I am still greatly under the impression of what has just
happened - so I have worked on quietly these two Sundays.
Enclosed you will find a scratch of a man's head and of a
still life with honesty, in the same style as the one you took
with you; in the foreground are Father's tobacco pouch and his
pipe. If you care to have it, you may of course, and
Mother is looking well, and for the present the many letters
she has to write distract her somewhat. But of course she feels
her loss heavily.
I do not know whether you remember how in January, when the
fields were covered with snow, and the sun rose fiery red out
of the mist, I wrote you that I had hardly ever begun a new
year in a more despondent mood.
The fact is that there will be much trouble in store for us
all. Of course you will understand that it isn't for my own
pleasure that I shall go and live in the studio. It makes
things more complicated for me again, but I am quite sure that
it is better for the others if I leave. Especially in view of
Mother's intention to take in as a boarder somebody who wants
to stay in the country for his or her health, if it can be done
- or, if this should not prove so easy, they will at all events
be freer in the matter of receiving guests, etc.
But consequently I have no choice. After such a beginning
one is forced to take measures in order to avoid such
occurrences in the future. So I am firmly resolved.
Probably Mother will go to Leyden next year. Then I shall be
the only one of us left in Brabant.
I believe that you think differently about it, and that
perhaps you prefer my taking another course, and settling
elsewhere. But I sometimes think that you have more feeling for
what can be done in the city, whereas I, on the contrary, feel
more at home in the country.
But I shall still have a hard time of it before I can make
people accept my pictures.
Meanwhile, I am not going to let myself be discouraged.
I remember what I once read of how seventeen pictures of
Delacroix's were refused, “dix-sept
refusés,” as he told his friends straight out.
I was thinking today what damned brave fellows they were,
those pioneers. But the battle must be carried on even at
present, and I will carry on my own fight for all the little I
may be worth.
And so, Theo, I hope we shall continue on both sides what we
started anew; while waiting for, or rather, toiling on more
important compositions, I shall send you the studies fresh from
Of course, people will speak of unfinished, or ugly, etc.,
etc., but - my idea is to show them by all
I personally have the firm conviction that there are a few
people who, having been drawn into the city and kept bound
there, yet retaining unfaded impressions of the country, and
remain all their lives homesick for the fields and the
peasants. Such art lovers are sometimes struck by the sincerity
in a picture, and what repulses others does not trouble
I myself remember how I used to walk for hours in the city,
looking at the show windows, to get a glimpse of some bit of
the country, never mind what.
We are now in the very beginning of showing the work; I feel
sure that by and by we shall find some friends for it.
Circumstances impel us and gradually we shall be able to show
better things. For the moment I am strongly preoccupied with
settling my colour bill; besides, I need canvas, paint and
As Father's death has caused you many extra expenses, I have
thought of the following arrangement; in case you should not be
able to give me the extra allowance which I used to receive
every spring and summer and which I cannot possibly do without,
don't you think it would be fair if I reserved for myself a sum
of, for instance, 200 guilders as my share of the inheritance,
which for the rest I gladly leave to the younger ones, and
shall be able to do if you continue to help me?
In fact, I do not consider it as if I left them my
share, but that it is you who make it possible for them to get
If I go to live in the studio, it is absolutely necessary to
have the closet made, for instance, for now I haven't the
smallest place to put my things away, and some improvements
must be made as to the light. To have to move now would be as
bad for me as if the house were burned down; I think with
patience and perseverance we can stay on our feet.
As soon as I am settled in the studio I think I shall take
up doing watercolours regularly every evening, it is not
possible at home in the living room.
Only it is
an established fact that Mother is unable to grasp the fact
that painting is a faith, and that it imposes the
duty to disregard public opinion - and that in painting one
conquers by perseverance and not by making
concessions - and that “I cannot give thee the
faith” - this is exactly what is the matter between her
and me - as it was to Father, and remained so. Oh dear.
Till then, I shall continue to work from the model in the
This week I intend to start that composition of those
peasants around a dish of potatoes in the evening, or - perhaps
I shall make daylight of it, or both, or “neither of the
two” you will say. But whether it may succeed or not, I
am going to begin the studies for the various figures. Goodbye,
with a handshake,
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 32 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 5 April 1885 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 398.
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