Van Gogh’s Life in the Dutch Province Brabant

North Brabant in the Netherlands was the most significant region in Vincent Van Gogh‘s life. It was here where he was born, grew up and lived most of his life. While living in Brabant he decided to become an artist. Many of his significant artworks are of the people and landscapes of this region.

The quiet, picturesque, region of North Brabant is literally the place that shaped Vincent as a man and as an artist.

There are seven towns with a historical connection to the Dutch artist. They include Nuenen, Zundert, Tilburg, Helvoirt, Etten-Leur, ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Zevenbergen. Five of these towns proudly celebrate their Van Gogh past.

If you are a Van Gogh fan, these lovely villages should definitely be on your travel itinerary. You can literally follow his footsteps and discover the places where lived, visited and inspired him to paint.

Van Goghs life in Brabant - Painting of a Cottage
Cottage in Brabant – Vincent Van Gogh Painting

Vincent Van Gogh’s Life in Zundert – Places to Visit

Vincent was born in Zundert. It is here where he lived as a child. Today, you can visit his house where he was born called: Vincent van GoghHuis Zundert. The original house was demolished in 1903, but a plaque on the wall of the new building tells you that it was right here where Van Gogh was born and grew up.

 Vincent van GoghHuis Zundert - Van Goghs Life in Zundert
Vincent van GoghHuis Zundert / Photo by Jim Forest on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Today the Vincent van Gogh house is now a museum. It contains a permanent exhibition called ‘Vincent van Gogh – The roots of a master’. This exhibition focuses on Van Gogh’s earlier years and the drawings from his childhood.

There is also an audio presentation about Vincent Van Gogh and his family life. It tells about the special bond between the two brothers, Vincent and Theo. It also highlights the friction between Vincent and his parents.. They did not approve of their son being an artist. Instead they wanted Vincent to financially support himself with a “respectable” job.

When you have finished inside the museum, have a look at the lovely garden outside where Vincent once played as a child.

The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary artists who have been inspired by Van Gogh and his artworks.

After visiting the museum, stroll through the village and go to the church where Vincent’s father preached. You can also visit the grave of Vincent’s other brother who died at birth.

Etten-Leur in Van Gogh’s Footsteps

Vincent van Gogh moved to the small town of Etten (now Etten-Leur) to live with his parents in the spring of 1881. He was 28 years old at the time and had declared that he wanted to become an artist. Up until then, Vincent worked in many different jobs, never succeeding in any of them.

During his time in Etten, Vincent developed a love and appreciation of the landscapes and the working class lives of the local villagers and farmers. His numerous drawings, sketches, and watercolors made here capture the locals and the surrounding countryside.

When painting locals as models, he asked them to pose for him in their work clothes rather than wearing their Sunday best. He wanted to capture them as they were in their everyday life. No one really understood this but many locals and farmers obliged to his strange request.

Here in Etten, you can visit the church where Vincent’s father preached. Inside the church you will see a timeline of Vincent’s life, view reproductions of his drawings made during his period in Etten and also read about significant events that happened here.

Van Goghs life in Etten - His father's church
Church in Etten where Van Gogh’s father preached
© All rights reserved by Davydutchy

Outside and in the church yard is a statue of Vincent. It was created by the sculptor Hendrik ‘Hein’ Vree and erected in 1990 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Vincent’s death.

The Vincent van Gogh Information Center and Van Gogh Church are located at Markt 4

Another wonderful activity in Etten is to hire a bicycle and ride the 49 km Van Gogh cycling route surrounding Etten. This route takes you through the countryside that inspired so many Van Gogh sketches and paintings. Press here for more information.

Van Gogh’s Walking Trail in Nuenen

Vincent van Gogh lived in Nuenen for nearly two years together with his parents when his father received an appointment as the village vicar. During this period, Vincent was extremely prolific. In fact he created nearly a quarter of all his artworks during his two years here. Today there are 23 buildings and rural scenes associate with Vincent. Fourteen of them he immortalized in his paintings and the others he referred to in his letters to Theo.

While walking the Van Gogh walking trail from monument to monument, you will feels like you are walking back in time, and in Van Gogh’s footsteps.

The Church in Nuenen - Van Gogh Painting
The Church in Nuenen – Van Gogh Painting
Van Goghs life in Nuenen - The church
Van Goghs life in Nuenen – The church
Vincent van Gogh’s father was minister here from 1882 to 1885.
Photo by Andrew Black on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Firstly, you should start your visit at the the Vincentre.  The Vincentre is an interactive museum portraying how Vincent lived and painted here. The Vincentre also provides maps so that you can either cycle or walk to all the Van Gogh monuments.

Make sure you do not miss the world-famous Van Gogh-Roosegaarde cycle path. After dark, this 600 meters path lights up, inspired by Van Gogh’s iconic painting “The Starry Night” . The thousands of twinkling lights in the asphalt recharge during the day and emit light in the evening. It is magical!

Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path - celebrating Van Goghs life in Nuenen
Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path
Photo by Studio Roosegaarde on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Noordbrabants Museum

s-Hertogenbosch is a thirty minute drive from Nuenen. Here you will find the Noordbrabants Museum. It is here in this musuem where you can see original Van Gogh artworks. The Pavilion dedicated to Van Gogh showcases many of his ‘Brabant artworks’.

In this museum’s collection, you will see paintings of farmers , his father’s rectory, and the beautiful landscapes of the Brabant countryside.

After the museum, hire a bicycle and ride the Van Gogh cycling route that starts and ends at the museum.

This 30 kilometer route takes you through the beautiful countryside of Brabant. The Dutch artist loved the traditional farming life in Brabant and the places that you will pass on this route are the landscapes that provided him with so much of his creative inspiration. Press here for a map of the route.

North Brabant is a beautiful region in The Netherlands. If you are looking for a hotel surrounded by the landscapes painted by Van Gogh, check out the options below:

For the links below, I receive a small commission when you purchase. Please note that you do not pay more when you buy through my site.

Looking for a guided tour to take you to some of the Van Gogh sites? Press below for details:

If you love reading, I recommend a fantastic historical fiction novel called “Lust for Life” by Irving Stone. This book beautifully portrays Vincent Van Gogh’s life, including his years in the Brabant region.

As an Amazon Associate I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase through this link