My dear Theo,
Thank you very much for your letter and the 100-fr. note
enclosed. I think now that you are right in this idea of
settling Bing's bill, and for this reason I am sending you back
50 francs, But I think it would be a mistake “to have
done” with Bing - ah no, on the contrary, I should not be
surprised if Gauguin, like myself, wants to have some of those
Japanese prints here. So do just as you think best about paying
him the 90 francs of the deposit in full, and then take up a
full 100 francs' worth later on. Or else Bing will only replace
the stuff represented by the 50 francs enclosed.
If it were possible, seeing that the prints we have at our
place are all beautiful, it would be better to take the whole
stock. We get them so cheap, and can give pleasure to so many
artists with them that altogether we must keep what favour we
have with old Bing. I myself went to his place three times on
New Year's Day to settle up, but probably because of the
stock-taking, I found it shut up. Then a month later, before I
left, I hadn't the money any more and I had also given a fair
number of Japanese things to Bernard, when I exchanged with
Only, be sure to take the 300 Hokusai views of the holy
mountain, as well as the pictures of Japanese life.
There is an attic in Bing's house with thousands of prints
piled up, landscape and figures, and old prints too. He will
let you choose for yourself some Sunday, so take plenty of old
prints as well. He'll take some of them out when he goes
through them, but he'll leave you many others.
As far as I could see, that manager is a very nice fellow,
and decent to anybody who is genuinely interested in
I myself cannot understand why you do not keep the lovely
Japanese things at the Boulevard Montmartre. He would give you
some of the best on commission, I am sure.
However, that's none of my business anyhow, but I am keen on
our own private stock. All the same, stress the point that we
make nothing on it: that we take a good deal of trouble
about it, and finally that we have sometimes been the means of
sending people to him.
The exhibition of prints that I had at the Tambourin
influenced Anquetin and Bernard a good deal, but what a
disaster that was!
As for the trouble we took over the second exhibition in the
room on Boulevard de Clichy, I regret it even less: Bernard
sold his first picture there, and Anquetin sold a study, and I
made an exchange with Gauguin; we all got something out of it.
If Gauguin likes, we could have an exhibition at Marseilles
just like it. But we can't count on the Marseilles crowd any
more than on Paris.
But please keep the Bing stock, it is too much of an
advantage. I have rather lost than gained on it as far as money
goes, but for all that, it gave me a chance to look at a lot of
Japanese stuff long and composedly. Your rooms would not be
what they are without the Japanese things always there.
Now the prints cost us 3 sous each, so for 100 francs, if we
pay the 90 francs, we shall have a new stock of 650 prints,
over and above whatever is left, or half that for the francs
I did not count on a 100 note this month after having
received 50's, thinking that you were up against the Gauguin
business and our sister's visit. So I will manage on that this
I am working on some drawings for Russell to get him to send
me some of his. I would willingly take Tanguy's flowers in
exchange for another study if he despairs of the flowers. It
just happens that we have hardly any more of these flowers, but
his bill is as absurd as a bill which I might draw up as
Portrait of Tanguy 50
Portrait of Mme. Tanguy 50
Portrait of Mme. Tanguy's friend 50
Money Tanguy has made on paints 50
Friendship, etc. 50
Total fr. 250
Settling this bill is not urgent. All the same, I should be
obliged to have something on account. But that's enough.
Ever yours, Vincent
By the way, about this book of Cassagne's, the difficulty of
finding the publisher, if there is any, will be over if I tell
you that the A B C D of Drawing by A. Cassagne is the
text (sold separately, at 5 francs, I think) of
Cassagne's Drawing for All, the 100 sections of which you
surely know. It has just occurred to me that the book has the
same publisher as the sections.
I have sent off a roll of drawings. If you went to see
Thomas with these and added the (four, I think) other drawings
of the same size, we might pick up a few pennies from Daddy
Thomas, if you explained to him the rather exceptional reason
we have at the moment for wanting to do a little business. Then
again, Thomas might buy something from Gauguin if he knows of
the combination we have planned.
If you pay the first deposit in full, why shouldn't we ask
200 franc's commission instead of less?
But on no account cancel the deposit. In a way all my work
is founded on Japanese art, and if I have held my tongue about
Bing, it is because I think that after my visit to the South, I
may be able to take up the business more seriously.
Japanese art, decadent in its own country, takes root again
among the French impressionist artists. It is its practical
value for artists that naturally interests me more than the
trade in Japanese things. All the same the trade is
interesting, all the more so because of the direction French
art tends to take.
Drop me a line to say if the drawings have reached you in
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 15 July 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 510.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.