Your letter and the enclosure were very welcome, many
thanks. And I was glad to see that you take things calmly,
though I did not expect anything else.
Since I wrote you last I have been drudging very hard on
that drawing of the refuse dump: it is a splendid scene.
The first drawing of it has already undergone so many
corrections; first it was white, then black in all kinds of
patches, so that I copied it on a second sheet, because the
first one was too overworked. And I am working on it anew. I
must get up early in the morning for it, for then I get the
effects I need. If I could only get it the way I have it in my
Well, the second one is of the same size as the two former
ones of the peat cutting and the sand digging, and it fits in
the frame. For the moment it is looking rather good, but I am
afraid I'll spoil it. But one must not be afraid of that
either, otherwise one never succeeds. And meanwhile I made a
large study of a seamstress besides.
But the asylum has been a disappointment in that they
refused me permission to draw there - they said there was no
precedent for it, and besides, they were in the midst of
spring-cleaning, and new floors were being laid in the wards.
Well, never mind, there are more homes for the poor, but in
this one I know a man who posed for me regularly, and that
would have made it easy for me to make sketches. Last winter I
saw the old almshouse in Voorburg. It is of course much
smaller, but almost even more striking.
It was toward evening when I was there, the old people were
sitting on benches and chairs round an old stove, very
Perhaps I'll try that one at Voorburg, since I have no
permission here. I also spent a day at Scheveningen, and saw a
beautiful scene there of men with a cart full of nets which had
been tarred and were being spread out on the dunes.
Someday I must certainly make a large drawing of that or of
mending the nets. It is an improvement, Theo, having
those stretchers and that frame for charcoal drawings, or
whatever, for it is pleasant working with them. I think you are
quite right in what you say about too much intercourse with
painters not being good, but very much so. And for that
reason I am glad Van der Weele is coming.
Indeed, one can have a deep longing sometimes to talk things
over with people who know about one's craft. Especially if each
works and seeks in the same spirit, it is possible greatly to
strengthen and animate each other, and one is not so easily
discouraged. One cannot always live away from one's native
land, and one's native land is not nature alone - there must
also be human hearts who search for and feel the same things.
And only then is the native land perfect only then does one
feel at home.
This now is the composition of the refuse dump. I do not know
how much you can make out. In the foreground, women are
emptying dustbins; behind them are the sheds where the dung is
kept, and the men at work with wheelbarrows, etc. The first one
I made of it was a little different; there were two other men
in the foreground with sou'westers, which they often wear in
bad weather, and the group of women was darker.
But that light effect is really there because the light
falls from overhead between the sheds on the figures in the
pathways. It would be a splendid thing to paint. I think you
will understand all about it. I wish I could talk it over with
Mauve. But perhaps it's better as it is, for it does not always
help to get advice from somebody else, clever though he may be,
and those who are cleverest are not always clever in explaining
things clearly. I repeat, I hardly know myself what is best. In
the first place, painting is not my principal object, and
perhaps I will be ready for illustrating sooner all by myself
than if somebody, who wouldn't think of illustrations at all,
advised me. I get on best of all with Rappard.
Adieu, boy. All best wishes and thank you for your timely
Yours sincerely, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 30 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 10 June 1883 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 292.
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