Van Gogh's Nuenen Walking Tour, Eindhoven

Van Gogh's Nuenen Walking Tour (Self Guided), Eindhoven

The small town of Nuenen, located practically a stone's throw from Eindhoven, is a very old Dutch locality that shot into significance as the inspiration behind many of the works by Vincent van Gogh. The painter lived and worked here for 18 months, from December 1883 to May 1885. During this period he created many paintings capturing the images of local people (peasants, weavers, etc.) such as, most famously, "The Potato Eaters", as well as buildings.

Overall, there are more than 20 locations in Nuenen associated with Van Gogh. The artist came to this town shortly after his father became a pastor at the local church, currently known as the Van Gogh Church.

Vincent regularly went out and about during his stay in Nuenen. On these walks, he would see many mills (windmills and watermills), which he would sketch or paint. One such, the Roosdonck Windmill, featured in a total of seven of Van Gogh's paintings, still exists and is an official Van Gogh monument.

In the central park of Nuenen there is the statue of Van Gogh, depicting him out on a walk, plus a group sculpture of the "Potato Eaters" installed nearby, with a special "Van Gogh" chair, sitting on which one can imagine themselves being a great painter. The Vincentre Museum, featuring a number of interactive exhibits, is located directly in front of the house where the artist lived.

The mill, the church, and the house have been preserved just like they were during the Van Gogh time, making the viewer feel like a character in one of his paintings and affording pretty much the same experience as the artist himself had in his day.

If you are artfully engaged and curious to find out how Vincent van Gogh lived and painted, a visit to this lovely town will give you the opportunity to experience his color palette and the bond that he had with Nuenen. To explore some of the town's most notable Van Gogh locations on foot and to see things through the eyes of Van Gogh, following in his footsteps and getting up close and personal with one of the greatest masters of all time, take this self-guided walk!
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Van Gogh's Nuenen Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Van Gogh's Nuenen Walking Tour
Guide Location: Netherlands » Eindhoven (See other walking tours in Eindhoven)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Author: Cathy
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Sint Clemenskerk (Saint Clemens Church)
  • The Potato Eaters Sculpture
  • Van Gogh Statue in Nuenen Central Park
  • Salon Nune Ville
  • Van Gogh House and Studio
  • Van Gogh Monument
  • Van Gogh Church
  • Roosdonck Windmill
1
Sint Clemenskerk (Saint Clemens Church)

1) Sint Clemenskerk (Saint Clemens Church)

Saint Clemens Church is a Catholic church constructed in 1872 in the heart of the Nuenen village. The architect who worked on the design of the church was Carl Weber and he executed the structure in Neo-Gothic style. The base of the church is cross-figured, like most of the churches in the area. The facade of the building is an octagonal tower which reaches almost sixty meters.

The pride of the present religious site are the ancient bells, the biggest ones dating from 1490 year and weighing in at 1420 kilograms. In 1972, when the church celebrated its 100th anniversary, it was exposed to some grand restorational works. The interior is ornate with a splendid altar, saints' statues and two organs.

Van Gogh rented a studio next door the Saint Clemens Church for 75 guilders a year and the church appeared in one of his painting and in a drawing.
2
The Potato Eaters Sculpture

2) The Potato Eaters Sculpture

The Potato Eaters Sculpture recreates the oil painting of the famous Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. The sculpture is housed in a small park in Nuenen, near the Vincenter, the Van Gogh House and Studio. The bronze sculpture in life-sized form was created by artist Peter Nagelkerke and unveiled in 2015.

The display includes Vincent's chair, an imagining of Van Gogh's perch as he viewed and painted the peasants. Tourists are welcome to sit in Vincent's chair or even join the potato eaters for a photo.

Van Gogh created "The Potato Eaters" while living in Nuenen. His inspiration for the work was the peasants he interacted with in the city. He used real peasants for models, making his art as realistic as possible. The painting is considered to be one of Van Gogh's best masterpieces.
3
Van Gogh Statue in Nuenen Central Park

3) Van Gogh Statue in Nuenen Central Park

Nuenen Central Park, otherwise simply referred to as Het Park (The Park) by locals, is a public garden of triangular shape, which is often regarded as the historical center of the town (although it isn't). Nonetheless, this oasis of greenery, with benches, a nice pond, a bridge, and a pretty fountain in the middle, is a regular scene of public gatherings. Also adding to its appeal are several nearby cafes and bars, one of which is named after Van Gogh.

Speaking of Van Gogh, in 1984, a statue of the painter was erected inside the park to mark the centenary of his stay in the town, from 1883 to 1885. The unveiling of the monument took place on 30 March 1984.

The sculpture was commissioned by the "Nuenen-100 Years of Van Gogh" Foundation and was created by the Dutch artist Klaas van Rosmalen. It is based on Van Gogh's self-portrait in a gray hat. The sculptor intended to reflect the natural state of the artist as he used to walk around the town in search of inspiration.

The statue is set on a plinth made of a two-and-a-half-ton carboniferous limestone that is over 300 million years old (!!!) and was extracted in the southern Ardennes. The memorial plaque on it carries a quote from one of Van Gogh's letters (Letter 368 of 15 May 1884) which reads: "And the Brabant that one has dreamed of, reality sometimes comes very close to that".
4
Salon Nune Ville

4) Salon Nune Ville

Salon Nune Ville in Nuenen is the ancestral home of Vincent Van Gogh's lover, Margot Begemann. The property was built for the Begemann family in 1874. Reverend Begemann and his family moved in. He and his wife soon died, but their three daughters, including Margot, kept living in the house.

In 1884, Vincent moved back in with his parents in Nuenen, where he met the neighbor's daughter Margot Begemann. Vincent and Margot fell in love with each other. They seriously thought about getting married, but the families opposed the relationship. Margot poisoned herself, distressed by all the gossip. She survived, but the relationship was beyond saving.

Van Gosh spent a significant amount of time in the home while living and working in Nuenen. After Van Gogh's death, the house was purchased by his family, restored, and treated as a historically valuable monument.

The home now serves as a residential home with an art gallery. It features works from painters who were contemporaries of Van Gogh. Visitors can view the gallery on Saturday afternoons. An advance notice is required as only four visitors are allowed inside at a time.

In addition to the gallery, tourists of Salon Nune Ville will see portions of the house that function as a 19th-century house museum. Tours of the house show various rooms, including the attic where a Jewish boy was hidden during the World War II.
5
Van Gogh House and Studio

5) Van Gogh House and Studio

The Van Gogh House and Studio is the former home of Vincent Van Gogh. He lived in the home and worked in a studio located in the garden. The Van Gogh House and Studio is part of the Vincente, which is a museum for those interested in learning more about the life and works of Van Gogh.

The museum offers details about Van Gogh and his time in Nuenen. Visitors will learn about his family, personal life, and the other painters who became his friends. The creation of "The Potato Eaters" is covered in detail, including studies of the colors used to recreate the somber, downtrodden atmosphere.

A new expansion to the museum adds Vincent's Light Lab. It is an interactive exhibition that uses light and color to find a more in-depth appreciation of the work of Van Gogh. There is also a planned exhibition space for rotating exhibits.
6
Van Gogh Monument

6) Van Gogh Monument

In December 1929, a special committee was formed in Amsterdam aimed at commemorating the 40th anniversary of Vincent van Gogh's death with a permanent monument. Among those who took the initiative were the architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage and the painter Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan (aka Piet Mondrian). In 1930, it was decided that Nuenen was the best place to install the monument.

The municipality of Nuenen, which was also offered to contribute, after some deliberation allocated to the project 50 guilders. Commissioned to make the statue was Hildo Krop, a talented Dutch sculptor and decorative artist.

The monument was unveiled on Saturday 30 July 1932. Hendrik Wiegersma from Deurne, a member of the founding committee, wrote a speech for the event and read it out during the ceremony. He then offered it for sale for 100 guilders, for the benefit of the poor. In the end, however, he got only 12.5 guilders for it.

The monument represents a plain, dark, round millstone, made from a Bavarian erratic boulder, upon which stands a basalt block, delivered from the south of France, with a radiant, hand-sized, golden sun carved in the upper part. The monument symbolizes the dark Nuenen period in the artist's life, a stark contrast to the bright period that he had in France. On the rim of the millstone is the inscription: "Vincent van Gogh worked in this village, December 1883 to November 1885".

This is the very first monument in the Netherlands dedicated to Van Gogh.
7
Van Gogh Church

7) Van Gogh Church

The Van Goghkerkje (Van Gogh Church) in Nuenen is a Protestant temple located in the picturesque setting of Park Houtrijk, an old villa garden. This Neoclassical-style hall chapel was built in 1824.

Despite its architectural simplicity (rectangular plan with a three-sided closure on the short sides, two bays, and an open turret with a spire on the roof), this church is listed as a national monument for its connection with the Van Gogh family and the artist himself.

One of its ministers was Theodorus van Gogh, the artist's father, who served here from 1882 until his death in 1885. Also, both Vincent and his brother Theo were christened in this chapel.

Vincent van Gogh captured the building on canvas several times throughout his career. In 1884, he painted it for his mother who had been confined to bed following an accident and could no longer attend the services. Later, after his father's death, Vincent added to the painting several figures of peasants in mourning clothes. This painting, called "Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen", was exhibited in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam until 2002, when it was stolen (it was eventually found, in the vicinity of Naples, Italy, in 2016).

Starting from 1963, the church has had a carillon of 18 bells. Earlier, in 1928, a vestry was added. Overall, the building underwent several restorations: in 1955; in 1984 (renovating the roof); and from 2000 to 2009, during which a complete overhaul took place.

Presently, the chapel is used for special ceremonies and cultural events.
8
Roosdonck Windmill

8) Roosdonck Windmill

De Roosdonck (The Roosdonck) is one of Nuenen's most important symbols. It is also a working, round-stone, Bovenkruier-type windmill that is still in use as a corn mill.

From a landscape standpoint, the mill is very beautifully located, reaching a height of 26 meters, north of the built-up area. Vincent van Gogh, who lived in the town from 1883 to 1885, had featured De Roosdonck a total of seven times in his works. Also, perhaps the most famous painting of his Nuenen period, The Potato Eaters, was created in the neighboring cottage.

The mill was built in 1884 by Antonius van Himbergen from the nearby town of Bladel and was initially planned to be a smock (or tower) mill. However, following a tragic accident, during which part of the hull had collapsed, killing one person, it was then remodeled as the current "beltmolen" [belt mill] type. A pile of sand was put around the structure to make it higher. It was also made somewhat narrower than usual, using fewer stones, because of the lack of funds prompted by the accident. The last remaining trace of its first design is the two bricked-up windows in the walls of the drive-in area.

From 1887 to 1930, the mill was used to press oil (using the machinery fitted from the mill of Sint Victor in Heeze). After the Second World War, its wheelwork was replaced with the mechanism removed from the Hoogeind mill in Sint-Oedenrode, which was heavily damaged by the war.

In 1959, due to industrialization and the introduction of other sources of energy, the mill stopped professional production of flour and fell into disrepair. However, after the municipal government bought it in 1970, the subsequent restoration works in 1972, 1984, and 1996 brought the mill back to life.

Since 1995, it has been in private hands once again, simultaneously overseen by the Friends of the Roosdonck who pay for its maintenance. The mill is now open to the public and has on the site a shop that sells a wide range of organic flour products.

Curious fact: a life-size replica of the Roosdonck was built in 2011 for the 'Van Gogh Friendship Park' in Nanjing, China.

Opening Hours:
Saturdays from 10.00 to 15.00, and by appointment.

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles