Van Gogh returned to Etten in April 1881 for an extended stay with his parents. 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 him, and had an eight-year-old son. Van Gogh surprised everyone by declaring his love to her and proposing marriage. She refused with the words "No, nay, never" ("nooit, neen, nimmer"). After Kee returned to Amsterdam, Van Gogh went to The Hague to try and sell paintings and to meet with his second cousin, Anton Mauve. Mauve was the successful artist Van Gogh the starry night. 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.
(by Van Gogh Prints)