After Van Rappard’s criticism of Van Gogh’s lithograph ‘The Potato Eaters’ in 1885 Vincent had enough of it. He ended their friendship that started in 1880.

Both Van Rappard and Van Gogh liked to paint laborers with dignity, but where Van Rappard technically followed the conventional rules of the academy, Van Gogh’s mind was more free and explored emotional expression. They showed interest in each other’s work, Van Rappard often being a mentor for Van Gogh. Vincent learned from Van Rappard's criticism; it motivated him to improve his technique, but he finally chose to follow his artistic heart.

Today 139 years ago, on 17 or 18 November 1882,

Vincent van Gogh wrote to Anthon van Rappard from The Hague:

"I have little time for writing, but nevertheless want to say first that I believe your comments about drawing mistakes in that lithograph are correct, and now I noticed them too.”

That lithograph could be 'Old man' or ‘Sorrow'. Admitting mistakes in the drawing, it is probably ‘Old man’, as he was happy with the result of ‘Sorrow'.

Sorrow
The Hague, 1882
Lithograph on paper
49,9 cm x 38,8 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

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Did Van Rappardโ€™s criticism motivate Van Gogh?Van Gogh's 'Sorrow'

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