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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Anthon van Rappard
Nuenen, 2nd half September 1884

Nuenen, 2nd half September 1884

Amice Rappard,

I wrote you today and your letter from Terschelling crossed mine.

I am greatly pleased to hear that you are going to bring back rather a lot of things from your trip, and from what you say about your studies I am confident that you will bring along useful things. I still regret that I have not seen that picture “Fish Market,” even in its first stage. 1

Well, I'm damned sorry I didn't see the picture itself in its first stage.

All the same I did not lose sight of the fact - as you suppose - that it is you who are making the picture, not I - but I base my argument on something you will hardly deny, namely that you are making a PICTURE.

And a picture - whoever the artist may be - you or anyone else - should express preferably one thing only and that quite clearly.

Speaking of Van der Weele, I remember saying to him about the picture which he got a medal for in Amsterdam - and this contrary to the opinion of others - that I greatly appreciated his having succeeded so well in preserving the unity of STYLE despite all the different things that appeared in it, and that it really and truly was a picture, i.e. something quite different from a realistic study from nature.

But - after all - I know nothing of your original concept, except from that hasty little sketch, and I don't doubt in the least that there will be praiseworthy things in it. But all the same I stick to what I said, and I want to point out again that I am afraid that your foreground, for instance, cannot carry all the things standing in it - it will either become paint or else unfixed and woolly - what is called mou. This very summer the same thing happened to me with a weaver's interior that I could not go on with because the whole thing came too much to the forefront - because the picture began with what ought to have been the second plane - the first plane, the solid foundation, was missing. And I reproached myself in the same way that I am now speaking to you.

It is something that happens very often to nearly all painters, and it may happen that it can be remedied only by transferring the whole to a larger canvas.

By the way, do you know “Ordered off” by Frank Hol in the London News? I brought it back from Utrecht together with a “Shepherd” by Thompson.

Good-by. I hope you will come in October; if possible, write in advance the exact date when you are coming.

With a handshake,

Ever yours, Vincent

1. See letter 369 to Theo.


At this time, Vincent was 31 year old
Source:
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Anthon van Rappard. Written 2nd half September 1884 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number R46.
URL: http://webexhibits.org/vangogh/letter/14/R46.htm.

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