My dear Theo,
Many thanks for your kind letter and for the 50-franc note
enclosed. All the same, Gauguin must have written. The worst of
it is this blasted journey; if we persuade him to do it and
afterward it does not suit him, we'll be in the hole. I think I
shall write him today, and send you the letter.
Now that I have seen the sea here, I am absolutely convinced
of the importance of staying in the Midi, and of positively
piling it on, exaggerating the colour - Africa not so far away.
I am sending you by the same post the drawings of Stes-Maries.
I made the drawing of the boats just as I was going to leave,
very early in the morning, and I am working on the picture
after it, a size 30 canvas with more sea and sky on the right.
It was before the boats cleared off; I had watched it all
the other mornings, but they leave very early, I didn't have
time to do it.
I have three more drawings
of cottages which I still need,
and which will follow these: they are rather harsh, but I have
some more carefully drawn ones.
I'll send you a batch of paintings rolled up as soon as the
marines are dry. Did you ever see such nerve as that of those
idiots in Dordrecht? The arrogance of them - they will be good
enough to condescend to Degas and Pissarro, without ever having
seen a scrap of their stuff, mind you, any more than of the
others. But it is a very good sign that the young ones are
furious, perhaps it's a proof that there are older ones who
have praised the stuff.
Only it's bad policy to stay here alone, when two or three
could help each other to live cheaply.
I wish you could spend some time here, you would feel it
after a while, one's sight changes: you see things with an eye
more Japanese, you feel colour differently. The Japanese draw
quickly, very quickly, like a lightning flash, because their
nerves are finer, their feeling simpler.
I am convinced that I shall set my individuality free simply
by staying on here.
I have only been here a few months, but tell me this - could
I, in Paris, have done the drawing of the boats in an hour? Not
even with the perspective frame, and this one is done without
measuring, just by letting my pen go.
So I tell myself that bit by bit expenses will be balanced
by the work. I should like to earn a lot of money so as to get
good artists down here, instead of leaving them shivering in
the mud of the Petit Boulevard, as too many of them do.
Fortunately it is very easy to sell nice polite pictures in
a nice polite place to a nice polite gentleman.
Now the great Albert 1 has given us the recipe,
every difficulty has disappeared by magic.
One has only to go into the Rue de la Paix, stroll about
ostentatiously for that express purpose - the complete art
If Gauguin came here, he and I might go to Africa with
Bernard when he goes to do his military service there. What
have you settled about our sister?
Anquetin and Lautrec - I think - will not like what I am
doing; there has been an article, it seems, in the Revue
Independante on Anquetin, which called him the leader of a new
trend, in which the Japanese influence is even more apparent. I
have not read it but anyway the leader of the Petit Boulevard
is undoubtedly Seurat, and young Bernard has perhaps gone
further in the Japanese style than Anquetin. Tell them that I
have done a picture of boats, that and the “Pont de
L'Anglais” could go to Anquetin.. What Pissarro says is
true, you must boldly exaggerate the effects of either harmony
or discord which colours produce. It is the same as in drawing
--accurate drawing, accurate colour, is perhaps not the
essential thing to aim at, because the reflection of reality in
a mirror, if it could be caught, colour and all, would not be a
picture at all, no more than a photograph.
Good-by for the present. With a handshake.
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 5 June 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 500.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.