My dear Theo,
Will you read the letter I have written to Mr. Tersteeg, and
will you send it to him with a letter of your own if you think
it is a good move?
But you need the support of other employees of the firm. If
Tersteeg refuses to have anything to do with it, we still have
Reid and Wisselingh as English agents. You know that v.
W. married a daughter of a picture dealer in Glasgow, a
business rival of Reid's. If Reid takes up the
impressionists, if he finds a jumping-off ground there, and if
he tries to do this in opposition to us, from that
moment we have the right to put his rival up to it. But if
Wisselingh ever takes it up, and above all if now or later you
have a chat with Wisselingh about it, then Tersteeg could at
once reproach you - “And why, sir, when you took up the
impressionists, did you keep the firm that employs you in the
So you must speak to Tersteeg about it at once, and to save
you the trouble of writing a long letter, this time I have done
it myself. You can make it all complete by adding a vague
remark about Reid and the impressionists, and the interest that
Wisselingh may come to have in the final outcome of this
And I have said in the postscript that in view of the low
prices compared with the interest the pictures offer, Tersteeg
could easily dispose of fifty or so for us in Holland; besides,
he will be obliged to have some of them, because if they are
already being talked about in Antwerp and Brussels, they will
likewise be talked about in Amsterdam and The Hague before
Finally, what I propose in the letter should not be very
disagreeable either to Tersteeg or yourself; you will pilot him
round the studios, and he will see for himself that next year
people will start talking, and will go on talking about the new
school long enough. If, however, you think my letter ill timed,
you have my full permission to burn it. Only if you send it,
suggest the same thing to him yourself.
You know very well, however, that Tersteeg is as much at
home in the English business as a fish out of water, so that it
is perfectly possible that he might be the person to direct the
sale of these new pictures over there. As a matter of fact, in
this way Tersteeg and the London agent would have a permanent
exhibition of the impressionists in London, you in Paris, and I
should begin in Marseilles; but Tersteeg must see plenty of
them for himself first, and that is why it is desirable that
you should take him on a grand tour of the studios, and explain
to him the whole importance of the business as you go.
The association of the artists will come about all the more
easily since Tersteeg will have no objection to our having the
artist's interests at heart, especially not to our wanting to
raise the net price of the picture; after all, there would be
no market for it if it cost nothing.
In any case we must speak out boldly now, don't you think?
And Mesdag and the rest must give up ridiculing the
impressionists. In any case it will be a good thing to have
Tersteeg interviewed on the subject.
You see, in my opinion the whole crux of the matter in
England is this: either the artists give their work away at a
wretched price to the dealers there, or else they combine, and
choose for themselves intelligent agents who won't fleece them.
Now think it over and send the letter or burn it as you think
best. I am not absolutely set on its being sent, but should
very much like to see Tersteeg in this, because he has the
With a good handshake, Vincent
[Written in the margin] I have done another study.
At this time, Vincent was 34 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 26-28 February 1888 in Arles. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number 465.
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