Vincent van Gogh started painting at age 27. After 5 years he painted the Potato Eaters, a dark painting depicting the De Groot family; peasants from Nuenen in The Netherlands. Van Gogh’s most famous paintings like his colorful Starry Night and the bright Sunflowers series were painted only 3 years later in the South of France.

Visiting some of the actual locations that he painted in and around Nuenen helps to understand Van Gogh's incredible artistic development. To see where Van Gogh came from shows his power to create, to reinvent himself and to chase his dreams.

Where is Van Goghs The Vicarage at Nuenen

The Vicarage at Nuenen

After an argument with his father, a pastor of the Dutch reformed church, Vincent van Gogh didn’t see his parents for two years. He moved back in with them at the vicarage in 1883. That wasn’t particularly easy but Vincent got along well with the peasants and weavers in Nuenen and even gave art lessons to locals Willem van de Wakker, Anton Kerssemakers and Antoon Hermans.

The vicarage at Berg 26 is in the centre of Nuenen, opposite the information centre / museum Vincentre at Berg 29. A great start of the tour.

backyard van goghs vicarage nuenen The garden of the vicarage is open to public only a few times a year. It is possible to walk past the garden though and peep through the hedge. You can see where Van Gogh made a drawing from his beautiful backyard.

The Vicarage at Nuenen is part of the permanent collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Where is Van Goghs Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen

Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen

Just a few 100 meters down the street and around the corner at Papenvoort 2 you’ll find the church that Van Gogh painted for his mother as she broke her leg and couldn’t attend church services.

This painting was stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in 2007 and was safely returned in 2017 after it had been found in Naples, Italy. Criminals are usually not the biggest fans of Van Gogh or art in general. They buy stolen masterpieces so they have leverage they can use to negotiate less time in prison.

The church is open for public from April to October on every second Wednesday and last Sunday of the month from 13.30 to 17.00 o’clock.

Where is Van Goghs Old Church Tower at Nuenen

Old Church Tower at Nuenen

1,5 km from there, in the middle of a residential area at Tomakker 2, are the remains of the 12th-century Church and the small cemetery where Vincent’s father Theodorus van Gogh is buried. The cemetery is fenced but you can get the key at museum Vincentre at Berg 29.

Van Gogh made no less than 35 paintings and drawings of this church that was visible from the garden of the vicarage. While Van Gogh lived in Nuenen the church was being demolished after it had collapsed. The church had a special meaning to him:

"I wanted to say how this ruin shows that for centuries the peasants have been laid to rest there in the very fields that they grubbed up in life — I wanted to say how perfectly simply death and burial happen, coolly as the falling of an autumn leaf — no more than a bit of earth turned over — a little wooden cross.”

The Old Church Tower at Nuenen is part of the permanent collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Van Goghs cottage Nuenen

The Cottage (of The Potato Eaters)

The cottage where the De Groot family posed for Van Gogh is gone unfortunately. There is another house now but unfortunately not authentic. In case you want to see it anyway for art historic value; the address is Gerwenseweg 4.

Potato Eaters Nuenen  The Cottage Nuenen

The Potato Eaters and The Cottage are both part of the permanent collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Where is Van Goghs Water Mill at Opwetten near Nuenen

Water Mill at Opwetten

Opwetten is now part of Nuenen and just 2,6 km away from the centre of Nuenen (museum Vincentre). Why not be like the the Dutch and do the tour by bike? For just 10 euro a day you can rent a bike at https://deconcurrentnuenen.nl/fiets-verhuur-nuenen/.

Van Gogh’s painting 'Water Mill at Opwetten’ made in 1884 is part of a private collection but the actual water mill can still be visited. A restaurant is now established at the largest mill wheel in the Netherlands and a break on a sunny afternoon on this terrace may be Noord-Brabant (the Dutch province) at its best.

Vincent van Gogh painted the Water mill at Opwetten with his friend Anthon van Rappard. One year later Van Rappard criticized Van Gogh’s Potato Eaters from a technical point of view and that was the end of their friendship. Van Gogh preferred emotional expression to technical perfection and the world found out what he was capable of.

Where is Van Goghs Collse Water Mill near Nuenen

Collse Water Mill

Another 2,2 km to Collseweg 5, Eindhoven brings you to the Collse Water Mill.

In case you don’t have many days in The Netherlands, you could start the morning with a visit to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Then drive 91,4 km to the Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch where Van Gogh’s painting of the Collse Water Mill resides. Another 38,7 km to Nuenen to see the locations on this page by bike. That would just fit into one big Van Gogh experience day.

While painting the mill, Van Gogh wrote to Anthon van Rappard:

“It’s the same sort of thing as the two other water mills that we visited together, but with two red roofs, and which one views square on from the front — with poplars around it. Will be magnificent in the autumn.”

Where is Van Goghs Gennep Water Mill near Nuenen

Gennep Water Mill

From the Collse Water Mill to the Gennep water mill at Genneperweg 143, Eindhoven is another it’s another 6,7 km. In 1884 Van Gogh made three oil paintings and a watercolor. The one shown above is the oil painting you can see in the Noordbrabants Museum.

Where is Van Goghs Gennep Water Mill in Eindhoven And this one resides in Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.

Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo: "Yesterday I brought home that study of the water mill at Gennep, which I painted with pleasure, and which has procured me a new friend in Eindhoven [Anton Kerssemakers], who passionately wants to learn to paint, and to whom I paid a visit, after which we set to work at once."

Enjoy your trip in The Netherlands! The photos on this page were taken in May 2022. I would love to see your photos of the locations taken at other times of the year.

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