Your letter, which I received last night, gladdened my
heart. I had been expecting it, but I thought you were on a
jaunt somewhere. What you say about Drenthe interests me - I do
not know it at all from my own observation, but I do through
the things Mauve and ter Meulen, for instance, brought back
I imagine it is something like Brabant when I was
young - say, some twenty years ago. I remember as a boy
seeing that heath and the little farms, the looms and the
spinning wheels in exactly the same way I see them now in
Mauve's and ter Meulen's drawings. But since then that part of
Brabant with which I was acquainted has changed enormously in
consequence of agricultural developments and the establishment
of industries. Speaking for myself, in certain spots I do not
look without a little sadness on a new red-tiled tavern,
remembering a loam cottage with a moss-covered thatched roof
that used to be there.
Since then there have come sugar-beet factories, railways,
agricultural developments of the heath, etc., which are
infinitely less picturesque.
It can't be helped - but what is sure to remain is something
of the stern poetry of the real heath. And this real heath
seems to exist in Drenthe as it used to in Brabant.
Yet there is an enormous amount of beautiful scenery in
Brabant, even now - do you remember 't Heike,1 where
we were together?
I think the little sketches in your letter very good; I find
much character in that “Churchyard” especially. As
for me, in consequence of a visit from my brother, who saw my
watercolours, I am also very busy painting.
Speaking frankly, I do not think people would conclude from
my first painted studies that they really are my first.
There is nothing strange in it for me, and it greatly
Last night I found a very pretty effect in the meadows near
Rijswijk. Flat green meadows, across which runs a black coal
path with a ditch alongside. The sun is setting fiery red - a
poor peasant is trudging home - in the far distance a
Further, I have a small marine - and patches of dune soil -
a row of pollard willows, a potato field and so on.
Painting is so sympathetic to me that it will be very
difficult for me not to go on painting
It is more virile than doing watercolours, and there is more
poetry in it.
Probably you know that at present there is an exhibition of
the Hollandse Tekenmaatschappij [“Dutch Drawing
Society”] here. There are splendid things
There is a “Woman at a Weaving Loom” by Mauve
that I cannot get out of my mind. A “Poor Old
Woman” by Israëls, the same. Neuhuys, Maris,
Duchâtel [Du Chattel], ter Meulen and a lot of others, to
say nothing of Weissenbruch!
There is an extremely nice portrait of Weissenbruch by
Israëls, so true and characteristic that I cannot describe
it to you.
There is also a beautiful large marine by Mesdag and two
Swiss things by him that I think rather silly, although there
is a certain boldness in them - but not carried through and not
“felt.” But I think the large marine superb.
By Willem Maris, a very striking “Sow” with a
legion of piglets.
And a Jaap [Jacob] Maris, a very large “Town
View,” as vigorous as Vermeer of Delft.
Some time ago we had an exhibition of French art from
private collections: Daubigny, Corot, Jules Dupré, Jules
Breton, Courbet, Diaz, Jacque, Th. Rousseau; this work
stimulated me very much - but for all that I felt a certain
melancholy when I thought how these faithful veterans are
disappearing one by one. Corot is dead and gone, Th. Rousseau,
Millet, Daubigny are resting after their labours. Jules Breton,
Jules Dupré Jacque, Ed. Frère are still there,
but how long will they be going around in their painter's
smocks? They are all elderly men, with one foot in the grave.
And their successors - are they worthy of those first truly
modern masters? All the more reason for us to bestir ourselves
energetically and not to slacken.
I am much pleased with my new studio; I can find my subjects
in the immediate neighborhood. With all my heart I hope you
will come and see me eventually, and I am always eager to see
something of your work, or to read about it in a letter.
My brother also sends you his kind regards; I told him you
were working so hard. The same is true of me in this respect,
so that at present I am writing only a few letters, and I am
writing in great haste now too.
Good luck and success in everything, and believe me, with a
handshake in thought,
Ever yours, Vincent
Or “Het Heike,” literally, “The Little
Heath,” a poor district near Etten.
See the same description in letter 225 to Theo of August
At this time, Vincent was 29 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Anthon van Rappard. Written 13 August 1882 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number R11.
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