At the moment that all my money is gone, absolutely gone, I
write you once again.
If you can send anything, even if it's only 5 fr., do so.
There are still ten days left in the month, and how am I to get
through them? For I have absolutely nothing left. Even
at the baker's, nothing.
I know only one thing, that everything decidedly points to
my not acting otherwise than as I wrote you - namely - to my
not postponing going to Paris.
For the rest, you will notice from the last work, which you
have not seen, that when I let painting rest for a short while,
I do this in all confidence, for I shall not easily get out of
the practice of working with the brush. I will also send you
the drawings from the works of the ancients; that is unusual
work for me, and I shall improve.
Like the torso of a woman that I finished today; it is more
distinguished in modelling and less brusque than the first
ones, in which the figures remind one involuntarily of peasants
If I had not been sick, I should have been able to do more
What we have to do is to go quietly on, but that period of
drawing cannot be avoided, and it is most pressing.
And I am so sure that my spending the time between on
nothing but drawing will help me at Cormon's. Whatever sort of
man Cormon may be, he will be like the rest in that he will not
have much time.
And whoever wants to learn from those people must start by
bringing along as much positive knowledge as possible. And it
is almost certain that all those who are at his studio have
drawn a good deal from the plaster casts, and that no matter
how free and liberal the studio may be otherwise, this is the
basis of everything.
So let's act wisely. They care a little for outdoor studies,
but not much. And the people who have been in Paris all say the
At Cormon's I suppose I shall have to paint a nude figure
from nature, as a test, and the better I know the structure by
heart, the more and the better he will be able and willing to
tell me things.
For the rest, we must see how we can get along together. I
hope we shall, but if not, then we should know something more
about it if we had had a few months' trial.
And as to my going straight to Paris, I tell you it will be
less expensive for you, for what with traveling to and from,
and starting relatively expensive work in Brabant, we should
not be able to manage with the usual allowance, and in Paris we
And if we can manage with the money, so much the better,
then we shall not be so hard up and might stock up on painting
materials before summer, so that everything will not come at
Don't be offended if I too calculate for once what is
possible and what is not.
I am rereading Bracquemond's book, and I find it more
beautiful each time.
I feel that you do not approve of my going straight to
Paris, otherwise you would already have answered me. And yet it
is better to do it at once. Here I have the opportunity to
consult people who work quite seriously, and I am fully
convinced it will be the best thing to do. In fact, we ought to
have done it long ago.
But don't worry too much about it, we shall not fail, but
what I tell you is true - from the moment that I send this
letter off till I get your answer, which I hope, however, will
cross mine, I shall be without a cent, and it will mean fasting
Well, let's hope we shall be together soon, and that the
worst will be over. Goodbye, with a handshake,
Ever yours, Vincent
I do not trust the people whom I live with, so if you send a
letter with money in it, as you did recently, it is safer to
have the letter registered.
I have just read La Dame aux Camelias by Dumas. It is very
good. Do you know it?
At this time, Vincent was 32 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 18 February 1886 in Antwerp. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 456.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.