Vincent van Gogh Drawings, Hidde Nijland collection.
“I will get back on top of it anyway, I will get back to work with my pencil, which I had thrown aside in my great despondency, and I will start drawing again …” Letter to Theo 136/157 September 24, 1880
Vincent van Gogh was, as you call it, a tormented soul. Did he not understand the world or was it the other way around? Didn’t the world understand him? When you read his letters to Theo, the sentences about his work naturally leave a deep impression. His passion and unwavering diligence drag you along. The letters also report on his eternal money problems and the people with whom he could not get along. Many quarrels characterize his life. Yes, socially he was a bit sloppy. This did not always benefit his work.
After roaming in London, Paris and the Borinage, he finally ended up with his parents in Neunen. He first aspired to a career as an art dealer at Goupil & Cie. Later he tried to become a pastor. Only in Belgium did he really start to draw and paint. Because he rejected this work himself, he threw away the most. So very little is left of it. He arrived in Neunen on December 5, 1883. He had no money to pay for models. So he painted the people from the village. He recorded the harsh peasant life.
A year and a half later, Vincent’s father died. Pastor Theodorus van Gogh collapsed after a long walk on the heath. “With the doorknob in hand”. Shortly thereafter it was rumoured that Vincent had conceived an illegitimate child with the farmer’s daughter Sien de Groot. She regularly posed for him. Andreas Pauwels, the pastor of the Catholic Church, forbade his parishioners to be a model for Vincent any longer. She only told Vincent who the real father was. On her deathbed, she got absolute from the pastor. So getting pregnant without getting married was forgiven her.
His paintings first stayed with his mother, Anna Carbentus van Gogh, in Nuenen. When she moved to Breda, they were sent afterwards. Money had to be found to package them well. An inheritance offered a solution. When Anna finally left for Leiden, the crates with artworks remained. They were forgotten in an attic and eventually ended up with Jan Couvreur. He sold many drawings as old paper. He gave away paintings or sold them for a very small amount. Nobody knows how many there were or what was destroyed. You can read about what happened to Vincent’s work during that period in Dr’s Kees Wouters excellent research: “Gek van van Gogh”. Sorry only in Dutch. But you can use translate and get an impression.
“Vincent’s drawings were also valuable. For an exhibition organized by the “Haagsche Kunstkring” in February and March 1895, a folder with early drawings, owned by the Dordrecht art collector Hidde Nijland, was insured for no less than 15,000 guilders. That would now be a quarter of a million Euros, which you pay these days, for a single drawing (study) by Vincent. The collection involved a total of hundred drawings, mainly works from Vincent’s Ettense period. But she was not from Jo Bonger. She was the widow of brother Theo. Nijland had assembled his ‘drawings and doodles of Vincent van Gogh under his own strength in less than three years. ”