An allusion to The pilgrim’s progress
(1678) by John Bunyan
. The complete title reads: The pilgrim’s progress from this world to that which is to come
. In his sermon, Van Gogh referred to this image a number of times. Cf. also his appreciation for the book, as expressed in letter 99
. The pilgrim’s progress
was very popular among English Protestants. It recounts the journey of the protagonist, Christian, whose goal is to reach the city of Zion. On the advice of Evangelist, he embarks on a journey that takes him to a series of allegorical places – the House Beautiful, the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Doubting Castle and so on – on his way to the sought-after Celestial City. Each character and place in the dream is given an appropriate name: thus Christian meets the goodly Hopeful and Faithful, the cheating Mr Legality and the evil Giant Despair. The second part is the story of Christiana, Christian’s wife, who is moved to undertake a similar pilgrimage.