My dear Theo,
I got your telegraph order for 50 francs on Monday morning,
and thank you very much for it. Only I have not received your
letter yet, and I am rather surprised.
I have had a letter from Gauguin, who says he got a letter
from you with 50 Fr. enclosed, which touched him greatly, and
in which you said something of the plan. As I had sent you my
letter to him, he had not yet received the more definite
proposal when he wrote.
But he says that he knows from experience, because when he
was with this friend Laval in Martinique they managed much
better together than when they were alone, so that he quite
agreed with me as to the advantages there would be in living
He says that the pains in his bowels still continue, and he
seems to me to be very depressed.
He speaks of some hopes he has of finding a capital of
600,000 francs to set up as a dealer in impressionist pictures,
and that he will explain his plan, and would like you to head
the enterprise. I should not be surprised if this hope is a
fata morgana, a mirage of destitution, the more destitute you
are - especially if you are ill - the more you think of such
possibilities. To me this scheme simply looks like another
proof of his breaking down, and it would be better to get him
away as quickly as possible.
He says that when sailors have to move a heavy load, or
weigh anchor, so as to be able to lift a very heavy weight, and
to make a huge effort, they all sing together to keep them up
to the mark and give them vim.
That is just what artists lack! So I should be very much
surprised if he is not glad to come, but in addition to the
hotel and travelling expenses, there is the doctor's bill as
well, so it will be pretty steep.
But I think he ought to leave the debts unpaid, giving some
pictures as security - if he is coming here, and if the people
do not agree to that, to leave the debts as they are, without
pictures as security. I was obliged to do the same thing to get
to Paris, and though I lost a lot of things, it cannot be
helped in a case like this, and it is better to get away no
matter how than to go to rack and ruin where you are.
I have not gone to Saintes-Maries; they have finished
painting the house, and I have had to pay for that, and then I
had to get in a fairly big stock of canvases; so out of 50
francs I have got one louis left, and it is only Tuesday
morning, so it was hardly possible for me to go, and I am
afraid next week will be just as bad.
I was glad to hear that Mourier has come to stay with
If Gauguin would rather take the risk of going into business
again, and if he really hopes to do something in Paris, Good
Lord! let him go, but I think that he would be wise to come
here at least for a rest; there is someone here who has been to
Tonkin, and came back ill from that delightful place - he has
I have two or three new drawings, and two or three new
painted studies too.
One day I went to Tarascon, but unfortunately there was such
a blazing sun and so much dust that day that I came back with
an empty bag. I have heard of two Monticellis in Marseilles, a
bunch of flowers at 250 francs, and some figures. It was that
friend of Russell's McKnight, who had seen them there. I should
very much like to go to Marseilles sometime.
I keep on finding very beautiful and interesting subjects
here, and in spite of the worry about the expense, I think that
there is a better chance in the South than in the North.
If you saw the Camargue and many other places, you would be
surprised, just as I was, to find that they are exactly in
I am working on a new subject, fields green and yellow as
far as the eye can reach. I have already drawn
it twice, and I
am starting it again as a painting; it is exactly like a
Salomon Konink - you know, the pupil of Rembrandt who painted
vast level plains. Or it is like Michel, or like Jules
Dupré - but anyway it is very different from rose
gardens. It is true that I have only been through one part of
Provence, and that in the other part there is the kind of
scenery that you get in Claude Monet, for instance.
I am very curious to know how Gauguin will get on. He says
that he disposed of thirty-five thousands' worth of
impressionist stuff at Durand Ruel's in his time, and that he
hopes to do the same for you. But it is so wretched when your
health begins to bother you. I think myself that the most solid
asset Gauguin has now is his painting, and the best business he
could do - his own pictures. Probably he has written you
already. I replied to his letter last Saturday.
I think it would come very heavy to pay all that he owes,
and the journey, etc., etc. If Russell bought a picture from
him, but he has the house that he is building, which leaves
him short of money. I think, however, that I shall write too
that effect. I have to send him something myself for our
exchange, and if Gauguin wants to come, then I could ask him
quite confidently. It is quite certain that if one could buy
his pictures at their present price in exchange for the money
given Gauguin, there would be no risk of losing money. I should
very much like you to have all his pictures of Martinique.
Well, let's do what we can. With a handshake, I hope you will
Ever yours, Vincent
What is the bust of a woman by Rodin in the Salon? It cannot
be the bust of Mrs. Russell, he must be working on that now
Hasn't my friend Mourier a lordly accent? Bropaply he sdill
trinks gognac mit vatter?
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 12 June 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 496.
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