Enclosed I am sending you two photographs, later on you will
get two more of weavers.
I intended to have twelve photographs taken - a series of
Brabant scenes, including the six I am making for Hermans.
I intended to send them to some illustrated papers, to try
to get some work, or at least to become known.
But I have given up the idea, as the photographer only
produces copies that do not render the real chiaroscuro, or
hardly do; besides, he retouches much and badly, and yet very
often leaves dark what is light in the picture, and vice
However, I will have another photo taken of the weavers in
carte-de-visite size only, because being so far away from the
illustrated papers here, I must find a means to get connections
in another way than by words.
This winter I hope to make several drawings, particularly of
the same compositions, and to send them, for instance, to the
London News, which you may have noticed is now often
better than the Graphic, and among other things, has just
reproduced a very beautiful Frank Holl, and a beautiful
landscape with sheep.
But I shall get over it again, especially as I have fairly
good news from Utrecht.
But I am still very anxious because I am afraid it will be a
long time before she has entirely recovered.
Perhaps it will be a long time before I get over it too. I
always regret, Theo, that I am standing on one side of a
certain barricade, you on the other, which barricade is not
actually visible any more as a structure of paving
stones, but which certainly does exist socially, and will
continue to do so.
In that lithograph by Daumier or Lemud, whichever it may be,
the principal subject is a person whose story I remember.
There were two brothers, and they were standing on the
same side, and both were killed one after the other, for
the same cause.
That might have occurred in our case, but now I am almost
sure it will never happen. I, for my part, know well enough
that the future will always remain very difficult for me, and I
am almost sure that in the future I shall never be what people
I think that Father also feels it is fatality rather than
downright intention when there is sometimes such a decided
difference of opinion between us. But I wish that I didn't
hit other people, that Father had not been standing
right in front of me at times. Well, sometimes I think
that at all events painting can prevent worse things, and that
otherwise it would be even worse. For the future, I have no
other plans now than to continue my Brabant subjects till I am
far enough along to sell them in Belgium, for instance, or
Then, when I have some firm footing, I should like to go
back to the miners once again.
I ask you, not to sympathize with my work, but whenever you
know of some resources, tell me so. Rappard has been both in
Drenthe and in Terschelling again, and seems to have got a good
crop of studies. Probably he will come here again in October
for some time. Goodbye,
Ever yours, Vincent
The picture of the sower is as large as that of the woman
spinning; the colour of the soil is neutral but just a little
pink, light green farther on. The blouse of the man is blue,
and his trousers, brown. The gaiters are dirty linen, I think
in the picture the head stands out better against the sky than
in the photograph.
Just listen, Theo, as to that barricade, you know there was
a time in my life when I also stood with the Guizots, etc.
But as soon as I had enough of it, you know how I turned
away with energy and persistence.
The younger people now do not want me, however ; all
right, I don't care; as men, and as painters, I like the
generation of about '48 better than those of '84; but from
those of '48, not the Guizots, but the revolutionaries,
Michelet - and also the peasant painters of
You must decide for yourself what you are going to do about
it, but I myself cannot swallow everything. Your apparent
indication in your letter that Goupil & Co. are specialists
in Millet and Daumier is really too outrageous. Do you really
think I am such a dullard as to believe such enormities? In
most cases G. & Co. lagged behind with the original
artists; well, I know just as well as you what kind of fellows
their protégés have been. One of Goupil's best
strokes of business is that in recent years they have pushed
various Dutchmen such as Maris, Mauve, and that was
particularly on N. G.'s initiative. Their having Breton is to
all intents and purposes a separate question. But at the time
when Millet, Dupré, Corot, Daubigny were young,
tell me - did Messrs. Goupil & Co. concern themselves very
much with them??
Breton, this you know, is personally rather different from
Millet and Corot and I can well understand that Goupil &
Co. consider him “less disagreeable as a man.”
Daumier - especially the way Daumier was in his earlier days -
when I recall this and set against it the Guizotlike character
of father Goupil as he was then ... believe me, it
amuses me to think of this contrast.
Goupil & Co. has always been a bit orthodox, and has
been rather in the habit of looking down on other houses, as if
they were something better than the other dealers - well, it
was and is tweedledum and tweedledee.
I believe that Millet and Daumier were ignored by
practically all art dealers. Once an art lover
said of the way the dealers acted with Corot's studies the
excellent always escapes them, l'excellent leur
échappe toujours. And this remark is shrewd.
Usually their opinions are commonplace generalities - like
those of Joseph Prudhomme in Monnier's book.
But speculating on this is tedious, for you as well as for
I have just read Mother's note. I am glad you can see from
it that I speak less and less to them about what is going on
between us. I tell them that everything is all right, and I
shall go on telling them so until I say just as succinctly that
we have concluded that our affairs were diverging too much.
This is true. You belong to Goupil & Co. And Goupil &
Co. will certainly not do anything with my work for years to
come. In the meantime, I ask you, is it possible for me to
reconcile myself to making absolutely no progress, which is
what you lead me to expect?
There is something I want to ask you: Why doesn't Cor go to
Goupil's just as you and I started life there when we were his
age? I hear of a plan to leave him at the Secondary School for
a year or two longer - I hear of a luminous idea, suggested in
sober earnest by Father, of making a consul of him. And this
although nobody in this house, nor any of those with whom
preliminary correspondence has been carried on about this
matter, has the faintest idea what a consul actually does.
I am not in the least interested in this business, but I
think that this consulate is somewhat similar to the conception
of the old lady here in the village, who thinks the mounted
constabulary such fine fellows to look at. But I am quite
surprised I never hear Goupil's mentioned with reference to
Cor. Why is this? Especially as you stick to them, methinks it
would be the obvious thing for Cor to enter the firm too. Later
on you will be company and a help to each other - and at any
rate he would be in a better position, learn more, see more,
than as a “consul” or in a “notary's
office,” and so on, or in the “Post Office,”
all highly genteel occupations, and much of a muchness. As for
Cor himself, as far as I know he has no distinct idea whether
he would like to take up this job or that, seeing that probably
he has not looked at anything at close quarters, except books,
the country road, etc. At present I think him a nice boy, but
it is certainly time for him to do something practical, as I
see it, for otherwise such fellows are apt to go to seed,
particularly if they get into too dull an office - go to seed,
I mean, with respect to self-sufficiency and becoming a
At this time, Vincent was 31 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written late September 1884 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 380.
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