Last night I received your letter with the enclosed 100
francs. I can tell you that, having had less expenses through
my temporary stay here, I am now at a point where I can cover
my last year's deficit.
I draw your attention to this in order that you may see I
hate carelessness in business as much as you do, and that I
make a point of meeting my obligations to other people. And
that I am in no mood to be careless in business matters, on
the contrary, I assure you.
It is my firm intention to try to carry on my work, and you
must not think I work less hard here every day than I used
All's well that ends well, says the proverb. Now, as to the
misgivings I wrote you I felt about continuing to accept money
from you. We can wind up now, at a moment when I can get
off without a deficit; all the more reason for me always to
call the way you dealt with me financially most
generous. And I do not at all pretend it was your fault
that I had a deficit at the end of last year. I only repeat
that I am very glad no bill is left unpaid now.
Supplies of colours and other things have all been treated
honestly and are paid.
Toward the end of January
or in the beginning of February I wrote you that, on my coming
home, I was struck by the fact that the money I was in the
habit of receiving from you was looked upon in the first place
as something precarious, and secondly as what I will
call charity for a poor fool. And I could establish the fact
that this opinion was even communicated to people who had
absolutely nothing to do with it - for instance, the
respectable natives of this region - and I was asked at least
three times in one week by absolute strangers, “Why is it
that you never sell your work?”
Just how pleasant one's daily life can be under such
circumstances, I leave to you to decide.
For my part, I say most decidedly that whatever you may
think of what I have received from you up to now, I for my part
consider it as a thing which I shall pay back if possible.
If I have some luck with my work, I shall most certainly pay
it back. For the present, there can be no question of it, so we
will not mention it.
Toward March I shall send you some watercolours from here.
If you do not want them, I will take them to somebody else,
but I prefer to deal with you.
Those watercolours will have their faults, yet I do not
think it foolish of me to start showing my work, to bring it
before the public's eye.
At a certain moment Rappard did the same, and carried it
through from the very beginning.
I, for my part, do it rather reluctantly, but I must do
So from March on I shall begin to send my work here and
there regularly. And first to you, but do not think yourself
obliged to take anything which you do not really care for.
I should think that in consequence of this, however much our
feelings might differ or come to differ, we should not be
obliged to speak about such things, and still less quarrel over
them, which in my opinion one is obliged to do if one
has a relation with someone like the one we have had up to
I repeat, I should object to continuing on the same
footing. But I should continue our relation in a somewhat
modified way with the greatest pleasure.
I do not say that I want you to look upon the things you
might accept from me as something you must try to sell at
If for the time being you should take my work, not in the
first place in your capacity as a dealer, but more especially
in the quality of one who has it in his heart to do something
for fellows like me, who are only just starting - that is
enough for me.
But after March I will accept no money from you - or at
least absolutely as little as possible - for which I do not
give some work in return.
I should not be able to continue on the same footing
with animation, but I shall start on the new thing with
animation as soon as the old thing is cut off - at least this
is my opinion. If you do not want to entertain the other
proposal, then leave it alone.
I want to feel free with you, but at the same time with
equal sincerity I want you to feel free with me.
If there should be something in my work that pleases you, I
shall feel very happy; and if it should not please you and you
should not want to have anything to do with it, then I should
not be able to say anything about it.
Moreover, whatever the difference in feelings may be, and
the difference over this or that, we are brothers, and I
certainly hope that we shall go on behaving like brothers.
I also hope that you and Father will not thwart me if I take
no other studio for the present than the little mangle room
I shall take another, and not live with Father any longer,
as soon as my work brings in enough money to pay for my taking
a house again.
Since I have been here, not a day has passed, I think, when
I have not been working from morning till night on the weavers
or the peasants; I shall be very glad if you approve of my
proposal. Then extremes will be avoided and we shall keep a
straight course. If you know of a better plan, I shall be glad
to hear it. Goodbye, and thanks for what you sent. With a
Yours sincerely, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 30 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 1 February 1884 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 360.
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