My dear Theo,
I'm in a fever of work since the trees are in blossom and I
want to do a Provençal orchard full of enormous
brightness. To write with a clear head presents serious
difficulties. Yesterday I wrote some letters which I destroyed
later. I keep on thinking that we must do something in Holland,
and that we must set about it with the vigour of sans-culottes,
with a French gaiety and worthy of the cause we are
But it would be an answer in a clear voice to certain heavy
insinuations, treating us as though we had already died, and a
revenge for your trip last year, when the welcome that they
made you lacked any warmth. Enough.
Suppose therefore that first of all we gave to Jet Mauve the
Souvenir de Mauve. Suppose I dedicate a study
to Breitner (I have one exactly like the study
which I exchanged with L. Pissarro and the one
Reid has, of oranges, foreground white,
Suppose we gave another study to our sister.
Suppose that we gave the Modern Museum in The Hague, since
we have many memories of The Hague, the two views of Montmartre
exhibited at the Independents.
One thing remains not so easily settled. Since Tersteeg has
written you, “Send me some impressionists, but only those
pictures that you yourself judge to be the best,” and on
your part you sent a picture of mine in that consignment, I
find myself in the not very easy position of having to
convince Tersteeg that really I am a true impressionist
of the Petit Boulevard, and that I intend to keep this
position. Oh well, he will have a picture of mine in his own
collection - I have been turning it over in my mind these days
and I have found an odd thing, not like what I do every
It is the drawbridge with the little yellow cart and the
group of washerwomen, a study in which the ground is bright
orange, the grass very green and the sky and water blue.
It only needs a frame specially designed for it in royal
blue and gold, in this fashion
the mount blue, the outside moulding gold; if necessary the
frame could be in blue plush, but it would be better
[Written in the margin] Believe me, Tersteeg will not refuse
the picture; I have made up my mind that this one, and the one
for Jet Mauve, must go to Holland
I think I can assure you that the work I do here is superior
to than in the Asnières country last spring.
In the whole plan there is nothing absolutely fixed except
the dedication Souvenir de Mauve, and the dedication to
Tersteeg. I have not yet succeeded in writing a few words to
explain it to him, but I will find them when the painting is
done, they will come to me of themselves; but you well
understand that we have the strength in us to make them talk
about us if we choose, and we can go on with the work of
launching the impressionists with the utmost calm and
If you see Reid again, it would be good to tell him that we
don't have a great deal of confidence in the success of
ambitious people, and that we would like them better if they
did good work, that we were surprised at his way of doing
things which ended up being inexplicable and that since then we
don't know what to think of him.
[Written in the margin] For my part, I won't write to
Tersteeg directly. If there is anything I will send the letter
to you with the paintings.
I believe that Russell is trying to reconcile me with Reid,
and that he wrote the letter expressly for that purpose. I
shall certainly write to Russell and tell him that I told Reid
frankly that he made a foolish mistake in loving dead pictures
and to count for nothing living artists. That moreover I hoped
to see him change, at least in that respect.
I had to spend almost the whole amount on colours and canvas
as soon as your letter came, and I wish you could manage as
soon as possible to send me something soon. The painting of the
garden with the lovers is at the
Théatre Libre. Boyer, the framer, still has a lithograph
of mine: the old man with the bald head.
I should like it if what I am going to send you reached you
before Tersteeg goes to Paris, and if you could put the
blooming apple trees in your room. I'm very glad that it is
working out all right with Koning and that you are not alone.
What a pity about Vignon. I am sure M. Gendre was behind it,
and I wish him, M. Gendre, the bad luck that he has brought on
other people. It is a sad end for father Martin.
I can't yet manage to write you the kind of letter I want
to, the work absorbs me completely.
But this is especially to tell you that I want to do some
studies particularly for Holland, and after that we'll leave
Holland alone for ever.
The last few days I have been more moved than was reasonable
perhaps, thinking about Mauve, and J. H. Weissenbruch, Tersteeg
and Mother, and Wil; and it steadies me to tell myself that
there'll be some pictures going down there. Then afterwards I
shall forget them, and probably think only of the Petit
[The end of the letter is missing]
Vincent makes a play on words here: “Blusiers
pillets de mille vrans”, transposing the first
letters of “Plusiers billets” and writing
“francs” with a `Dutch' accent.
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 2 April 1888 in Arles. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number 473.
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