Before the year is up, I feel I have to thank you again for
all your help and friendship.
I haven't sent you anything for a long time, but I am saving
up for the time when you will come here.
I am sorry that I haven't succeeded in making a saleable
drawing this year. I really do not know where the fault
I wish you could come to the studio sometime. I think I
wrote you in my last letter that I am at present drawing large
heads because I felt the need of a more intimate study of the
structure of the skull and the interpretation of the
physiognomy. The work absorbs me greatly, and I found a few
things lately for which I had been seeking for a long time.
Well, whenever you come, you will see everything.
I have two new prints of his,
“Un Train de Plaisir” [Excursion Train], travellers
with pale faces and black coats in rough weather arriving on
the platform too late, among them women with crying babies.
Do you know the little book Croquis à la Plume
[Pen-and-ink Drawings], written by the draughtsman Henri
Monnier (who created Mr. Prudhomme)? In it I read the
“Journey by Coach,” amazingly real.
I suppose you are still busy with your inventory, and I will
not keep you from your work.
My very best wishes for a Happy New Year.
In the New Year shall I succeed better in making saleable
drawings? or in getting some work from an illustrated paper? Of
one thing I am sure, wrestling with nature is no idle work, and
though I do not know what the result will be, there must be
I wish you could come to the studio again - not because I
can't go on or don't know what to do, but mainly because I am
so afraid you will think I am not making progress. And though I
cannot show you any definite result, you would see that it is
slowly developing, and you would see that I am aiming high.
I perfectly agree with what you wrote recently, “There
comes a time when one has mastered drawing so well that the
size makes no difference and one knows the proportions by
heart, so that one can work as well on a large as on a small
scale.” Not only do I absolutely agree with you in this,
but, besides that, I believe that one must, and can, work till
one is master of composition and the effects of light and
shadow, so that in the sphere one has chosen, one can conquer
the most diverse subjects: for instance, draw a first-class
waiting room today, a rainy day in a poor quarter tomorrow,
another time a workhouse, then again a saloon or a soup
kitchen. I am not yet that far - but perhaps it takes a long
time just because I look for the common root or origin of so
Thanks for all your faithful friendship, boy, which has
again upheld me for a whole year. I wish that for my part I
could give you some pleasure, too. Sometime I shall succeed
A handshake in thought. Write me again if you have a moment.
Once more best wishes.
Yours sincerely, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 29 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 28-30 December 1882 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 255.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.