I want to tell you that Verlat has at last seen my work, and
when he saw the two landscapes and the still life that I had
brought from the country, he said, “Yes, but that does
not concern me”; when I showed him the two portraits he
said, “That is different, if it is figure painting, you
may come.” So tomorrow I shall start working in the
academy's painting class.
Besides, I have arranged with Vinck (a pupil of Leys's by
whom I saw things in the manner of Leys, medieval) to draw
works of antiquity in the evening.
I think neither of these things will do me harm, and perhaps
can be of some use to me either in painting or in drawing. And
at all events, it is an attempt to come into contact with
people. In the painting and drawing class I saw in passing
several fellows my age at work.
And if I might get on friendly terms with Verlat or Vinck or
whoever it may be, it would certainly get me a lot of
Well, this is essentially the practical side of the
Then I have to go and see two fellows about portraits; I do
not know what the result will be.
One is a question of two portraits of a couple of very
beautiful hussies, types with dark eyes, dark hair, two
sisters, who I suppose are kept women.
And the other one is a portrait of a married woman. But I
repeat, there is nothing definite, and it may come to
But I know that eventually I would be willing to do them for
nothing, just for practice.
But just consider whether, if I must go and work there or
anywhere else, it is necessary for me to do something about my
clothes, for I have worn mine for two years now, and especially
of late they have had much wear and tear. Even a suit for some
40 fr. would do.
And I must also be prepared for Verlat's saying I have to
provide myself with some painting material or other, so that I
must have the means to do so. Therefore try, as I asked you, to
send me another 50 fr., then I can keep going till the end of
the month, and could buy a new pair of trousers and a waistcoat
at once, and the coat in February.
I have been drawing there for two evenings already, and I
must say that I believe that just for the making of, for
instance, peasant figures, it is very useful to draw from the
plaster casts. But for goodness' sake, not the way it is
usually done. In fact, in my opinion the drawings that I see
there are all hopelessly bad and absolutely wrong, and I know
for sure that mine are totally different. Time must show who is
The feeling of what ancient sculpture is, damn it, not
one of them has it.
I, who for years had not seen any good plaster casts of
ancient sculptures - and those they have here are very good -
and who during all those years have always had the living model
before me, on looking at them carefully again, I am amazed at
the ancients' wonderful knowledge and the correctness of their
Well, probably the academic gentlemen will accuse me of
heresy, but never mind.
I should like to get on with Verlat. I think many of the
things he makes both harsh and wrong in colour and
paint, but I know that he also has his good days,
for instance, that he paints a better portrait than most of the
others. So we must wait and see.
I feel in high spirits notwithstanding all, just because it
refreshes me to be in all kinds of conditions so disparate from
those in the country, and it may be that I shall feel at home
here after all - but do your best to write me soon, and it is
really necessary that I get those 50 fr. for this month,
otherwise I cannot manage, and things are too urgent.
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 32 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written in Antwerp. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 445.
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