The last time I wrote you I was in such a hurry. Right now I
need all my time, because I am working a full two hours from
here. What I want is to have some more beautiful hovels far
away on the heath. I have four now, as large as the two I last
sent you, and a few smaller ones. They are not yet dry, and I
think I shall give them the finishing touches in the studio.
But then I want to send them to you together with some figure
studies, to show the latter to Serret. But now I want to tell
you that for the present, as there are about six rather large
paintings, I intend to make only small ones. Especially because
according to what Raffaelli and Mantz and others' articles say,
at the last Salon and in general there were a great many
Though I have not read this in one of the articles, this
Salon might perhaps be called “Le Salon des marchands de
I should like to send you this lot before you come here,
because otherwise so much time will be lost.
And then I shall take up quite different subjects again.
I think that you will see from the things I brought from the
heath that it is very characteristic there. The interiors are
splendid, and now I have made some friends there among the
people, with whom I am always welcome.
How did it go with the money this month? I hope a little
better than you expected, for it worried me when you wrote that
you were hard up yourself. I had to pay so much in the
beginning of this month and have only just 5 guilders left. And
it is still a long time before the end of the month.
And next month I shall again have much to pay. I cannot and
may not do otherwise than spend relatively much on models.
It is the same here as everywhere, people do not like to
pose, and if it weren't for the money, nobody would.
But as they are for the most part very poor, and especially
many weavers are out of work, I can somehow manage to get them.
But painting what I want, and especially improving the figures,
is a question of money.
Did you read in Sensier's book that when Millet had the good
fortune to inherit some thousand francs, instead of using it to
make himself a little more comfortable - indeed, he was poor
enough - he immediately set out on a trip to his native
village, in order to paint the peasants there again, and it
swallowed up his whole legacy, and Millet was right.
Others did the same - for instance, Paul Dubois, who spent
his whole patrimony on models, and was for a time quite
melancholy because of money worries.
But I haven't any legacy to expect - and I cannot do as I
But pardon me when I say that, if Serret and you - and very
rightly too - want to see other qualities in my figures, I
shall have to spend more on my models. I do not know how people
manage to fill the Salon with yards and yards of canvas. Well,
among those cottages there are a few that I have painted in a
much brighter tone; but I repeat, however much I may like grey
pictures, more and more I appreciate the people who also paint
the more gloomy effects beside the silver-grey colour
What I shall do now - if the month turns out a little better
than you expected, and if you can send something extra, however
little - is to send you the four pictures. Otherwise - I shan't
have the money to send them. But in that case I will send them
as soon as I have the money for next month, and, at all events,
before that time, the figure studies to show Serret.
But I hope you will bring those figure studies back when you
come. For I am going to add others which I need for
I shall want them for figures that are definitely not larger
than, for instance, a span and even less - so that everything
in it will become even more concentrated.
Goodbye, with a handshake,
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 32 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written mid July 1885 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 417.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.