Still quite under the spell of your visit, I write you a
word or two, not a little pleased that I can go ahead
vigorously with my painting.
I should have liked to see you off at the station the next
morning, but I thought you had already given me so much of your
time that it would have been indiscreet to ask to see you again
that morning. I am so thankful that you have been here. I think
it a delightful prospect to be able to work a whole year
without anxiety, and a new horizon has been opened to me in
painting through what you gave me.
I think I am privileged over thousands of others because you
removed so many barriers for me.
Of course many a painter cannot go on because of the
expenses, and I cannot express to you in words how thankful I
am to be able to go on working regularly. I began later than
others, and I must work doubly hard to make up for lost time;
but in spite of my ardour, I should have to stop if it were not
I will tell you what I have bought.
At the same time I stocked up on watercolours and renewed my
brushes. Then, for oil painting, I now have everything which is
absolutely necessary, and also a stock of paints, large tubes
(which are much cheaper than the little ones); but you will
understand that I limited myself to the simple colours in
watercolour as well as in oil: ochre (red - yellow- brown),
cobalt and Prussian blue, Naples yellow, sienna, black and
white, completed with some smaller tubes of carmine, sepia,
vermilion, ultramarine, gamboge.
But I refrained from choosing “nice” colours
which one ought to mix oneself.
I believe this is a practical palette with healthy colours.
Ultramarine, carmine, or the like are added when strictly
[Vincent drew a sketch of his palette with the colours here.]
I will begin with little things, but this summer I hope to
practice making large sketches in charcoal, so I can paint them
later on a somewhat larger scale.
And therefore I ordered a new and I hope better perspective
frame, which can be fixed in uneven ground in the dunes by two
poles, in this way, for instance:
[A sketch of him using his perspective frame drawn here.]
What we saw in Scheveningen together - sand, sea and sky -
is something I certainly hope to express sometime.
Of course I didn't spend everything you gave me immediately,
though I must say that the prices of the different things were
much higher than I had anticipated, and on second thought,
there are always more things needed than one at first expected.
If I ask you kindly to send the usual allowance about the
twentieth, it is not because I shall have spent all I have, but
because I think it better to keep something in my pocket, in
case I should need some more things while working - it
guarantees my working in a very quick and orderly fashion.
The moist-colour box fits into my paintbox, so that I can
carry everything necessary for watercolour and painting in
I attach great importance to having good stuff to work with,
and I should like my studio to look well - not with antiques or
tapestry or rugs, but simply because of the studies on the wall
and because of good material; but this will come in time
through hard work. Speaking about the village-policeman-style -
I myself feel less like a policeman than like a kind of Delft
bargeman, for instance, and I have no objection to making my
studio look like a kind of comfortable barge.
You can see this sample has a grain as rough as a piece of
canvas, what you brought has a prettier colour and is
delightful, for studies of banks and ditches or soil, for
instance. But I am very glad I discovered this new kind,
Well, boy, thanks for everything, a handshake in thought.
I'm back to work again. Give my warmest greetings to Father and
Mother; thank them for what you brought me from them, and tell
them I shall write soon, but as we agreed, not about anything
Adieu, I wish you a pleasant time and a good return to your
work, believe me,
Yours sincerely, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 29 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 5 August 1882 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 222.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.