Van Gogh in
The Vincent Van GoghHuis, an entertaining museum devoted to Vincent’s life and work, occupies the site of the old parsonage. The current building dates from 1903 and is thus not the house Vincent grew up in.
Van Gogh in
The parsonage was home to the Van Gogh family. Vincent and his siblings, Anna, Theo, Elisabeth, Willemien and Cor, grew up in the centre of the village of Zundert, where their father, Theodorus “Dorus” van Gogh, was a minister in the Dutch Reformed church. The maidservant remembered Vincent as the least pleasant of the children. She called him an oarige – Brabant dialect for an “oddball”. Culture played an important role in the house: there were art prints on the walls, the children took music lessons and had a piano, and they were read stories. The rich education they received bore fruit in their adult lives. Vincent maintained a insatiable lifelong love of art and literature, which he often expressed in his letters to his family.
From family traditions the picture emerges that a social life was led in the presbytery. Initially there was a vegetable garden behind the house, but the Van Goghs followed it to a piece of land right next to the cemetery near the church. The Van Goghs’ memories paint a pleasant picture of life at the parsonage. The house was surrounded by a large kitchen garden; there were goats who gave milk, and a family dog. The children usually played in the garden. Vincent and his brother Theo built sand castles there; he recalled the memory years later, when he was teaching in Ramsgate:
“We go to the beach often; this morning I helped the boys build a sand-castle like those we made in the garden at Zundert.” Read the complete letter
Vincent loved to wander the fields surrounding the village. The habit seems to have led to his lifelong affinity for nature and love of solitary walks that enabled him to get away from it all.
From 1862 to 1864, Vincent may have been tutored at home by the governess Anna Birnie, with help from his father Dorus van Gogh. Yet the family evidently wanted him to be educated elsewhere; in autumn 1864, he left home for the first time to go to boarding school in Zevenbergen and then to secondary school in Tilburg. He sometimes made day trips home. Vincent finally came home in 1868 and lived at the parsonage for one and a half year. He then left to take up his first job in The Hague.
Relevant letters from Vincent
No relevant letters found so far.