I received your last letter and the enclosure in good order
and thank you for it with all my heart. I was and am even now
rather hard up, that is to say, in regard to painting. There
are so many, many expenses. This is partly because so many
things that I start turn out wrong, and then one has to begin
anew, and all the trouble has been in vain - except that after
all, this is the way to make progress, and one must
In your last letter there was no answer to what I asked you
about, whether or not to send the painted studies. Perhaps you
forgot all about it. So I thought that after all it is not a
question of real importance, and today I sent you a painted
study by mail. But as I told you in my last letter, of course I
would much rather that you saw them all together; and of course
you can't judge the future from the one, as I have been
handling the brush for too short a time not to expect great
I would rather have sent you something else, but the one I
would like to send is not dry enough to be rolled. Like myself,
you will find much to criticize in the background. I can only
give this explanation for it, the study is made as a study of
the foreground, that is, the tree roots; there had already been
so much work on them, and as usual I didn't sit quietly because
of the passers-by, and when I had brought the study as far as
you see it now, I couldn't stand it any longer.
You cannot imagine how irritating and tiring it is when
people always stand so close to you. Sometimes it makes me so
nervous that I have to give up. So yesterday morning, though it
was still very early and I had hoped to be left alone, a study
of the chestnut trees in the Bezuidenhout (which are so
splendid) turned out all wrong for this reason. And people are
sometimes so rude and impertinent. Well, but it is not just the
disappointment it causes, but also the waste of materials. Of
course such things will not get the better of me, and I shall
overcome them just as other people do, but I feel I should
reach my goal much more quickly if there were less of those
Now as for this study; if when looking at it and knowing
that I have many more besides this one, you do not regret
having enabled me to make it, then I shall be satisfied and
shall continue with good courage. If it is a disappointment to
you, you must remember that it is such a short time since I
began painting. If it pleases you, so much the better for me,
for I want so much to send you something that gives you
If people come to see me, well, then their impression is at
least original, but I do not like opinions which are based on
what people say.
I was really very glad to see Father and to talk to him. I
again heard a great deal about Nuenen; that churchyard with the
old crosses. I cannot get it out of my head. I hope I shall be
able to paint it someday. I also heard a great deal about your
visit, and that you gave them that engraving after
Israëls, which greatly touched them.
I should have liked to send you a marine too, but the last
one is not quite dry. I might have sent the first one, but
since then I have caught the colour of the sea better, and so
I'll wait until one of the last ones is dry. I have painted
much more lately than I originally intended and than I agreed
on with you. But perhaps it is necessary to keep on doing it,
if at all possible.
I have just received a letter from Rappard. I wish he lived
a little nearer.
And remember that I want to hear your criticisms exactly as
you think. I often feel the longing and need to ask someone's
advice on different questions, but I do not give in to it after
what happened with Mauve, and I do not talk to painters about
my work. Somebody may be remarkably clever, but what use is it
to me when he tells me to do things differently from the way he
does it himself? I would rather Mauve had told me something
about the use of body colour instead of saying, “Under no
circumstances must you use body colour,” whereas he
himself and all the others almost always use it, and with the
best results. Well, in many cases, one will eventually be able
to find out things for oneself, and that is what I try to do.
Yes, if I could do exactly what I wanted, I should undertake
painting on an even larger scale, and especially with more
When I don't paint, I draw from the figure a great deal.
In this study the figure is there only for the size, so that
I shall be able to find the proportions of some other figure
when I use this study. Of course a real figure is quite
different; it presents many more difficulties. Then it is also
there to give a little accent.
So please understand, brother, that I am sending you this
only because I didn't know what to do, as you didn't write
about it. Of course a real figure is quite different from this,
and I send it the same way I sometimes send you a little
sketch, to give you an idea of what I am making.
Adieu, a handshake in thought.
I took a walk on the Rijswijk road with Father; it is very
beautiful there. Again farewell, and believe me,
Yours sincerely, Vincent
If this one arrives in good condition, it will be an easy
way to send you things. I don't know if one can send drawings
or pictures by mail as printed matter.
Another thing, you understand that I could do with some
little branches, etc., differently if I painted them anew; but
in my opinion one mustn't change too much in studies which must
be used later. They must be put up in the studio just the way
they come from the wood; to some people they may look less
pleasant, but for the painter himself there is more of his own
impression in them.
At this time, Vincent was 29 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 25 September 1882 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 234.
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