Stolen On March 18, 1990
From Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen was made by Vincent van Gogh in early 1884 for his parents, his father the pastor of the church since 1882. Van Gogh’s mother, Anna van Gogh, was healing from a broken thighbone. Van Gogh wrote to his brother, “Taking her difficult situation into consideration, I am glad to say Mother’s spirits are very even and bright. And she is amused by trifles. The other day I painted for her a little church with the hedge and the trees.” The letter included a sketch with one person in front of the church, a peasant with a spade. X-rays of the painting indicate that Van Gogh later added church members and autumn leaves to the previously bare trees, which made the work more colorful. The changes were not likely made before the fall of 1885. Van Gogh may have added the woman in mourning and congregation members for his mother as a memorial for his father’s death. The painting was stolen from the Van Gogh Museum on December 7, 2002.