My dear Theo,
Thank you a thousand times for your kind letter and the 300
francs it contained; after some worrying weeks I have just had
a much better one. And just as worries do not come singly,
neither do the joys. For just because I am always bowed down
under this difficulty of paying my landlord, I made up my mind
to take it gaily. I swore at the said landlord, who after all
isn't a bad fellow, and told him that to revenge myself for
paying him so much money for nothing, I would paint the whole
of his rotten shanty so as to repay myself.
Now, as for getting back the money I have paid to the
landlord by my painting, I do not dwell on that, for the
picture is one of the ugliest I have done. It is the
equivalent, though different, of the “ Potato
I have tried to express the terrible passions of humanity by
means of red and green.
The room is blood red and dark yellow with a green billiard
table in the middle; there are four lemon-yellow lamps with a
glow of orange and green. Everywhere there is a clash and
contrast of the most alien reds and greens, in the figures of
little sleeping hooligans, in the empty dreary room, in violet
and blue. The blood-red and the yellow-green of the billiard
table, for instance, contrast with the soft tender Louis XV
green of the counter, on which there is a rose nosegay. The
white clothes of the landlord, watchful in a corner of that
furnace, turn lemon-yellow, or pale luminous green.
I am making a drawing of it with the tones in watercolour to send to you
tomorrow, to give you some idea of it.
I wrote this week to Gauguin and Bernard, but I did not talk
about anything but pictures, just so as not to quarrel when
there is probably nothing to quarrel about.
But whether Gauguin comes or not, if I were to get some
furniture, henceforth I should have, whether in a good spot or
a bad one is another matter, a pied à terre, a home of
my own, which frees the mind from the dismalness of finding
oneself in the streets. That is nothing when you are an
adventurer of twenty, but it is bad when you have turned
Today in the Intransigeant I noticed the suicide of M. Bing
Levy. It can't be the Levy, Bing's manager, can it? I think it
must be someone else.
I am greatly pleased that Pissarro thought something of the
“Young Girl.” Did Pissarro say anything about the
“Sower”? Afterwards, when I have gone further in
these experiments, the “Sower” will still be the
first attempt in that style. The “Night
Café” carries on from the “Sower,” and
so also do the head of the old peasant and of the poet, if I
manage to do this latter picture.
It is colour not locally true from the point of view of the
trompe d'oeil realist, but colour to suggest some emotion of an
When Paul Mantz saw at the exhibition the violent and
inspired sketch by Delacroix that we saw at the Champs
Elysées - the “Bark of Christ” - he turned
away from it, exclaiming in his article: “I did not know
that one could be so terrible with a little blue and
Hokusai wrings the same cry from you, but he does it by his
line, his drawing; as you say in your
letter - “the waves are claws and the ship is caught in
them, you feel it.”
Well, if you make the colour exact or the drawing exact, it
won't give you sensations like that.
Anyhow, very soon, tomorrow or next day, I will write to you
again about this and answer your letter, and send you the
sketch of the “Night Café.”
Milliet is coming to see
you and pay his respects to you one of these days, he writes to
me that he is coming back.
Thank you again for the money you sent. If I went first to
look for another place, would it not very likely mean fresh
expense, equal at least to the expense of a removal? And then
should I find anything better all at once? I am so very glad to
be able to do the furnishing, and it can't but help me on. Many
thanks then, and a good handshake, till tomorrow.
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 8 September 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 533.
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