Van Gogh returned to Etten in April 1881 for an extended stay with his parents.[54] He continued to draw, often using his neighbours as subjects. In August 1881, his recently widowed cousin, Cornelia "Kee" Vos-Stricker, daughter of his mother's older sister Willemina and Johannes Stricker, arrived for a visit. He was thrilled and took long walks with her. Kee was seven years older than he was, and had an eight-year-old son. Van Gogh surprised everyone by declaring his love to her and proposing marriage.[55] She refused with the words "No, nay, never" ("nooit, neen, nimmer").[56] After Kee returned to Amsterdam, Van Gogh went to The Hague to try to sell paintings and to meet with his second cousin, Anton Mauve. Mauve was the successful artist Van Gogh longed to be.[57] Mauve invited him to return in a few months, and suggested he spend the intervening time working in charcoal and pastels; Van Gogh went back to Etten and followed this advice.[57]

Van Gogh stayed within what he called the "guise of reality",[218] and was critical of overly stylised works.[219] He wrote afterwards that the abstraction of Starry Night had gone too far and that reality had "receded too far in the background".[219] Hughes describes it as a moment of extreme visionary ecstasy: the stars are in a great whirl, reminiscent of Hokusai's Great Wave, the movement in the heaven above is reflected by the movement of the cypress on the earth below, and the painter's vision is "translated into a thick, emphatic plasma of paint".[220]


The adult Broadway cast (Dick, Paul Lynde, Maureen Stapleton) who recreated their roles for the film version of Bye Bye Birdie (1963) were generally disappointed in the film. It was felt that director George Sidney placed far too much focus on Ann-Margret's teen role, a role that was secondary in the stage hit. Ann-Margret was at the time experiencing a meteoric rise in films.
The most comprehensive primary source on Van Gogh is the correspondence between him and his younger brother, Theo. Their lifelong friendship, and most of what is known of Vincent's thoughts and theories of art, are recorded in the hundreds of letters they exchanged from 1872 until 1890.[7] Theo van Gogh was an art dealer and provided his brother with financial and emotional support, and access to influential people on the contemporary art scene.[8]
In November 1959, Van Dyke made his Broadway debut in The Girls Against the Boys. He then played the lead role of Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie, which ran from April 14, 1960, to October 7, 1961. In a May 2011 interview with Rachael Ray, Van Dyke said that when he auditioned for a smaller part in the show he had no experience as a dancer, and that after he sang his audition song he did an impromptu soft-shoe out of sheer nervousness. Gower Champion, the show's director and choreographer, was watching, and promptly went up on stage to inform Van Dyke he had the lead. An astonished Van Dyke protested that he could not dance, to which Champion replied: "We'll teach you". That musical won four Tony awards including Van Dyke's Best Featured Actor Tony, in 1961.[16] In 1980, Van Dyke appeared as the title role in the first Broadway revival of The Music Man.[17]
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