From The Norton Simon Museum of Art:
Having run out of money and job prospects, in late 1883 Vincent van Gogh moved in with his recently relocated family. His residence in the small village of Nuenen, in the southern Netherlands, was not as cloistered as one would expect for a 30-year-old who had lived over the past decade in such cities as Paris, Amsterdam and London. In fact, in Neunen van Gogh found a small group of artists to instruct in painting, and he relished this new artistic community. As he took on the same type of work that he meted out to his students still-lifes and figure studies many of his canvases from this period came to resemble exercises. This carefully ordered composition is one such still life, one of 15 painted in November 1884. With four different vessels set around a centrally placed wine bottle, the balanced arrangement is a study of circular forms and subtle tonalities.
To Theo van Gogh. Ramsgate, Monday, 17 April 1876.
My dear Theo,
I arrived here safe and sound yesterday afternoon at 1 o’clock, and one of my first impressions was that the window of the not-very-large school looks out over the sea.
It’s a boarding school and there are 24 boys between the ages of 10 and 14. Mr Stokes is out of town for a couple of days and so I haven’t seen His Honour yet, but he’s expected back this evening.
There’s another assistant teacher, 17 years old. Yesterday evening and this morning we all took a walk by the sea. Herewith a bit of seaweed.
The houses on the sea-front are mostly built of yellow brick in the style of those in Nassaulaan in The Hague (but taller), and have gardens full of cedars and other dark evergreen shrubs. There’s a harbour full of all kinds of ships, closed in by stone jetties running into the sea on which one can walk. And further out one sees the sea in its natural state, and that’s beautiful. Yesterday everything was grey.
I’m shortly going to unpack my trunks which have just been brought, and hang up some prints in my room. (The assistant teacher, 4 boys and I sleep in another house close by.) It’s the holidays just now, so I haven’t had to give any lessons yet. I’m anxious to see Mr Stokes. I must go out with the boys, adieu. Ever
Your most loving brother