My dear Theo,
I am dropping you another line as your letter hasn't come
yet. But I suppose you thought I would probably be in
Since the rent of the house and the painting of the doors
and windows and the purchases of canvases all came at the same
time, I've run out, and you would be doing me a very great
kindness if you could send me the money a few days earlier.
I am working on a landscape with wheat fields which, I
think, is as good as, say, the white orchard. It is in the same
style as the two landscapes of the Butte Montmartre which were
at the Indépendants, but I think it is more robust and
rather more stylish.
And I have another subject, a farm and some haystacks, which
will probably be the pendant.
I am very curious to know what Gauguin plans to do. I hope
he'll be able to come. You will tell me that it's pointless to
think about the future, but the painting is progressing slowly
and where that's concerned you do have to plan ahead. If I sold
no more than a few canvases, that would be neither Gauguin's
salvation nor mine. To be able to work one has to order one's
life as best one can, and to secure one's existence one needs a
fairly solid basis. If he and I stay here for a long
time, our pictures will become more and more individual,
precisely because we shall have made a more thorough study of
subjects in this region.
Now that I have made a start in the South, I can hardly
conceive of going anywhere else. Better not to do any more
moving - just to keep going out into the countryside.
I'm sure I should have a greater chance of success if I
tackled subjects - and even business matters - on a somewhat
bigger scale, instead of confining myself to one that is too
The latest canvas absolutely kills all the others; it is
only the still life with the coffeepots and cups and plates in
blue and yellow that could stand the comparison with it. It
must be because of the drawing.
I can't help recalling what I've seen of Cézanne's
work, because - as in the harvest which we saw at Portier's -
he has bought out the harsh side of Provence so much.
It has become very different from what it was in spring, and
yet I certainly have no less love for this countryside, which
is already beginning to look scorched. One might say that
everything has old gold, bronze and copper in it, and this,
together with the green azure of the white-hot sky, imparts a
delicious, exceptionally harmonious colour, with broken tones
à la Delacroix.
If Gauguin were willing to join us it would be, I think, a
step forward for us. It would establish us squarely as the
openers-up of the South, and nobody could argue with that.
Perhaps, perhaps, I am therefore on the right track and I am
getting an eye for the countryside here.
We'll have to wait and see.
This latest picture stands up well to the red surroundings
of the bricks with which my studio is paved. When I put it on
the floor, on this brick-red, deep red, ground, the
colour of the picture does not look washed-out or blanched.
The countryside near Aix - where Cézanne works - is
just the same as here, it is still the Crau. When I get back
home with my canvas and I say to myself, Hullo, I've got old
Cézanne's very tones, all I mean is that since
Cézanne, just like Zola, is so at home in these
parts and hence knows them so intimately, one must be
making the same mental calculation to arrive at the same tones.
It goes without saying that seen side by side they would go
together, but not look alike. With a handshake, I hope that you
will be able to write one of these days.
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 12 or 13 June 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 497.
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