My dear Theo,
I am at last writing to you from Stes-Maries on the shore of
the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean has the colours of
mackerel, changeable I mean. You don't always know if it is
green or violet, you can't even say it's blue, because the next
moment the changing light has taken on a tinge of pink or
I brought three canvases and have covered them - two
marines, a view of the village, and then some drawings
which I will send you by post when I return to Arles tomorrow.
I have board and lodging for 4 francs a day and they began
by asking 6.
As soon as I can, I shall probably come back again to make
some more studies.
The shore here is sandy, neither cliffs nor rocks - like
Holland without the dunes, and bluer.
If there isn't - the butcher is not much more appetizing
than the fellah butcher of M. Gérôme's - if there
is no fish, it is pretty difficult to get anything to eat, as
far as I can see.
I do not think there are 100 houses in the village, or town.
The chief building, after the old church and an ancient
fortress, is the barracks. And the houses - like the ones on
our heaths and peat bogs in Drenthe; you will see some
specimens of them in the drawings.
I am forced to leave my three painted studies here, for of
course they are not dry enough to be submitted with safety to
five hours' jolting in the carriage.
But I expect to come back here again.
Next week I'd like to go to Tarascon to do two or three
If you have not written yet, I shall naturally expect the
letter at Arles.
A very fine gendarme came to interview me here, and the
curé too - the people can't be very bad here, because
even the curé looked almost like a decent fellow.
Next month it will be the season for open-air bathing here.
The number of bathers varies from 20 to 50. I am staying till
tomorrow afternoon, I still have some drawings to do.
One night I went for a walk by the sea along the empty
shore. It was not gay, but neither was it sad - it was -
beautiful. The deep blue sky was flecked with clouds of a blue
deeper than the fundamental blue of intense cobalt, and others
of a clearer blue, like the blue whiteness of the Milky Way. In
the blue depth the stars were sparkling, greenish, yellow,
white, pink, more brilliant, more emeralds, lapis lazuli,
rubies, sapphires. The sea was very deep ultramarine - the
shore a sort of violet and faint russet as I saw it, and on the
dunes (they are about seventeen feet high) some bushes Prussian
Besides half-page drawings I have a big drawing, the pendant
of the last one. Good-by for the present only, I hope, with a
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 4 June 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 499.
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