In your letter of February 18 you said, “When Tersteeg
was here, we of course spoke about you and he told me that
whenever you wanted anything, you could always go to
Then why is it that when I asked Tersteeg some days ago for
10 guilders, he gave them to me, but accompanied by so many
reproaches - I might almost say insults - that I could hardly
control myself, though I did. I would have thrown the 10
guilders in his face if the money had been for myself, but I
had to pay the model, a poor sick woman whom I cannot keep
waiting. So I kept quiet. But for six months I will not go to
Tersteeg again, or speak to him or show him my work.
I'm not going to say that to him, but I'm saying it to
Dear Theo, you may say, “You must remain on good terms
with Tersteeg, he is almost like an elder brother to us.”
But my dear fellow, he may be kind to you, but for years he has
only shown his unfriendly and harsh side to me.
He would have the right to reproach me if I did not work,
but it is unjust to someone who toils patiently, hard, and
continuously on a difficult work, to make reproaches like
“Of one thing I am sure, you are no artist.”
“One objection which has great weight with me is that
you started too late.”
“You must earn your own living.”
Then I say, “Stop, watch what you say.”
One cannot always be friends, one must quarrel sometimes. As
to the arrangement between you and me about receiving money
from you, when you come to The Hague, which I hope will be
soon, I want to speak about that with you in Mauve's presence
and with nobody else. Mauve's large picture will soon be
finished, and then I suppose Mauve will give me some hints
about watercolours again.
The substance of what Mauve has said up to now is,
“Vincent, when you draw, you are a painter.”
And therefore I have worked, and worked hard, on drawing, on
proportion, on perspective, for weeks and weeks; Tersteeg
doesn't fully appreciate this and only talks about
“things that don't sell.”
I do not deserve his reproaches, but I will be calm because
I certainly do respect him; therefore I say, After six months
we shall speak to each other again, for six months we shall not
see each other.
If you can, send me the money for this month soon. I am
making progress with my work, but cannot work without money or
with too little.
With a handshake,
Yours sincerely, Vincent
I would rather go without dinner for six months and save in
that way than occasionally receive 10 guilders from Tersteeg
accompanied by his reproaches.
I should like to know what painters would say to his
argument, “Work less from the model because it is
cheaper,” when after a long search one has found models
who are not too expensive.
Working without a model is the ruin of a painter of the
At this time, Vincent was 28 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 5-9 March 1882 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 179.
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