Letter From Vincent Van Gogh

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download


world best painters Letters


<p>1</p> <p>Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh The Hague, 22 January 1882</p> <p>Highlighting art - equipment - Turn off highlighting</p> <p>Sunday evening Schenkweg 138 (near Ryn station) Dear Theo, It is true I wrote you only yesterday, but I thought I would write you again. For though I still have a dose of courage left, it is sometimes very hard always to show a good face to Mauve and Tersteeg and others. Yet I must, for though I do not pretend to be carefree, I need not tell them all the details and particulars. But it happens often enough that I am quite at a loss as to what to do. Now this morning I felt so miserable that I went to bed; I had a headache and was feverish from worry because I dread this week so much, and do not know how to get through it. And then I got up, but went back to bed again; now I feel a little better, but I wanted you to know that I did not exaggerate in yesterday's letter. If only I continue working hard, it will not be long before I earn something with my work; but meanwhile I am greatly harassed by scarcity of funds. Besides, I still have relatively few drawing materials, or else defective ones. For the present it is sufficient - I have my paintbox and easel and brushes; but, for instance, this week my drawing board warped like a barrel because it was too thin, and my easel also got damaged in delivery, which is bad enough. Well, there are a lot of things which I still want to or have to improve; of course it needn't all be done at once, but daily it causes small expenses which, added together, worry me a great deal. Sometimes my clothes need repairing, and Mauve has already given me a few hints about that too, which I shall certainly carry out; but it cannot all be done at once. You know my clothes are chiefly old things of yours which have been altered for me, or a few have been bought ready-made and are of poor material. So they look shabby, and especially all my dabbling in paint makes keeping them decent even more difficult; it is the same with boots. My underwear is also beginning to fall apart. You know that I have been without means for a long time already, and then many things get dilapidated. And sometimes one involuntarily becomes terribly depressed, if only for a moment, often just when one is feeling cheerful, as I really am even now. That's what happened this morning; these are evil hours when one feels quite helpless and faint with overexertion. I think it was really because I</p> <p>2</p> <p>had arranged with Mauve about what I would do with a model out-ofdoors, and then all at once I thought, Perhaps I cannot do it because in two days I shall not have a cent left, and than Mauve will think I was afraid. So I got up again to write you once more because I felt so anxious. Having to think about too many other things against my will hampers me so much in my work; even when I am in front of my model, I do not know how I shall pay him or whether I shall be able to go on the next day or not. And I must, I must be calm and quiet in order to work - it is difficult enough anyhow. And especially now I must keep up my spirits; but I felt so clearly this morning that my strength was failing me, not my ardour or my courage, and therefore I'm telling you once more. I can quite imagine that you also have your difficulties, but I think some arrangement might be made with Tersteeg which would settle everything. Now that I can work at Pulchri with a model two evenings a week, perhaps four days with the model would be enough if necessary; and now I have found that old woman, it needn't be so expensive as it was at first when I had a new one every day. For I have already had several models, but they are either too expensive or they think it's too far to come here, or they make objections afterward and do not come back. But I think I have hit on the right one in this old woman. Yesterday I had a lesson from Mauve on drawing hands and faces so as to keep the colour transparent. Mauve knows things so thoroughly, and when he tells you something, he exerts himself and doesn't just say it to hear himself talk; and I exert myself to listen carefully and to put it into practice. Yesterday I told Mauve again that it was so necessary for me to earn something, but I will not ask him for money, as he gives me something that is much better than money; and besides, he has already helped me with my furniture, and that is more than enough. Now that I have written you, I will set to work again tomorrow full of confidence. When you were in Etten last summer, you spoke about my working in watercolours. At that point I didn't even know how to start it. Now the light is beginning to dawn, and in spite of everything, the sun is rising. Well, adieu, Theo, receive a handshake in thought and believe me, Yours sincerely, VincentAt this time, Vincent was 28 year old</p> <p>3</p> <p>Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh The Hague, 3 June 1882</p> <p>Highlighting art - equipment - Turn off highlighting</p> <p>Relevant paintings:</p> <p>Dear Theo, Today, Saturday, I am sending you those two drawings, Fish Drying Barn in the dunes at Scheveningen, and Carpenter's Workshop and a Laundry (seen from my studio window). I have been thinking of you very often lately, and also of that time long ago when, as you remember, you visited me once at The Hague, and we walked together along the Rijswijk road and drank milk at that mill [see Letter 10]. It may be this has influenced me somehow when doing these drawings; I have tried to draw the things as naively as possible, exactly as I saw them before me. Looking back on those days of the mill, how sympathetic that time always seems to me; however, it would have been impossible for me to put what I saw and felt on paper. So I say that the changes time brings do not alter my basic feelings; I think they are just developed in another form. My life, and perhaps after all yours, too, is not as sunny now as it was then; but I would not go back, because through that very trouble and adversity I have seen some good arise, namely the ability to express that feeling. Rappard was greatly pleased with a drawing similar to one which C. M. has, and also with all the others I drew for C. M., especially the large one of the little yard. And he is a man who understands my intentions, and who appreciates all the difficulties. I think you would find Rappard greatly changed since his first visit to Paris, when you knew him.</p> <p>"Fish drying barn," Vincent van Gogh [Enlarge]</p> <p>"Backyards," Vincent van Gogh [Enlarge]</p> <p>"The Coastguard," Herkomer [Enlarge]</p> <p>"Homeless and Hungry," Fildes [Enlarge]</p> <p>4</p> <p>In front of me is a book, an illustrated Household edition of Dickens. Those illustrations are splendid, they are drawn by Barnard and Fildes. There are some parts of old London in it which, on account of the peculiar wood engraving, have quite a different aspect from, for instance, the Carpenter's Shop. But I believe that the way to acquire that strength and power is quietly to continue observing faithfully. As you see, there are already several planes in this drawing, and one can look around it and through it, in every nook and cranny. It still lacks vigour - at least it is far from having as much of that quality as those illustrations, but it will come by and by. I have had news from C. M. in the form of a postal order for 20 guilders but without one written word. So I do not know as yet whether he will give me a new order, or whether the drawings are to his liking. But in comparison with the price paid for the first one, 30 guilders, and taking into consideration that this last parcel (the first contained 12 little ones, this one contained one small one; 4 like those I am now sending you; 2 large ones; so 7 pieces in all) was more important than the first, it seems to me that C. M. was not in a good mood when he received them, or that for some reason or other they did not please him. I will readily admit that to an eye that is accustomed to watercolours exclusively, there might be something crude in drawings in which one has scratched with a pen and lights have been rubbed out or put in again with body-colour. But there are people who are not afraid of that crudeness, just as there are people who think it sometimes pleasant and invigorating for a healthy man to take a walk during a storm. Weissenbruch, for instance, would not think these drawings unpleasant or uninteresting. As things are, I should like to know whether C. M. would care to order new ones. Of course I will not or cannot force them on him, but I hope that when you come here, you will find out how things stand. Of course I am content with 20 guilders, particularly because I left it to him to fix the price; but I had thought that he would not give me 10 guilders less for these than for the previous lot. If he approves of my beginning another 6 or 12 drawings for him, I shall certainly do so, because I shall not let any opportunity to sell something pass. I shall try my best to please him, for if it only pays my rent and makes things somewhat easier for me, it is worth while. But he himself had spoken of paying more rather than less for more elaborate drawings. And if I mention it, it is after all because I want to know what to do in case of a</p> <p>5</p> <p>possible new order or no order at all. It may also be that he will write about it himself later on. One of these days when I have time, I shall send you a little list of my collection of wood engravings. I am sure you will like them. If it is true that last winter I have spent less for paint than other artists, I have spent more on making an instrument for studying proportion and perspective, the description of which can be found in a book by Albrecht Drer, and which the old Dutch masters also used. It makes it possible to compare the proportion of objects near by with those on a more distant plane, in cases where construction according to the rules of perspective is not possible. And when one tries to do it with the eye alone - unless one is an expert and very far advanced - it is always hopelessly wrong. I did not succeed in making the instrument at once, but I managed it at last, after many efforts, with the help of the carpenter and the smithy. And after more efforts, I see a chance to get even better results. I should be very pleased if you perhaps had in your wardrobe a discarded coat and pair of trousers fit for me. For when I buy something, I do my best to get things which are as practical as possible for working in the dunes or at home, but my street clothes are getting very shabby. And though I am not ashamed to wear common clothes when I go out to work, I am ashamed indeed of gentlemen's clothes that have a shabby genteel air. But my work clothes are not untidy at all, just because I have Sien to take care of them and make the necessary small repairs. I close this letter by repeating that I hope so much the family will not regard my relation with Sien as an intrigue, which it isn't at all. This would disgust me beyond words, and raise the barrier between us still higher. What I hope is that people with a certain untimely wisdom will not meddle in order to prevent my living with her. You speculated about an inheritance, but that is quite out of the question; there is nothing for me to inherit that I know of. There cannot be anything I think, for there is nothing; in my opinion they have literally no money at home. The only person from whom I might have inherited in quite different circumstances, because I am named after him - Uncle Vincent - is someone whom I have been on decidedly bad terms with for years, for various reasons; and things cannot be redressed as though I were his protg. Certainly I wouldn't wish it, and of course such a thing wouldn't occur to him, though I hope that if we meet by chance, like we did last year, we shall not have a public quarrel. And now, with a handshake,</p> <p>6</p> <p>Yours sincerely, Vincent WOOD ENGRAVINGS</p> <p>Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh Arles, c. 14 March 1888</p> <p>7</p> <p>Highlighting art - equipment - Turn off highlighting</p> <p>Relevant paintings:</p> <p>My dear Theo, I thank you very much for your letter, which I had not dared to expect so soon, as far as the 50fr. note which you added was concerned. I see that you have not yet had an answer from Tersteeg. I don't think that we need press him with a new letter. However, if you have any official business to transact with B. V. &amp; Co. in The Hague, you might mention in a P. S. that you are rather surprised that he has in no way acknowledged the receipt of the letter in question. As for my work, I brought back a size 15 canvas today. It is a drawbridge over which passes a little cart, standing out against a blue sky - the river blue as well, the banks orange coloured with grass and a group of women washing linen in smocks and multicoloured caps. And another landscape with a little rustic bridge and washerwomen also. Finally an avenue of plane trees close to the station. Altogether 12 studies since I've been here. The weather here is changeable, often windy "Avenue of Plane Trees with turbulent skies, but the almond trees are near Arles Station," beginning to flower everywhere. I am very happy Vincent van Gogh that the paintings are going to the Independents. [Enlarge] You are right to go to see Signac at his house. I was very glad to read in today's letter that he made a more favourable impression on you than the first time. In any case I am glad to know that after today you will not be alone in the apartment. Remember me kindly to Koning. Are you well? I am better myself, except that eating is a real ordeal, since I have a touch of fever and no appetite, but it's only a question of time and patience. "Langlois Bridge at Arles with Women Washing," Vincent van Gogh [Enlarge]</p> <p>"Gleize Bridge over the Vigueyrat Canal," Vincent van Gogh [Enlarge]</p> <p>8</p> <p>I have company in the evening, for the young Danish painter who is here is a decent soul: his work is dry, correct and timid, but I do not object to that when the painter is young and intelligent. He originally began studying medicine: he knows Zola, de Goncourt, Guy de Maupassant, and he has enough money to do himself well. And with all this, a very genuine desire to do very different work than what he is producing now. I think he would be wise to delay his return home for a year, or to come back here after a short visit to his friends. But, my dear brother, you know that I feel as though I am in Japan - I say no more than that, and I still haven't seen anything in its usual splendour yet. That's why (even though I'm vexed that just now expenses are heavy and the paintings worthless), that's why I don't despair of the future success of this idea of a long sojourn in the Midi. Here I am seeing new things, I am learning, and if I take it easy, my body doesn't refuse to function. For many reasons I should like to establish some sort of little retreat, where the...</p>