friend the artist Anthon Gerhard Alexander van Rappard (1858–1892):

“Do you know who I drew this morning? Blok the Jewish bookseller, not David but the short one who’s on the Binnenhof. I wish I had more from that family, for they are a true type. It’s enormously difficult to get the types one would prefer to have — in the meantime I’m content to draw What I can get, without losing sight of the others I would draw if I had the choice. I’m very pleased with Blok. He reminds me of things from many years ago. I hope he’ll come again some other Sunday morning.” Read the complete letter

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