Although Vincent has spent a lot of time outside his home country, there are still many locations linked to Van Gogh in the Netherlands. He was born there and has spent his childhood years in the south of the country. This is also where he lived during the first half of his painting career. The Netherlands is home to two museums with the biggest collections of Van Gogh’s work, as well.
I’ve spent a weekend in Brabant exploring places related to van Gogh’s life during my project Follow the footsteps of Van Gogh. Here are some places I have visited, together with my recommendations for the best museums with Van Gogh’s paintings in the Netherlands.
Van Gogh in the Netherlands
I wanted to start my trip, during which I followed the footsteps of Van Gogh, symbolically. So, I started it on Vincent’s birthday – on March 30th in Zundert, a place where he was born. While driving through Brabant, I couldn’t help myself, but look for some motives and colours Vincent showed on his paintings from his Dutch phase.
However, it was a beautiful sunny day, and the only people working on fields were having modern equipment and have looked nothing like his potato eaters.
Vincent van Gogh in Zundert
The first place I visited in Brabant, was a village where Vincent van Gogh was born in 1853 – Zundert. Since his father was a protestant pastor, Van Gogh family moved a lot around the south of the Netherlands because of his job. It was predominantly Catholic region, so Van Gogh family belonged to a wealthier Protestant minority there.
Zundert is a small Dutch village with typical brick houses, filled with trees and colourful flowers. I met with my guide Peter there, and we went on a stroll around Zundert to see some places related to Vincent’s life. Van Gogh’s family house was at the main square, just across the street from the town hall. His primary school was located there, as well.
Vincent Van Gogh Huis in Zundert
Address: Markt 26-27, Zundert
The original house in which Van Gogh family lived isn’t there anymore. But, the Vincent van Gogh Huis museum is located at the same spot where it used to stand. And, its garden is the original one from Vincent’s time.
While I was there, trees just started to blossom. And, although, they became a subject of Vincent’s paintings much later, I couldn’t stop wondering how inspirational those trees were for him.
Vincent van Gogh Huis goal is to encourage young painters to create art inspired by Van Gogh. Just around the corner from the museum, the Artist Residence House is located. They can visit it, live in the village where Van Gogh was born, and create art inspired by his work.
Brasserie Restaurant Van Gogh is located right at the museum garden. It’s an excellent place for a meal in Zundert.TIP: A lovely
The Dutch Reformed Church in Zundert
Address: Vincent van Goghplein 1, Zundert
Just next to the Artist Residence House, you’ll find an old Dutch Reformed Church. It’s a place where Vincent’s father was a pastor. Van Gogh would often go there, listen to his dad’s speeches, and would spend a lot of his time in and around that church.
However, another place linked to Van Gogh in the Netherlands, is there, as well. Vincent’s older brother, which bore the same name, was stillborn and buried there precisely one year before the painter was born. Many researchers of his life say, passing so often next to the grave with his own name on it, must have left a strong negative impact on young Vincent.
Statue of Vincent and Theo van Gogh
Address: Vincent van Goghplein, Zundert
During my search for places linked to Van Gogh in the Netherlands, I stumbled upon many statues of this famous Dutch artist. But the one in Zundert was one of my favourites.
At a small square in front of the church, a beautiful statue created by Ossip Zadkine, showing Vincent and Theo van Gogh, is located. It’s witnessing their brotherly love in such a beautiful way.
Something quite interesting to me during this whole trip was to see how many people were, and still are, strongly inspired by Van Gogh. Artist Zadkine, for example, created several statues of Vincent.
I could also see that while talking with my guides and other people I have met during this trip. One of them was my Zundert guide, Peter. A few years ago, while working on the promotion of their local art festival, he and his colleagues said they’ve found an old recording of Vincent van Gogh visiting Zundert. Something that started as an innocent local joke soon made big news on Dutch television. And later on, international media shared it, as well. Here is a link to their movie.
Vincent van Gogh in Etten-Leur
After lunch at the garden of Vincent van Gogh Huis, I’ve taken a bus to the next place in the Netherlands linked to life and work of Vincent van Gogh.
Etten-Leur is a place where Vincent moved in 1881 and spent the next few months living with his parents. Although he hasn’t lived there for a long time, it’s quite an interesting place, because it is where he officially started to work as a painter. In a document issued after his registration at a local city hall, it’s visible he stated his profession as a painter. However, after being very persistent with asking his cousin Kee to marry him, and getting into many conflicts with his parents, on a Christmas Day in 1881, he left it for good.
Later on, in 1888, while he was in Arles, Paul Gauguin asked Vincent to paint something from his memory. Van Gogh painted a scene from Etten-Leur, which later on became one of his very famous paintings. So, it seems that although he spent only a few months there, that Dutch town bore some lovely memories to Vincent.
After checking in at my hotel Vincents, I went to meet my guide Vincent, who took me on a stroll around that charming Dutch town.
Van Gogh Church in Etten-Leur
Address: Markt 4, Etten-Leur
We first visited the Van Gogh Church that was located just across the street from my hotel. This is a place where Vincent’s father worked as a preacher. It’s used as a gallery today, with different temporary exhibitions organised, and a room with some info about Van Gogh and his life in Etten-Leur.
Behind the church, there is a massive wall with reproductions of Van Gogh’s letters and drawings created in Etten-Leur. I really liked how, in a way, his heritage became public art in this Dutch town. And it’s something incorporated in the life of anyone passing next to it now.
Vincent van Gogh Statue in Etten-Leur
Address: Binnentuin, Etten-Leur
Behind the Van Gogh Church, another statue representing Vincent is located, showing him as a painter. Just next to it, an info sign is placed, with more data about his life and work in Etten-Leur.
TIP: When looking for locations from Van Gogh’s life in the Netherlands, look for these kinds of special signs. They contain some info about those places and reproductions of Vincent’s paintings. You can press the button on them and listen to Vincent’s letters or stories from his life.
Heemkundekring Jan Uten Houte
Address: Markt 53, Etten-Leur
We continue our stroll through this charming Dutch town, and have visited the place next that wasn’t directly linked to Vincent van Gogh. But, it’s very interesting for understanding some of the paintings he has created in Brabant.
In one of the houses in Heemkundekring Jan Uten Houte, there is a room showcasing an interior of a typical Brabant peasant house dating back to the second half of the 19th century. It’s giving a very good idea of how the houses of those peasants, Van Gogh liked to paint so much during his time in the Netherlands, looked like. I could almost imagine his potato eaters sitting around the table in one of the rooms there.
Hotel Vincents in Etten-Leur. It’s located right in the city centre overlooking the square where the Van Gogh Church is. Rooms are excellent, and the restaurant on the ground floor is great!TIP: If you’re going to spend a weekend in Brabant looking for places linked to Van Gogh, stay at the
Vincent van Gogh in Nuenen
After a delicious hotel breakfast, the next morning, I took a train to another place linked to Van Gogh in the Netherlands – Nuenen. That’s a village where Van Gogh lived between 1883 and 1885. And where he created the majority of his paintings while in the Netherlands.
I met my guide, Frans, at the entrance to the village, next to the Opwettense watermill. It’s a picturesque old mill Van Gogh painted on one of his paintings, too. Frans and I had lunch at a cosy restaurant located inside of it. And, after a pleasant conversation about our favourite painter, went on a ride around Nuenen to explore it in the footsteps of Van Gogh.
House where Van Gogh lived in Nuenen
Address: Berg 26, Nuenen
Vincent lived with his parents at a lovely house in the centre of Nuenen. The place still exists today and is in use by Nuenen pastors and their families. So, things didn’t change much since Vincent and his family stayed there.
Standing in front of that beautiful house, and comparing it with Van Gogh’s painting of the same place, brought mixed feelings to me. The dark image of his family home stood in such a contrast with that bright and lovely place.
Vincent’s negative feelings towards that place are so recognisable in his art. He showed how much he disliked it so strongly in his painting.
Although his family belonged to the wealthier Brabant protestants, Van Gogh was much more interested in a life of local peasants. Many of those old peasant houses Van Gogh showed on his paintings, could still be found in and around Nuenen.
One of them, Het Kostershuisje, was recently restored, so you can rent it and spend a night in it. It’s hard to get any closer to Van Gogh in the Netherlands than that. You can see that special place on a photo below.
The Reformed Church in Nuenen
Address: Papenvoort 2, Nuenen
Frans and I continued our walk around that picturesque village. We walked towards another interesting place linked to Van Gogh in Nuenen – Reformed Church. The small building is located right in the centre of the town.
In 1884, Vincent created a painting of that church for his mother. She was sick and couldn’t attend the mass there. So, he brought it to her through his art. A year later, after his father died, he modified the painting and painted people around the church, looking as they are attending the funeral.
The painting is also quite interesting because it was stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2002. It was found in 2016, restored and returned back to the museum.
Vincentre in Nuenen
Address: Berg 29, Nuenen
Across the road of his parent’s house, a small, but a very nice museum dedicated to Van Gogh’s life in Brabant is located. It’s fascinating to learn more about Van Gogh family there.
Paintings created by some of his fellow contemporary painters from the Netherlands are on display there, as well. I especially loved the movie about his life in Nuenen and the way he created his “The Potato Eaters”. At the top floor, there are some photos and more info about his descendants and their approach to his memory. Which was so amazing to see, as well.
Nune Ville in Nuenen
Address: Berg 24, Nuenen
Nune Ville is a house located just next to the one of Van Gogh’s family. It’s a place where Vincent’s lover Margot Begemann lived.
House was restored by the Van Gogh family in the second half of the 20th century. Today, it’s a lovely example of the 19th-century Dutch house. However, it’s also home to a great collection of paintings created by some of Van Gogh’s contemporary painters. House is privately owned today, and it could be visited on certain days only.
here.TIP: For more info about the Nune Ville opening hours, take a look
Signs at locations where Van Gogh painted some of his paintings in Nuenen
Nuenen was a place where Van Gogh lived during most of his early career, and many paintings from his Dutch phase were created there. That’s why many locations on which he made them could still be found there.
Frans and I took a short ride with a car (although, you can easily explore it on a bicycle, too) and have looked for some of them. We’ve found a place where the house of de Groot family once stood. They posed for Vincent quite often as models. They are also depicted on his ‘The Potato Eaters’. We’ve also found a windmill that could be seen on one of his paintings.
That was definitely the most exciting part of exploring Van Gogh’s heritage in Brabant. Not many of his famous paintings are there today. But, you can definitely feel Vincent and understand the meaning behind his paintings, so well. His motives, models, roads and fields he walked through, are still there.
Nuenen has that rural, somehow romantic atmosphere, that almost transports you back in the time when the famous painter lived there. And you really have a feeling as you’re walking into the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh.
Museums with Van Gogh’s paintings in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a great place to learn more about Van Gogh and his art because two museums with the largest collections of his paintings are located there.
Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
Address: Museumplein 6, Amsterdam
Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is a place with the largest collection of his work in the world. Paintings from the Van Gogh family collection are on display there, as well. It’s a wonderful place to learn about his work because the paintings are displayed in chronological order, and you can see so well all the style changes he went through. You can only visit it by booking your ticket online in advance. So, be sure to do that before your visit on a link here.
Address: Houtkampweg 6, Otterlo
Kröller-Müller is the museum with the second largest collection of Van Gogh’s work. It is home to some 90 paintings and around 180 of his drawings. Van Gogh’s paintings are displayed by theme. So it’s interesting to compare different painting styles in his artworks. Some of the most famous paintings they have in their collection are ‘Terrace of a Cafe at Night’ and ‘Portrait of Joseph Roulin’.
Het Noordbrabants Museum
Address: Verwersstraat 41, ‘s-Hertogenbosch
The only museum in Brabant where some of Van Gogh’s paintings could be seen is Het Noordbrabants Museum in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. They have a small collection of Van Gogh’s paintings created while he was living in the Netherlands. It was fascinating to see there some of the objects he has shown on them. Like the oil lamp from “The Potato Eaters” or clothes, peasants were wearing on some of his paintings made in the Netherlands.
It was so exciting to explore some of the places related to the life of Vincent van Gogh in the Netherlands. Seeing some areas where he grew up and started to develop his painting style gave me great insight into his life. And although Dutch museums with his work are wonderful places to see some of his best work, seeing some of the places where he created them in Brabant made me appreciate them even more.
You can read all of the posts from my Van Gogh trip below:
Exploring places linked to Vincent van Gogh
Visiting Kröller-Müller Museum
Vincent Van Gogh in Belgium
Vincent van Gogh in Paris
Vincent Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise
Vincent Van Gogh in Arles
Vincent Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Vincent’s life in the Netherlands was a part of my “Follow the Footsteps of Vincent van Gogh” trip. It was supported and organised by the Van Gogh Europe and Visit Brabant. Many thanks to all of them, lovely guides, Vincents Hotel and everyone else who helped me organise it.