Nothing Sure, Yet Much Unhappily

“Ophelia (The Suicide)” by Constantin Meunier (1860-70) @ Through Vincent’s Eyes exhibit

“It’s bound to end up with me jumping in the water.” Prophetic words from Clasina Maria “Sien” Hoornik, a prostitute, seamstress, model and mistress of Vincent van Gogh’s — and the only woman to move in with him (along with her 5 year-old daughter and her unborn child, who she would ultimately name Willem — Vincent’s middle name).

“I don’t want her to feel abandoned and alone for a moment longer… I feel a tender love for her and hold her children dear … [We should marry] otherwise hardship will make her take the same road that ends in the abyss”.

Vincent van Gogh, Letter to Theo

They attempted to share a life, for a brief time. Like virtually all of his relationships, regardless of gender, it did not end well. Apparently a number of Vincent’s friends, cousins, mentors abandoned him because of his commitment to Sien. They were both poor, she gave him gonnorhea which sent him to the hospital, and they were each moody and miserable in their own way. Your classic toxic relationship where everybody sees it but you.

Finally it was his brother, Theo, who convinced Vincent to leave the relationship. Van Gogh went off to paint in the Netherlands (Drenthe) and Sien went back to tailoring, cleaning, and likely prostituting.

She was found drowned in the Schedle river on November 12, 1904, fourteen years after van Gogh died.

Shot on Pixel 6 Pro, black and white filter.

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