My dear Theo,
Many thanks for your kind letter, and the 100-fr. note
I have just had a letter from Bernard, who went some days
ago to join Gauguin, Laval and somebody else at Pont-Aven. It
was a very decent letter, but not one syllable in it about
Gauguin intending to join me, and not a syllable either about
wanting me to come there. All the same it was a very friendly
From Gauguin himself not a word for almost a month.
I myself think that Gauguin would rather try to fight his
way through with his friends in the North, and if by good luck
he sells one or more pictures, he may have other plans for
himself than coming to join me.
But haven't I, with less desire than he for the struggle in
Paris, the right to go my own way? Look here. As soon as you
can, would you, not give, but lend me 300 francs in one lump
sum for a year? Then, if I take it that at present you send me
250 francs a month, you will only send me 200 after this, until
the 300, paid out at once, would be paid off.
Then I should buy two decent beds all complete at 100 francs
each, and 100 franc's worth of other furniture.
That would mean that I could sleep at home, and could put up
Gauguin or anybody else.
That would mean a gain of 300 francs a year, for I pay a
franc a night to my landlord.
I should feel what it was like to have more of a fixed
abode, and really, it is only on this condition that one can
This would not increase my expenses for the whole year, but
it would provide me with some furniture and the possibility of
making both ends meet.
Then whether Gauguin comes or not is his own business, and
as soon as we are ready to have him, and his bed and room are
there, we shall be keeping our promise.
I insist on this, the plan remains just as real and solid
whether Gauguin comes or not, seeing that our object doesn't
change - to deliver me and one of the comrades from this cancer
that is gnawing at our work, this being forced to live in these
ruinous inns without any profit to ourselves.
It is pure madness.
To be carefree, to hope that someday or another one will be
free from want, what a dream! I should think myself very happy
if I could work for a wage just sufficient to keep me in peace
in my studio, all my life.
Well, though I repeat once more that I don't much care
whether I settle in Pont-Aven or in Arles, I intend to be
immovable on this point - of having a fixed studio, and
sleeping there and not at an inn.
If you are kind enough to enable Gauguin and myself to
settle down like that, I only say that if we do not take this
opportunity to escape from lodging-keepers, we are throwing all
your money, and our means of resisting this besieging poverty,
into the gutter.
On this my mind is quite made up, and I will not yield on
Under the present conditions, though I am spending money, I
haven't even what is necessary, and I do not feel I have
strength enough left to go on like this for long. If Gauguin
can find the same opportunity at Pont-Aven, it's all right; but
I'll tell you this, once here and this expense over, the work
would be done.
Well, I've said my say. I am not coming to Pont-Aven if I
have to stay at the inn with the English and the people from
the École des Beaux-Arts that you argue with every
evening. It's a storm in a teacup.
With a handshake,
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 18 August 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 523.
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