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Today I have mailed you a drawing which I send to show my
gratitude for all you have done for me during what would
otherwise have been a hard winter. Last summer when you showed
me Millet's large woodcut “The Shepherdess,” I
thought, How much can be done with one single line. Of course I
don't pretend to be able to express as much as Millet in a
single contour. But I tried to put some sentiment into this
figure. I only hope this drawing will please you.
And at the same time you can see that I am hard at work. Now
that I have started, I should like to make about thirty studies
from the nude.
In my opinion the enclosed is the best figure I have drawn
yet, therefore I thought I should send it to you. It is not the
study from the model, and yet it is directly after the model.
You should know that I had two underlayers
beneath my paper. I had been working hard to get the right
contour; when I took the drawing from the board, it had been
imprinted quite correctly on the two underlayers, and I
finished them immediately according to the first study.
So this one is even fresher than the first. I am
keeping the other two for myself, I wouldn't like to part with
You will see from this that it is not without reason that I
wrote you, I would rather not return the money to Tersteeg now;
I need it so much myself, and I think that working hard with a
model is the fastest way to succeed. It is true the model I
have is not so very expensive, but as the expense recurs almost
daily, it is often hard enough for me to pay. Well, arrange it
the way you think best; but if it's convenient, send what you
promised not too late in the month. Adieu, a handshake,
Yours sincerely, Vincent
I think this drawing would look well on a simple grey mount.
Of course I don't always draw this way, but I'm very fond of
the English drawings done in this style, so no wonder I tried
it for once; and as it was for you, and you understand these
things, I didn't hesitate to be rather melancholy. I wanted to
say something like
“Mais reste le vide du coeur,
Que rien ne remplira”
[But there remains the void in the heart
That nothing will fill],
As in Michelet's book.
At this time, Vincent was 29 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 10 April 1882 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 186.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.