An Early Watercolor: Coalmine in the Borinage

One of Van Gogh’s first watercolors was Coalmine in the Borinage, completed sometime between July-August of 1879.   In January of 1879, Van Gogh had taken a temporary post as a missionary lay preacher in Petit Wasmes and Cuesmes, villages in the coal mining district of Borinage, Belgium.  Van Gogh was completely committed to helping the miners, even to the extent that he shared their hardships and lived in squalor like a pauper.  Church authorities thought him too zealous and discontinued his mission for “undermining the dignity of the priesthood.” It was around this time that Van Gogh took a special interest in ordinary working people and the scenes surrounding him.  …..

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