Vincent was born on March 30, 1853, in the village of Groot Zunbert in the Dutch province of North Brabant. His father, Theodorus, was pastor of a small Dutch Reformed Church. Vincent's mother, Anna Cornelia Carbentus, was a similarly mild and uninspired soul. It is common for biographers to dismiss Van Gogh's parents with a wave of the hand. Vincent had two brothers and three sisters.
At the age of twelve Vincent was sent to boarding school in the village of Zevenbergen, fifteen miles away. At sixteen he left school. Through the influence of Uncle Cent a place was found for him in the office of Goupil and Cie at The Hague. Goupil's was a conservative house, specializing in well-made reproductions of famous paintings. When he was twenty Vincent was transferred, with a fine recommendation, to the London branch of Goupil's. He found a room in the home of Mrs. Loyer, who with her daughter Ursula, and therefore began the first of his several disastrous encounters w...