Evidence that Vincent Van Gogh passed by the Marcasse coalmining site can be found in a letter to his brother Theo dated April 1879.
 
 « I went on a very interesting excursion not long ago; the fact is, I spent 6 hours in a mine.
In one of the oldest and most dangerous mines in the area no less, called Marcasse[…].
We went down together, 700 metres deep this time, and went into the most hidden corners of that underworld[…]. Looking upward, the daylight appears to be about as big as a star in the sky ».
 
This visit left a strong, long-lasting impression on him; to the point that, from 1882 on, he would cut off and collect realistic black and white engravings he would find in magazines in The Hague. These printing plates - which illustrated the working conditions of miners and animals, firedamp explosions and the ensuing rescue efforts – served as a basis for his personal creations themed on the universe of coalmining.
 
The Marcasse site belonged to the Compagnie des Charbonnage Belges (Belgian Coalmining Company).
Since the site was shut down in 1954, it has undergone a natural afforestation. A great part of the slag heap and its surroundings have been classified NATURA 2000 natural reserves.
 
The former industrial buildings currently belong to Mr and Mrs Riccardo and Nadine BArberio-Gravis, who regularly organize cultural events there. Visiting the site is also possible, but only on request : riccanad@msn.com.
 
Site de Marcasse
Sentier de Saint-Ghislain, 7
7340 Colfontaine