I am longing very much to hear from you, for the time has
come for me to make a decision.
There are only ten days left in the month, and I have to
know what I must do. However, for myself, I have come to a
decision. I only wish you would see things as I do.
If you approve of the plan of my coming to Paris as soon as
possible, then after having been in Brabant for a short time, I
shall send you from here the studies and drawings I have
But I must hasten to send them, otherwise I shall have to
stay here longer again.
What must I do?
I have a total of one franc fifty centimes left, and as to
my food, I paid 5 francs in advance until the end of the
In so many ways it would be such a good thing to change
You understand that no money is left to take painting
materials from here to Brabant, so I shall be doubly in a fix
there, both as to models and colours.
So there is no choice; besides, what need is there to
choose? For what is most pressing must come first, and that is
the period of drawing from the nude and the works of
Perhaps I write you somewhat abruptly, but things must not
be put off. For the rest, it is only natural that there cannot
be any objection to finding a garret in Paris at once, on the
very first day of my arrival, and then I can go and draw at the
Louvre or the Ecole des Beaux-Arts so that I shall be quite
prepared for Cormon. So don't let's hesitate or take too long
We must put our shoulders to the wheel. Well, let's do
If ever we want to do some good, you may be sure that more
and more things will depend on quickness and resoluteness of
action, and as, notwithstanding all the trouble one may take,
nobody can be sure of the result of his undertaking, there can
be no harm in some daring and energy.
So if it were at all possible, I should like to pack up
my studies and send them to you, and then leave here on the
last of this month, or even a few days sooner.
But not stay on into March, on account of the rent.
Would this be possible? Then I can help them to pack up at
home, if it should be of any use to them. And if I can paint or
draw a little there, so much the better. But the sooner and the
more energetically we go through that period of drawing in
Paris, the better it will be for the whole future; I feel even
the little I did of it these last few weeks here has been of
use to me. And if I did not do so, and tried another way,
direct from nature, I should always have trouble with people
who had been at some academy, who would say that according to
them I cannot draw.
I do not know definitely yet how things will go with me here
at the academy. I think I wrote you recently, didn't I, that
they absolutely picked a fight with me?
Yesterday I heard that Sibert, the teacher, had said to
somebody that I had a good idea of drawing, and that he had
been rather too hasty.
As he does not come into the class often, I have not seen
him for a few days.
At the moment I am working on a woman's torso.
Goodbye, do write as soon as you can. My health remains
pretty much the same, yet I believe it is beginning to
With a handshake,
Ever yours, Vincent
If I did not insist on it, i.e. going to Paris, I should not
recover, for I must try to earn more. I am living too
wretchedly now. If one didn't have to pay for so many other
things, one could live very well on 150 fr., but now there are
too many things to pay for.
But after all, my health is improving, and it will come out
At this time, Vincent was 32 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 15-17 February 1886 in Antwerp. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 455.
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