My dear Theo,
Thank you for your letter of today, and for the 110-franc
note it contained. As for the earlier letter with the 50
francs, I got it too, and I wrote you about it the day, or two
days, before I sent the two drawings. These drawings were made
with a reed sharpened the way you would a goose quill; I intend
to make a series of them, and hope to do better ones than the
first two. It is a method that I had already tried in Holland
some time ago, but I hadn't such good reeds there as here.
I have had a letter from Koning, please thank him for it; I
shall be very pleased to exchange the two drawings for one of
his studies, which you must choose and keep in your collection.
I will write him to explain the method and send him some
sharpened reeds so that he can try it too.
But what a business! For probably these fellows are planning
some move. Do you remember that we talked about it before I
left, and said that in expectation of the Universal Exhibition
Bouguereau, Lefèvre, Benjamin C. [Constant], the whole set,
would go to Boussod's to complain and to insist that they count
on the firm of B's (the best in the world) remaining true and
faithful to the principles of that art which is in truth the
most civilized and most attractive - that is to say their own
Whatever it may be, it was pretty disquieting. And the
situation would become serious if you quarreled with these
I don't disguise from you that it will be a pretty severe
blow to you; not at the moment but say six months later,
because of the change in your way of life that it would bring
When a man comes out of prison after having been there a
long time, there will be moments when he will even miss his
prison, because he finds himself at a loss now that he is at
liberty - so called, I suppose, because the grinding daily task
of earning your living hardly leaves any liberty at all.
But you know all this. You will certainly regret some things
in spite of yourself, even while you are gaining others.
I have ten orchards now, not counting three little studies,
and one big one of a cherry tree, which I've spoiled.
When will you be back and what exactly am I to do about
sending things? - for I must get fresh subjects, as most of the
flowering in the orchards is over.
Therefore, these orchards, with the Pont de l'Anglais,
constitute a first series. If you would rather leave them to
dry out here, perhaps it would be as well. They are now on a
covered terrace to dry. I say, Daumier is on view at the
Beaux-Arts and Gavarni too, aren't they? Bravo for the Daumier,
but not for the Beaux-Arts.
Here is a sketch of an orchard that I planned more
particularly for you to celebrate May 1. It's absolutely clear,
and done all in one go. A frenzy of impastos
of the faintest yellow and lilac on the original white
You will probably be in Holland by then, and perhaps you
will be seeing the same trees in flower there on that very
I am very glad you have taken lessons in eating from young
Koning. He is thoroughly well up on it: and it's amusing to eat
with that budding young artist.
I am very pleased that you have got his study of the Negress.
and while I think of it, I want to tell you that
more and more I doubt the truth of the legend of Monticelli
drinking such enormous quantities of absinthe. When I look at
his work, I can't think it possible that a man who was flabby
with drink could have done that.
Perhaps that Limoges woman, the La Roquette female, set her
evil tongue wagging and so the legend took root.
I am writing in haste so that you will get my letter before
you leave, if it is this Sunday that you intend to start.
Although I do not think that the journey will be very
delightful if Delort & Co.'s pictures are to be the bulk of
the collection designed for the worthy Belgians, all the same I
wish you a good time, and a good journey, and above all be of
I saw Bernard's still life unfinished, and thought it
A handshake for you and Koning.
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 21 April 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 478.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.