Thanks for your letter and the enclosed. I was in Etten
again when I received it; as I told you, I had arranged this
with Mauve. But now you see I am back again in The Hague. On
Christmas Day I had a violent scene with Father, and it went so
far that Father told me I had better leave the house. Well, he
said it so decidedly that I actually left the same day.
The real reason was that I did not go to church, and also
that if going to church was compulsory and if I was
forced to go, I certainly should never go again out of
courtesy, as I had done rather regularly all the time I was in
Etten. But oh, in truth there was much more at the back of it
all, including the whole story of what happened this summer
between Kee and me.
Was I too angry, too violent? Maybe - but even
so, it is settled now, once and for all.
I went back to Mauve and said, “Listen, Mauve, I
cannot stay in Etten any longer, and I must go and live
somewhere else, preferably here.”
Well, Mauve said, “Then stay.”
And so I have rented a studio here, that is, a room and an
alcove which can be arranged for the purpose, cheap enough, on
the outskirts of the town, in Schenkweg, ten minutes from
Mauve. Father said if I wanted money, he would lend it to me if
necessary, but this is impossible now, I must be quite
independent of Father. How? I do not know yet, but Mauve will
help me if necessary, and I hope and believe you will too, and
of course I will work and try as hard as I can to earn
I am in for it now, and the die is cast. At an inconvenient
moment, but how can it be helped?
I must have some simple furniture, and besides, all my
expenses for drawing and painting materials will increase.
It is a risky affair, a question of sink or swim. But
someday I should have had to set myself up, so what shall I
say? It has happened sooner than I expected.
It will be a hard pull for me; the tide rises high, almost to
the lips, and perhaps higher still - how can I know? But I will
fight my battle, and sell my life dearly, and try to win and
get the best of it.
January 1 I shall move into the new studio. I will take the
simplest furniture, a wooden table and a few chairs. I would be
satisfied with a blanket on the floor instead of a bed. But
Mauve wants me to get a bed, and will lend me the money if
As you can imagine, I have a great many cares and worries.
But still it gives me a feeling of satisfaction to have gone
so far that I cannot go back again; and though the path
may be difficult, I now see it clearly before me.
Of course I must ask you, Theo, if you will occasionally
send me what you can spare without inconveniencing yourself.
And send it to me rather than give it to others, for if it is
possible, we must not get Mauve mixed up in the financial
affairs. His helping me with advice in art matters is already
of such enormous value. But he insists on my buying, for
instance, a bed and a few pieces of furniture. He says, I will
lend you the money if necessary. And according to him I must
dress somewhat better and not try to skimp too much.
I will soon write you at greater length. I will not
consider it a misfortune that things have gone so far; on
the contrary, notwithstanding all kinds of emotions, I feel a
certain calm. There is safety in the midst of danger. What
would life be if we hadn't courage to attempt anything?
I have been walking around everywhere to find that studio,
in town as well as in Scheveningen. Scheveningen is terribly
expensive. This studio costs only 7 guilders a month - it's the
furniture that makes it so expensive. But once one has a house
of one's own, it is a good possession and gives one a more
solid footing. The light comes from the south, but the window
is large and high, and I think the room will look very pleasant
after a while. You can imagine that I feel quite animated. How
will my work be a year from now? If I could only express what I
feel! Well, Mauve understands all this, and he will give me as
much technical advice as he can - the things which fill my head
and my heart must be expressed in drawings or pictures.
Mauve himself is very busy with a large picture of a fishing
smack drawn as far as the dunes by horses.
I think it delightful to be in The Hague, and I find so many
beautiful things here, I must try to express something of it.
Adieu, boy, a handshake in thought and write soon, believe
Yours sincerely, Vincent
Kind regards from Mauve and Jet.
I have a little money left, but how long will it last? I
must stay at the inn until January 1. Address your letters, A.
Mauve, Uileboomen 198. I go there almost every day.
At this time, Vincent was 28 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 29 December 1881 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 166.
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