van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Emile Bernard
(c. 4 August 1888)
My dear comrade Bernard, I see I forgot to answer your question as to whether Gauguin is still in Pont-Aven. Yes, he is still there, and if you should like to write to him, I am inclined to think he will be pleased. He has been staying there till now, but he will probably join me here before long, as soon as he himself or both of us can get the money for the journey. I don't believe that this question of the Dutch painters, which we are discussing at the moment, is without interest. As soon as virility, originality, naturalism of whatever kind come into question, it is very interesting to consult them. But I must speak to you again first of all about yourself, the two still lifes you have done and the two portraits of your grandmother. Have you ever done anything better than that, and have you ever been more yourself and a personality? I think not. The profound study of the first thing which came to hand, of the first person who came along was enough to create really. Do you know why I like ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(17 October 1888)
My dear Theo, I am overjoyed to hear what you tell me of your two new friends. 1 But all the same it amazes me that you tell me about them and their frame (at, if my memory serves me, 2000 fr.) and never a word of what was inside that frame, nor a single word of what they had done in the way of painting. Perhaps it is because you think that I may have heard of them, but I declare it is the first time I have heard of this business, and even of the men themselves. So being ignorant of things, I should like to ask, “Yes, yes, so much for the frame, but what was there inside it, and what are they actually doing?” After that I shall certainly be better able to get some idea of what their conversations with you and Pissarro were, once I have some notion of what they themselves are doing. In any case it proves one thing, that the Dutch artists have spoken of you as the dealer in impressionist pictures, and we must not lose sight of that. Then what did they tell you of Dutch art, Breitner and Rappard and others, and ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(22 May 1889)
My Dear Theo, The letter I have just received from you gives me great pleasure. You tell me that J. H. Weissenbruch has two pictures at the exhibition - but I imagined he was dead - am I wrong? Certainly he's a mighty good artist and a decent big-hearted fellow too. What you say about “La Berceuse” pleases me; it is very true that the common people, who are content with chromos and melt when they hear a barrel organ, are in some vague way right, perhaps more sincere than certain men about town who go to the Salon. If he will accept it, give Gauguin the copy of “La Berceuse” that was not mounted on a stretcher, and Bernard also, as a token of friendship, but if Gauguin wants the sunflowers, it is only fair that he should give you something you like equally well in exchange. Gauguin himself liked the sunflowers better later on when he had been looking at them for a good while. What you also have to know is that if you arrange them this way, namely “La Berceuse” in the middle and the two ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 2 November 1889)
My dear Theo, Enclosed I send you a list of paints which again I want as soon as possible. You gave me great pleasure by sending those Millets. I am working at them zealously. Because I haven't been seeing anything artistic, I was getting slack, and this has revived me. I have finished the “Veillée” and am working on the “Diggers” and the “Man Putting on His Jacket,” size 30 canvases, and the “Sower,” smaller. The “Veillée” is in a colour scheme of violets and tender lilacs with the light of the lamp pale lemon, then the orange glow of the fire and the man in red ochre. You will see it; it seems to me that painting from these drawings of Millet's is much more translating them into another tongue than copying them. Besides that, I have a rain effect going and an evening effect with some big pines . And also one of the falling leaves . I am very well - except for a great depression sometimes, but I am feeling well, much better ...
Letter from Theo van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(16 November 1889)
Letter T20 Paris, 16 November 1889 My dear Vincent, Enclosed I am sending you a letter from Gauguin which he sent me for you. The forest he speaks of in this letter has arrived too. What an excellent workman he is! This one has been executed with a care which must have cost him an enormous amount of labour. The figure of the woman especially, in polished wood, is very fine, whereas the surrounding figures are in rough coloured wood. It is obviously bizarre, and does not express a very sharply defined idea but it is like a piece of Japanese work, whose meaning, at least for a European, is equally difficult to grasp, but in which one cannot but admire the combination of the lines and the beautiful parts. The general effect has a very “sonorous” tone. I should very much like you to see it. You would undoubtedly love it. This week I went to see Bernard, who showed me what he had done recently. In my opinion he has made much progress. His drawing is less definite, but it is there for all that. ...

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