8 October 1888 (unfinished - not sent)
My dear Theo,
It's not your fault, it's mine if it's
anyone's. Because I was wild to see my pictures in frames, and
I had ordered too many for my budget, seeing that the month's
rent and the charwoman also had to be paid. And even today is
going to drain me dry,
But I should not mind, my dear boy, if I did not feel that
you yourself must suffer from the pressure that this work puts
on us now. But I venture to think that if you saw the studies,
you would say I was right to work at white heat as long as it
was fine. It wasn't so the last few days, there is a merciless
mistral furiously sweeping along the dead leaves. But between
now and the winter there will be another spell of magnificent
weather and magnificent effects, and then the thing will be to
make another headlong spurt. I am so much taken up with the
work that I cannot come to a dead stop. Don't worry, the bad
weather will make me stop only too soon, like today, yesterday
and the day before yesterday too.
Do your utmost to persuade Thomas. He is bound to do
This is great news about Bague.
If these good gentlemen can make use of the Mauves as a
set-off for Corot, it may come off and it may be a true and
even a just thing. Because really, the Mauves, Mesdags or
Marises have a heavy effect beside Corot. It is none the less
true that they have bought a lot of it, even Mauve's last
watercolours. It was they who took them to be framed at that
place where we saw them, the man who made the frames for Reid's
Monticellis. I am almost sure that Bague will like my big
studies, the “Starry Sky,” “Furrows,”
etc., he will like some in the last batch much less. So far
Bague is in sympathy with me because he likes painting to be
rich and in full impasto. I have heard him on it often enough
in the past. I do not count at all on their buying, only it
would do no harm to tell Bague that I have some big studies
here - new ones - of autumn effects. And keep him going with
that. I should say you might show him and Thomas the white
orchard, “The Harvest” (size 30 canvas), but not
I have had walnut frames made for the two pictures of
“The Poet's Garden,” and they have a very good
effect. And now I am looking for a frame in yellowish chestnut.
It is as stiff and plain as the rim of a slate, but the tone of
the wood does well. Pine also goes well with the
“Furrows” and the “Vineyard.”
If you were very kind and would send me a louis by return
mail, I could get through the week and be spared the
“pinching” which accompanied the beginning of this
month. Without it I should get too run down, and I should not
have all my strength for the fine days which I hope we shall
have at the end of the week after the mistral.
Herewith another letter that I wrote about Gauguin's
portrait during the last few days. I am sending it to you
because I have no time to copy it out, but the chief thing is
that I underline this, That I do not like these atrocious
hardships of “the craft,” except in so far as they
show us the way. Our way is neither to endure them ourselves
nor to make others endure them, but the opposite.
I do not think I exaggerate about Gauguin's portrait, nor
about Gauguin himself.
He must eat and go for walks with me in lovely surroundings,
pick up a nice girl now and then, see the house as it is and as
we shall make it, and altogether enjoy himself.
He has lived cheaply, yes, but he has got so ill by doing it
that he can see no difference between a gay colour and a dismal
Well, that gets one nowhere.
It is high time that he came, no fear that he will recover
very soon. Meantime forgive me too if I exceed my allowance; I
shall work all the more. I promise you. But I have an absolute
horror of this melancholy à la Méryon.
You will see the two portraits of Gauguin and Bernard
someday, and compare them with the “Negresses.” And
you will see that he absolutely must cheer up.
Or else . . .
But none of that “or else,” we'll take it for
granted that he is going to cheer up.
But it is indeed high time.
I write in haste, I am working on a portrait.
That is to say, I am doing a portrait of Mother for myself.
I cannot stand the colourless photograph, and I am trying to do
one in a harmony of colour, as I see her in my memory.
A good handshake.
Ever yours, Vincent
Do not delay, if it does not leave you too short, do not
delay sending me the louis and the canvas.
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 8 October 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 546.
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