My dear Theo,
Many thanks for your letter and the 100-fr. note it
I have just bought a dressing table with everything
necessary, and my own little room is complete. The other one,
Gauguin's or another lodger's, still needs a dressing table and
a chest of drawers, and downstairs I shall need a big frying
pan and a cupboard.
There is no hurry for this, and already I can see myself
earning enough to be safe for a long time to come.
You cannot think what peace of mind it gives me, I am so set
on making an artist's home, but one for practical use, and not
the ordinary studio full of knick-knacks.
I am also thinking of planting two oleanders in tubs in
front of the door.
After all we shall probably spend several times fewer
hundreds of francs than Russell, for example, will spend
thousands. And truly, even if I could choose between the two,
for my own part I should rather have the hundred-franc method,
so long as every piece of furniture is solid and big.
But the room where I shall put up anybody who comes this way
will be like a boudoir, and when it is finished, you will see
that it will not be a haphazard production, but a deliberate
The text of Bing's Japon is rather dry, and leaves something
to be desired; he says there is a great individual art, but
though he gives a few scraps of it, he gives you no real
impression of the character of that art.
Have you read Madame Chrysanthème yet?
Mother's photograph gave me very great pleasure, because you
can see that she is well, and because she still has such a
lively expression. But I do not care for it at all as a real
likeness; I have just painted my own portrait, in the same
ashen colouring, and unless we are painted in colour, the
result is nowhere near a speaking likeness. Just because I had
taken a terrific amount of trouble to get the combination of
ashen and grey-pink tones, I could not like the portrait in
black and white. Would Germinie Lacerteux really be Germinie
Lacerteux without her colour? Obviously not. How I would like
to have painted portraits of her own family.
For the second time I have scraped off a study of Christ
with the angel in the Garden of Olives. You see, I can see real
olives here, but I cannot or rather I will not paint any more
without models; but I have the thing in my head with the
colours, a starry night, the figure of Christ in blue, all the
strongest blues, and the angel blended citron-yellow. And every
shade of violet, from a blood-red purple to ashen, in the
I have been to get five size 30 stretchers, so I have even
more ideas. I'm having the pictures that I'm keeping here
framed in oak and walnut.
It will take time, but you'll see later on.
I hope that you will give me some details of your visit to
Maurin. I like the drawing of the two women in the carriage
Even if it is some time before anyone comes here to stay
with me, it won't make me change my mind about this step being
urgent and being useful in the long run. This art that we are
working in, we feel it has a long future before it, and one
must be quietly settled, like steady people, and not like
decadents. Here my life will become more and more like a
Japanese painter's, living close to nature like a petty
tradesman. And that, you well know, is a less gloomy affair
than the decadent's way. If I can live long enough, I shall be
something like old Tanguy.
After all, we don't really know anything about our own
personal future, but we nevertheless feel that impressionism
will last. Good-by for the present and good luck, and many,
many thanks for all your kindness. I think that I shall put the
Japanese things downstairs in the studio. A handshake.
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 22 September 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 540.
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