Vincent van Gogh drew and painted a series of works of his mistress Sien during their time together in the Netherlands.In particular, his drawing Sorrow is widely acknowledged as a masterwork of draftsmanship, the culmination of a long and sometimes uncertain apprenticeship in learning his craft.Commonly called Sien Hoornik, Clasina Maria Hoornik (1850 - 1904) lived with Van Gogh during much of his time in The Hague from 1881 to 1883.
On 12 November 1904, aged 54, she threw herself into the Schelde river and drowned, fulfilling a prophecy she had made to Van Gogh in 1883: "Yes, I'm a whore ...
it’s bound to end up with me jumping into the water." In the summer of 1881, Van Gogh fell in love with his recently widowed cousin, Kee Vos Stricker.
He proposed marriage, but was rebuffed with an adamant "no, nay, never" ("nooit, neen, nimmer").
Undeterred, he nevertheless continued to press his attentions despite the increasing dismay and disapproval of his family which eventually led to his leaving the family home for a while to study drawing at The Hague with his cousin-in-law Anton Mauve.
Van Gogh made drawings and paintings of Sien and her daughter, baby and mother over that period, which reflected the domestic life and hardships of the working poor.
Their relationship was not accepted by his family or supporters, although his brother Theo did not withdraw his support over it.
It did contribute undoubtedly, however, to a split with Anton Mauve, a cousin-in-law and noted painter of the Hague School, who had introduced Van Gogh to painting as well as supporting him financially, and whom Van Gogh revered.
Sien resumed her life as a seamstress, cleaning woman and likely prostitute before marrying in 1901.
Mauve was a successful and noted artist, a leading member of the Hague School and a master colorist whose paintings found a ready market both home and abroad.
He had married Van Gogh's cousin, Ariëtte (Jet) Carbentus, in 1874 while she was still very young and he was already established and successful, and as such was lionised by the Van Gogh family.
At the time, he was busy with his massive Fishing Boat on the Beach that he was preparing for the next year's Salon, but he nevertheless found time for Van Gogh to advise him on his drawings, inviting him to return in a few months time to review progress.