One of the causes of my sometimes thinking of moving might
be eliminated in another way. Yesterday and the day before I
have been strolling around the neighborhood of Loosduinen. I
walked from the village to the beach, and found lots of
cornfields there, not so beautiful as those in Brabant, but
there must be reapers, sowers and gleaners, all those things
which I have missed this year, which was the reason for my
occasionally feeling the need for a change.
I do not know whether you have seen that region. I had never
been there before. I painted a study there on the beach. There
are some sea dikes or moles, piers, jetties, and very
picturesque ones too, made of weather-beaten stones and
wickerwork. I sat down on one of them and painted the rising
tide till it came so near that I had to move my things in a
hurry. Between the village and the beach are bushes of a deep
bronzed green, tangled by the sea wind, and so striking that
more than once one thinks, oh, now that's the
“Buisson” by Ruysdael. A streetcar is running there
now, so it is within easy reach when one has equipment or wet
studies to carry home.
This is a scratch of the path to the beach.
My thoughts were with you all during the walk.
I know you will agree with me that the dunes around The
Hague and Scheveningen have lost much of their typical
character in the last ten years, and are getting another, more
frivolous aspect, more and more each year.
Going back, not only ten, but thirty, even forty or fifty
years, one comes to the period when they began to paint the
dunes, etc., in their true character. At that time things were
more Ruysdael-like than now.
If one wants to see things with a Daubigny, a Corot
atmosphere, one must go farther, where the soil is almost
untrodden by bathing guests, etc. Undoubtedly Scheveningen is
very beautiful, but nature is no longer untouched there;
however, that same untouched quality of nature struck me
enormously during that walk I told you about.
This will give you an idea of the pier.
Rarely has silence, has nature alone impressed me in such a
way recently. These very spots where nothing is left of what
one called civilization, where all that is definitely left
behind, these very spots are those one needs to get calmed
But I would have liked to have you with me, because I think
you would have had the same impression of being in surroundings
such as I imagine Scheveningen must of been at the time when
the first Daubignys appeared, and I found those surroundings
full of a strong, stimulating vigour inducing one to undertake
some manly work.
When you come, it will perhaps be fun to go there together,
with no civilization around us, only a poor rickety shell cart
on the white road; and for the rest, shrubs that look, every
one of them, like the “Buisson” by Ruysdael.
The landscape itself very simple, flat: stretches of ragged
dune soil, hardly undulating.
I think if we were together on that spot, it would put you
and me into a mood such that we would not hesitate about the
work, but feel decisive about what we have to do. Was it a
chance harmony of my rather gloomy mood with those
surroundings, or shall I find the same impressions there again
in the future? I don't know, but when I again feel the need to
forget the present and to think of the time when the great
revolution in art began, of which Millet, Daubigny, Breton,
Troyon, Corot are the leaders, I will go to that same spot once
I wish you could see it; perhaps when you come we might take
a stroll there together - the streetcar brings one to
Loosduinen in a moment, it even goes as far as Naaldwijk now.
Those level grounds behind Loosduinen are exactly like Michel -
and the lonely beach too.
Though, after our last letters, I think less about the
future than about the present, and I still hope that when you
come we shall decide that I shall make a number of small
watercolours for you, and perhaps some small oil paintings,
just as an experiment.
If I could only manage to have money enough to carry on my
painting vigorously this year.
That walk, all by myself, far away in the dunes, has quieted
me by making me feel as if I had not been alone, but had had a
talk with one of the old painters from that time when Daubigny
I shouldn't be surprised if you also remember that spot once
you had walked there.
While writing this letter, I have started a watercolour of
that bush; I painted a study of the other thing - the jetty -
so at all events I have a souvenir of the walk, which I can
show you when you come. And if you like, we can take a walk
For the rest, I am not entirely myself yet; perhaps my
judging from the which is troublesome enough to make curing it
urgent. But enough of this.
This is as far as I wrote yesterday. Now today - Monday - I
can tell you that fortunately the torn banknote has been
accepted in Paris, and I have lost but little on it, having
cashed 23 guilders in all.
Now I have to talk something over with you which I hope you
will approve of. In a previous letter I told you my definite
opinion that it would be unwarranted for us not to try to
profit by the wholesale prices of the colours, instead of
always paying the regular retail price, in this way losing 33
1/3%. But because you didn't answer this year, I thought that
it would perhaps be difficult to order things in Goupil and
company's name that were destined for more private use, and on
my side I made some arrangements, which I had already started
tentatively before, in order to get the same thing without your
being involved, and I hope for heaven's sake that you do not
doubt its practicability.
You know that I give lessons to a land surveyor; well, his
father has a drug store and deals in colours, has Paillard's
colours in stock, and Mauve is a customer. I never got anything
for those lessons to the son except many assurances of goodwill
from the father. And availing myself of these, I spoke to him
as follows: that undoubtedly he had in stock a certain number
of unsaleable tubes. That I could use them, however, but would
take them only at Paillard's wholesale price, provided that in
the future he would sell me the popular tubes on the same
At first he made some objections; then he looked over his
stock, and we made the above arrangement. I take about 300
tubes from him, including several carmine and ultramarine, at
less than Paillard's wholesale price (10 guilders less
on the whole lot, which, at Paillard's wholesale price, would
cost more than 50 guilders), so that those 300 tubes cost me 40
guilders. Besides, it gives me the right to order in the future
all colours I need at Paillard's wholesale price, thus saving
33 1/3%. I have that reduction not only on the oil but also on
We can talk it over when you come. Of course I needn't take
or pay for those 300 tubes all at once, but in as many
installments as I like, monthly for instance. But I am glad of
it, because 33 1/3% will make a great difference, especially in
the long run. In this way it will be easier for me to continue
For the moment I have about seven
watercolours of this summer landscape. I used part of the money
you sent to buy myself some nourishing food, but I do not have
much appetite, as my stomach is upset, and I am afraid it will
be some time before I get over it. I shall be glad when you
come, I think it will be good for many reasons.
I hope you will be able to send the usual amount again by
the first of August.
At all events I am glad I have some painted studies to show
you when you come.
I have a model, a peasant boy, who lives here in the
neighborhood, with whom I have already spoken about painting
studies. For instance, he could manage to leave with me very
early in the morning, and go quite far into the dunes. Adieu,
all best wishes. Believe me,
Yours sincerely, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 30 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 29 and 30 July 1883 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 307.
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