I have wondered a little at not having heard from you yet.
You will say that you have been too busy to think of it, and of
course I understand this.
It is late in the evening, but I want to tell you once more
how sincerely I hope that in the future our correspondence will
become somewhat more animated than it has been of late.
Enclosed you will find two scratches of a few studies I
made, while at the same time I am again working on those
peasants around the dish of potatoes. I have
just come home from this cottage and have been working at it by
lamplight, though I began it by daylight this time.
This is what the composition looks like.
I painted it on a rather large canvas, and as the sketch is
now, I think there is some life in it.
Yet I am sure C. M., for instance would find fault with the
drawing, etc. Do know what a positive argument against that is?
That the beautiful effects of in nature demand a very quick
hand in drawing.
Now I know quite well that the great masters, especially in
the period of their ripest experience, knew both how to be
elaborate in the finishing and at the same time to keep a thing
full of life. But certainly that will be beyond my power for
the present At the point I am now, however, I see a chance of
giving a true impression of what I see.
Not always literally exact or rather never exact, for one
sees nature through one's own temperament
The advice I want to give, you know, is the following: Don't
let the time slip by; help me to work as much as possible, and
from now on keep all the studies together.
I do not like to sign any of them yet, for I do not want
them to circulate as pictures, which one would have to buy up
again later when one had some reputation. But it will be a good
thing if you show them, for you will see that someday we shall
find somebody who wants to do the same thing I propose to you
now, namely make a collection of studies.
I intend to go out regularly every morning and to attack the
very first thing I see people do, either in the field or at
home, which in fact I am already doing now.
You are looking for new ideas for the art trade; the idea of
being kind to the art lovers is not new, but it is one
that never gets old.
Like that of guaranteeing a purchase. And I ask you, isn't
it better for an art lover to possess from one painter, for
instance, twenty quite different sketches at the same price
which he in all fairness would have to pay for one
finished picture which, as a saleable article, had its value on
the market? If I were in your place, as you know so many young
painters who haven't a reputation yet, I would try to bring
painted studies on the market, not as pictures, but
mounted in some way on gilt Bristol, for instance, or black, or
Just now I mentioned giving a guarantee.
Not all painters make a lot of studies - but many do,
and especially the young ones must do so as much as possible,
mustn't they? He who possesses a painter's studies may always
be sure (at least it seems that way to me) that there is a bond
between the painter and himself which cannot easily be broken
at a whim.
There are people, as you know, who support painters during
the time when they do not yet earn anything, very well!
But how often doesn't it happen that it ends miserably,
wretchedly, for both parties, partly because the protector is
annoyed about the money, which is or at least seems quite
thrown away, whereas, on the other hand, the painter feels
entitled to more confidence, more patience and interest than is
given him? But in most cases the misunderstandings arise from
carelessness on both sides.
I hope this will not be the case between us.
And I hope that by and by my studies will give you some new
courage. Neither you nor I are contemporaries of that race
which Gigoux, in that book you sent me, rightly calls
But it seems to me right after all to keep the enthusiasm of
those days in the present time, for it is often true that
fortune favours the bold, and whatever may be true about
fortune or “la joie (?) de vivre,” as it is called,
one must work and dare if one really wants to live.
I repeat, let us paint as much as we can and be productive,
and, with all our faults and qualities, be ourselves; I
say us, because the money from you, which I know costs
you trouble enough to get for me, gives you the right, if there
is some good in my work, to consider half of it your own
Try to speak to somebody at Le Chat Noir and ask them if
they want a sketch of those potato eaters, and if so, of what
size, for it's all the same to me. Good-by, with a
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 32 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 11 April 1885 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 399.
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