Antwerp, December 1885
At the end of 1885, aged thirty-three, van Gogh moves to Antwerp, seeking an urban environment and the company of fellow artists. In January 1886 he sits the entrance exam for the advanced classes at the École des Beaux-Arts and when he found out about his rejection, he was unperturbed. Inspired by Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Hals, he creates a series of superb and lively portraits, characterised by his rapid technique. Urban motifs in the city’s port and the hectic activity of the stevedores and sailors appealed to him and were his main themes.
Reference book: BRUG A. (2004), van Gogh, Munich: Prestel