At the moment I write you, I have almost spent my last
guilder. Well, I hope to hear from you soon, but considering
what you wrote me lately, I think it very possible that perhaps
you will not be able to send the usual amount on the twentieth.
In that case I beg you to send as much or as little as you can
spare, even if it is only a small part of it. I have a model
coming Friday afternoon, a man from the workhouse, and I
wouldn't like to send him away without his money.
I had some extra expenses because my paint box got broken when
I had to jump from a high bank and collect my belongings as
quickly as possible in order to get out of the way of a horse
which had bolted outside the Rhine railway station, where they
It is very beautiful there. I had to ask permission to paint
there, as it is not public ground, and I hope to work there
On that occasion I painted the heaps of coal where the men
were at work and where a horse and wagon stood.
Then I made another study of a little almshouse with a
bleaching green and sunflowers.
It is beautiful outside now - the leaves have all kinds of
bronze colours - green, yellow, reddish - everything warm and
How I wish you could see all my studies together. The studio
already has a different aspect since your visit. I have had
many expenses, that is true, but the walls are now full of
That little almshouse and those heaps of coal were so splendid
that I couldn't keep my hands off them, though I had intended
to draw this week because of the expenses. I should love to
have the kind of things in my studio - it is what I am working
for - which remind me of the country every morning when I see
them. So that I know immediately what to do that day - and at
once feel like doing some particular thing or going to some
As to sending you a painted study someday, I haven't the
slightest objection; but before I do, we must agree on a few
Somebody like Mauve - or any other artist - certainly has his
particular colour scheme, but nobody can get this all at once,
and it doesn't show in studies made in the open air, even with
painters who are much more experienced than I. Especially
Mauve's studies, which I personally like very much, just
because of their soberness and because they are done so
faithfully. Still, they lack a certain charm which the
resultant pictures possess in such a high degree.
With me, for instance, it is such that the marine I recently
brought home is already quite different in colour from the
first or second I did. So you should not yet judge my palette
from what I might send you now. And if I myself would rather
wait until it has become riper before I send you anything, it
is because I believe that my colour will change a great deal,
and the composition, too.
So this is the first reason; and the second is that studies
done in the open air are different from pictures which are
destined to come before the public.
In my opinion, the latter result from the studies, yet they
may, in fact must, differ a great deal from them. For in the
picture the painter gives a personal idea; and in a study his
aim is simply to analyze a bit of nature - either to get his
idea or conception more correct, or to find a new idea. So
studies belong more to the studio than among the public, and
must not be considered from the same point of view as the
pictures. Well, I think you will look at it the same way, and
take these things into consideration of your own accord.
But write me sometime what you want me to do, and know that I
will do what you think best - I'll either send them or I
But what I should like best of all is for you to see
everything together. Is there any chance of your coming again
this winter? If so, I should certainly prefer not to send
anything. Enfin. But I will certainly pay attention and keep in
mind whatever you may say about the work's saleability, and do
not think I underrate your opinion.
I consider making studies like sowing, and making pictures
I believe one gets sounder ideas when the thoughts arise from
direct contact with things than when one looks at them with the
set purpose of finding certain facts in them.
It is the same with the question of the colour scheme. There
are colours which harmonize together wonderfully, but I try my
best to make it as I see it before I set to work to make it as
I feel it. And yet feeling is a great thing, and without it one
would not be able to do anything.
Sometimes I long for harvest time, that is, for the time when
I shall be so imbued with the study of nature that I myself can
create something in a picture. However, analyzing things is no
trouble to me, nor is it something I dislike doing.
Adieu, a handshake in
thought, and write me what I should do - send you a painted
study or wait. And know that I think of you every day and
Yours Sincerely, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 29 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 19 September 1882 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 233.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.