I just received your letter and the enclosure, for which
many thanks. I want to answer you at once that I often met with
sayings of Diderot's, and that I too think that he fits well
into the framework of his time. It's the same with him as with
Voltaire himself, when one reads a letter of those men's, even
on the most commonplace things, or about nothing, there
is a brightness and a sparkling spirit in them which charm.
Let's not forget that they were the men who made the
Revolution, and that it is the work of a genius to dominate
one's time, and to make the minds that are thoughtless and
passive strive in one direction and after one aim. So I have
all respect for them. Shortly you will receive two studies of
the autumn leaves, one in yellow - poplars -
the other in orange - oaks.
But it is the fate of most people that by a kind of fatality
one has to seek for light a long time. For, that the laws of
colour which Delacroix was the first to use, like Newton did
for gravitation, and like Stephenson did for steam - that those
laws of colours are a ray of light - is absolutely certain.
I have made another autumn study of the pond in the garden
at home. There decidedly is a picture in that spot. I already
tried to get it last year.
The one I made now is a rather stiff composition - to the
right, two trees - orange and yellow; in the centre, two bushes
of grey-green; to the left, two trees of brownish-yellow. In
front of them the black pond - a foreground of withered grass.
The background - a glimpse over the hedge on a very vivid
green. A sky of slate-grey and dark blue to harmonize with this
I am sure they will find it too black and too dark, but the
time of making dark studies is always too short.
I enclose the book by Ch. Blanc in the box with the studies,
also a Bible which those at home gave me for you, of which I
painted a still life.
yourself made the observation that my studies in the studio
became better rather than worse in colour in the course of
time. I think this comes from laying the colours on thickly,
and not using oil. When it is a year old, the little oil which
the paint always contains has evaporated, and the healthy solid
part remains. This question - that of painting so that it keeps
- is rather important, I think; it is a pity that some durable
colours like cobalt are so expensive.
I do not know what to think of the chromates and dark
carmines, but I can quite understand that especially the
American sunsets - you know those kinds of paintings that are
obtained by glacis of chromates only - last an exceedingly
short time. Daubigny and Dupré, on the contrary, will
keep. Isn't it curious that that Van der Meer of Delft in The
Hague has kept colour so splendidly, with that whole series of
glaring tones of red, green, grey, brown, blue, black, yellow,
Haverman's picture in Amsterdam, which I suppose you
remember (as not good), is badly painted, terribly badly,
considering the time, I fear. I just mention this because he
especially is so much admired for his technique. But it
is painted as well, I should say, as for instance Ary Scheffer
painted, or like the technique of Delaroche - and lovers of
healthy vigorous work have always had some objections to those
two. I noticed in Fodor how those pictures that are smoothed
with oil crack terribly. Yet Silvestre says that Delacroix
bathed his pictures in oil “les baignait
d'huile”; but I suppose that it was strongly
empâté work, first treated en pleine
pâte, then left for a year, and then afterward
Delacroix drenched those pictures with oil, after they were dry
to the core. Then it can do no harm.
Ever yours, Vincent
Has there been no Lhermitte this month? I am longing for de
At this time, Vincent was 32 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written early November 1885 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 430.
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