My dear friend,
Thank you for your letter, and for that which it contained. I
feel sad that even successful paintings do not cover
I was touched by what you wrote about home,
“They are fairly well but yet it is sad to see
them.” A dozen years ago one would have sworn that, come
what may, the family would always prosper and do well. It would
give Mother much pleasure if your marriage came off; and you
also ought not to stay single for the sake of your health and
As for me, I feel the desire for marriage and children
leaving me, and now and then I'm rather depressed that I should
be like this at 35, when I ought to be feeling quite
the opposite. And sometimes I blame it all on this rotten
painting. It was Richepin who said somewhere: the love of art
is the undoing of true love. I think that's absolutely right,
but on the other hand true love makes one weary of art.
And although I already feel old and broken, I can still be amorous
enough at times to feel less passionate about painting. One
must have ambition to succeed, and ambition seems to me absurd.
I wish above all I were less of a burden to you - and that
needn't be impossible from now on, for I hope to make such
progress that you'll be able to show what I do in full
confidence without compromising yourself. And then I'll retire
somewhere in the Midi so as not to see so many
painters who fill me with disgust as men.
You can be sure of one thing - I shan't be trying to do any
more work for the Tambourin - I think it's about to
change hands anyway, and I most certainly don't object to that.
As for la Segatori, that is quite a different matter.
I still feel affection for her and I hope that she, too, still
feels some for me. But at the moment she is in a difficult
situation, she is neither a free agent nor mistress in her own
house, on top of which she's suffering and sick. Although I
wouldn't say so in public - I'm convinced she's had an abortion
(unless, that is, she did have a miscarriage) - whatever, in her
case I don't hold it against her.
She'll be better in about two months' time, I hope, and then
she may well be grateful to me for not having bothered her.
Mind you, once she's well again, if she refuses in cold blood
to return what is mine, or does me down in any way, I shan't
pull my punches - but it won't come to that. After all, I know
her well enough to still have confidence in her. And mind you, if she does
manage to hang on to her establishment, then from a business
point of view I shouldn't blame her for choosing to eat
rather than be eaten. If that means she has to tread on my
toes a bit - all right - she can do so. When I saw her
last, she didn't tread all over my heart, which she would have
done had she been as mean as people say she is.
I saw Tanguy yesterday and he has put a canvas I've just
done in the window. I've done four since you left and I've got
a big one under way. I realize that these big, long canvases
are hard to sell, but later on people will see that there's
fresh air and good humour in them. The whole lot would do well
as decoration for a dining room or a country house. And if you
were to fall properly in love and then got married, it
doesn't seem impossible to me that you might manage to acquire
a country house like so many other art dealers. If one lives
well, one spends more, but also gains more ground, and perhaps
nowadays one does better looking rich than looking hard up.
It's better to enjoy life than to commit suicide.
Regards to all at home.
At this time, Vincent was 34 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written Summer 1887 in Paris. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number 462.
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