Seeing Sien

My latest venture to the DIA brought me to this piece, “Sorrow”, which model was Van Gogh’s so-called girlfriend, Sien Hoornik, who lived with him in Hague along with her son (who wasn’t Van Gogh’s, for the record). Some reports state that Vincent was near-obsessively generous to her, buying her cigars and other fineries and almost starving himself.

Same articles derisively speak of Sien as an unfortunate chapter in his life, taking him away from the brighter, happier things in life and meeting his hospitality with depression.

As if she was doing it intentionally, and he was caught in her trap.

“How can there be lonely, deserted women in the world?” is inscribed at the bottom of this piece. You almost don’t see it written there, as the sketch is so compellingly honest.

It makes me wonder if instead of her being a trap, maybe Vincent saw her as a project and believed that by saving her, he could somehow convince himself that he could also be saved.

Or maybe I’ve been reading too much of “Passages” by Gail Sheehy.

Shot on Pixel 6 Pro.

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