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I was glad to get your letter of today, and the enclosure,
and thank you very much for both.
It seems to me that up to now Mother's recovery is very
satisfactory in general. And that there is less and less
immediate danger, and that it is more and more reduced
to a question of time.
Nevertheless - Mother will certainly not be quite the same
after the fracture is healed. I believe that the effect on her,
and the unavoidable countereffect on Father, will be that it
will prove to have pushed them a long way into old age.
Under the circumstances I was glad to be at home, and as the
present accident has pushed some questions (in which I differ
from Father and Mother) entirely into the background, we get on
pretty well; and the result may be that I shall stay more and
longer at Nuenen than I thought possible at first. As a matter
of course I shall be able to lend a helping hand, especially
later on when Mother will have to be moved more often, etc.
Since the panic of the first days has calmed down a little,
I can do my work pretty regularly.
Every day I am busy painting studies of the weavers
here, which I think are technically better than the painted
studies done in Drenthe, which I sent you.
Those subjects of the looms, with their rather complicated
machinery with a little figure sitting in the middle, will also
lend themselves to pen drawings, I think, and I will make some,
according to the hint you gave me in your letter.
Before the accident happened, I had settled with
Father that I should have free board and lodging here for some
time, so that I might use your money to pay off some bills at
the beginning of the year. And the money you sent on New Year's
Day and about the middle of January was lying ready for that.
But as I gave it to Father when the accident happened, this
time it will be those colour bill's turn. The more so because
Father has had a windfall, as Uncle Stricker sent him 100
guilders, which I think very kind of Uncle S.
So, as far as the money goes, I have not profited from being
And I am firmly resolved to carry on the work
After about a year Father will feel more keenly the
financial difficulties which Mother's accident cannot fail to
bring in its train. Therefore, in the meantime let's try to do
something with my work. After all, Father and Mother
personally will be secure for life, Father's pension being
equal to his present salary. But, brother, the poor
sisters - without capital at a time in our society when the
inclination to marry a penniless girl is not great - for them
life might remain dark and dreary - and their normal
But let's not anticipate things.
It is difficult to say in advance how the constant lying
still in bed will influence Mother's health.
All precautions we can take to prevent bedsores are, of
course, of the greatest importance. We have made a kind of
stretcher to move Mother if necessary, but at present the less
it happens the better. The most important thing is for her to
Taking her difficult situation into consideration, I am glad
to say Mother's spirits are very even and bright. And she is
amused by trifles. The other day I painted for her a little
church with the hedge and the trees (like this).
You will easily understand that I love the scenery here.
When you come, I shall take you into the cottages of the
weavers. The figures of the weavers, and the women who wind the
yarn, will certainly strike you.
The last study I made is the figure of a man sitting at the
loom, the figure apart, the bust and hands.
I am painting a loom of old, greenish, browned oak, in which
the date 1730 is cut. Near that loom, in front of a little
window which looks out on a green plot, there is a baby chair,
and a baby sits in it, looking for hours at the shuttle flying
to and fro.
I have painted that thing exactly as it was in reality, the
loom with the little weaver, the little window and the baby
chair in the miserable little room with the loam floor.
Please write me some more details about the Manet
exhibition; tell me which of his pictures are there. I have
always found Manet's work very original. Do you know that
article of Zola's on Manet? I am sorry to have seen so very few
of his pictures. I should especially like to see his figures of
nude women. I do not think it exaggerated that some people, for
instance Zola, rave about him, though I, for my part, do
not think he can be reckoned among the very first of this
century. But his is a talent which certainly has its
raison d'être, and that is a great thing in
itself. The article which Zola wrote about him is published in
the volume Mes Haines. For my part, I cannot agree with Zola's
conclusions, as if Manet were a man who opens a new
future to modern ideas of art; I consider Millet, not
Manet, to be that essentially modern painter who opened a new
horizon to many. Goodbye. With a handshake in thought,
Yours sincerely, Vincent
Love from all. Write to Mother a little more often,
letters are such a distraction.
At this time, Vincent was 30 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 24 January 1884 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 355.
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