Vincent van Gogh painted poor people to show his affinity and solidarity with these poor people. Although Vincent’s family was not poor, he was often short of money himself. The peasants in Van Gogh’s famous painting ‘The Potato Eaters' as well as his ‘Almsman’ were poor people. Almsmen received money from the diaconate of the Dutch Reformed congregation.

Today 140 years ago, on 18 November 1881,

Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo van Gogh from Etten:

"Now, old chap, if you send me some ‘travelling money’ you’ll soon receive 3 drawings, ‘Mealtime’, ‘the fire-lighter’ and ‘an almsman’.”

By the ‘almsman’ Van Gogh must mean 'Man sitting by the fireplace'. Almsmen received poor relief from the diaconate of the Dutch Reformed congregation.

Man sitting by the fireplace
Etten, 1881,
Black and red chalk, grey and reddish brown wash, and opaque watercolour on laid paper
55,8 x 44,5 cm
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands

You may also like to read:
Why did Van Gogh paint poor people?Van Gogh's 'Man sitting by the fireplace'

Your daily dose of Van Gogh.

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