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Work from Brabant
At the end of April 1890, Van Gogh is recovering from another deep depression. He wants to quickly start working again and decides to rework a few of his figure drawings from his time in Brabant. One of these is At Eternity’s Gate, after a drawing he made in The Hague in 1882, for which he had used a motif from Etten.

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During periods of depression, Van Gogh often feels the urge to rework a drawing or painting. Then he begins to think that he still cannot do enough and that he must continue learning. But he is also curious about how his copy of this work from Brabant will turn out now that he has developed a completely different style.

Modified composition
Sorrowing old man (‘At Eternity’s Gate’) is therefore not a literal copy in colour. Van Gogh modifies the composition and possibly uses elements from the interior of the asylum, such as the chair and the stove. It also seems likely that he asked a patient from the asylum to pose for the old man.

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