My dear Theo,
I thank you very much for your letter, which I had not dared
to expect so soon, as far as the 50-fr. note which you added
I see that you have not yet had an answer from Tersteeg. I
don't think that we need press him with a new letter. However,
if you have any official business to transact with B. V. &
Co. in The Hague, you might mention in a P. S. that you are
rather surprised that he has in no way acknowledged the receipt
of the letter in question.
As for my work, I brought back a size 15 canvas today. It is
a drawbridge over which passes a little cart, standing out against
a blue sky - the river blue as well, the banks orange coloured
with grass and a group of women washing linen in smocks
and multicoloured caps. And another landscape
with a little rustic bridge and washerwomen also.
Finally an avenue of plane trees close to the station.
Altogether 12 studies since I've been here.
The weather here is changeable, often windy with turbulent
skies, but the almond trees are beginning to flower everywhere.
I am very happy that the paintings are going to the Independents.
You are right to go to see Signac at his house. I was very glad
to read in today's letter that he made a more favourable
impression on you than the first time. In any case I am
glad to know that after today you will not be alone in the
Remember me kindly to Koning. Are you well?
I have company in the evening, for the young Danish painter
who is here is a decent soul: his work is dry, correct and
timid, but I do not object to that when the painter is young
and intelligent. He originally began studying medicine: he knows
Zola, de Goncourt, Guy de Maupassant, and he has
enough money to do himself well. And with all this, a very
genuine desire to do very different work than what he is
I think he would be wise to delay his return home for a
year, or to come back here after a short visit to his
But, my dear brother, you know that I feel as though I am in Japan - I
say no more than that, and I still haven't seen anything in its
usual splendour yet.
That's why (even though I'm vexed that just now expenses
are heavy and the paintings worthless), that's why I don't
despair of the future success of this idea of a long sojourn in
Here I am seeing new things, I am learning, and if I take it
easy, my body doesn't refuse to function.
For many reasons I should like to establish some sort of little
retreat, where the poor cab horses of Paris - that is yourself and
several of our friends, the poor impressionists - could go out
to pasture when they get too exhausted.
I was present at the Inquiry into a crime committed at the
door of a brothel here; two Italians killed two Zouaves. I
took advantage of the opportunity to go into one of the brothels in a
little street called “des ricolettes.”
That is the extent of my amorous adventures among the
Arlésiennes. The mob all but (the Southerner, like
Tartarin, being more energetic in good intentions than in
action) - the mob, I repeat, all but lynched the murderers
locked up in the town hall, but in retaliation all the Italians
- men and women, the Savoyard monkeys included - have been
forced to leave town.
I should not have told you about this, except that it means
I've seen the streets of this town full of excited crowds. And
it was indeed a fine sight.
And the moral of this is that it's my constant
hope that I am not working for myself alone. I believe in the
absolute necessity of a new art of colour, of design, and - of
the artistic life. And if we work in that faith, it seems to me
that there is a chance that we do not hope in vain.
You must know that I am actually ready to send some studies
off to you, only it is impossible to roll them up yet. A hearty handshake. On
Sunday I shall write to Bernard and de Lautrec, because I
solemnly promised to, and shall send you those letters as well.
I am deeply sorry for Gauguin's plight, especially because
his health is shaken: he no longer has the kind of temperament that
profits from hardships - on the contrary, this will only
exhaust him from here on, and that will spoil him for his work.
Goodbye for the present.
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 34 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 14 March 1888 in Arles. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number 469.
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