My dear Theo,
A letter from Gauguin, paying me heaps of undeserved
compliments, and adding that he will not be coming till the end
of the month.
And that he has been ill, and dreads the journey. What can I
do about it…but after all, when you come to think of it,
is it such a devastating journey when the worst lung cases
When he comes, he will be welcome. If he does not come,
well, it's his own lookout; but isn't it or oughtn't it to be
clear that he is coming here for the very purpose of getting
And he asserts that he has to stay where he is to recover!
The absurdity of it, really.
Thanks for your postal order for 20 francs. I put 35 francs
for the dressing table and chest of drawers on my list of
necessary purchases. Well now, I have just bought one at 14
francs, and paid for it, of course.
Send me an order for those 14 francs, I beg you.
I felt less hesitant about getting this piece of furniture
because I want to be ready in case Gauguin should come
I enclose a copy of my answer to his rather too
complimentary letter. Since he is not coming at once,
I want all the more to try to have everything in good order,
and in readiness for him when he does come. I have done a
new size 30 canvas, and I expect to begin a new one this
evening, when the gas is lit.
The one I have just done is another garden.
These days I always have the feeling that I am spending
money, but every day too it astonishes me to find how I get it
back from the house. Truly, it does you good to come home, and
it gives you new ideas for work. Gauguin writes very nicely,
but all the same he does not say why he is not coming at once.
He says - “because he is ill,” but wasn't he coming
here to recover? I thought that was precisely what we had in
Anyway - let them do just as they please.
Ever yours, Vincent
[Reply to Gauguin's letter]
My dear Gauguin,
Thanks for your letter - far too flattering to me. So you
are not coming till the end of the month.
Very good - since you really think that you will get better
more quickly in Brittany than here.
I don't insist on it, only if your recovery is not very
speedy in Brittany, remember that we claim to be able to
cure you more quickly here than there. Come, everything is
always for the best in this best of worlds, in which we have -
according to good old Pangloss anyhow - the ineffable happiness
of living. In this case I have no doubt at all that everything
will be for the best. But is it absolutely true that the
journey to Arles is as exhausting as you say? Nonsense, since
the worst lung cases make it. You well know that the P. L.
M.1 exists for that.
Or are you more seriously ill than you say? I am afraid so,
and if you can, either reassure me on this point, or else write
definitely that you are ill and in a bad way. But you write
about business, and talk about lithographs. This is what I
Contradict me if you like, I don't insist on it, but still I
say what I say. I have already had some experience with one
attempt, but the “besides” that I add means that it
would not last, and above all would never interest the public.
And it will go on costing us money.
Even if it did cost us money, I am actually all for
making the lithographs in question. But as for
publication, on the other hand, even free of cost
If it is at our expense and for our own pleasure and use,
then I tell you again, I am for it. If you are thinking of
something else, I am not for it; do not tell me that one costs
as little as the other if it's a question of publishing.
Yours sincerely, Vincent
And do come as soon as you possibly can!
P.S. to Gauguin. If you are not ill, do please come at once.
If you are too ill, a wire and a letter, please.
P.S. to Theo. Perhaps you will think the P.S. to Gauguin too
curt, but let him say whether or not he is ill, and anyhow he
will recover better here. Have you received my canvases???
The Paris-Lyons-Marseilles express.
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 10 October 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 549.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.