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My dear Theo,
I did not quite dare to hope for your new money order for 50
francs so soon, and I thank you very much for it.
I have a lot of expenses, and it worries me a good deal
sometimes when I realize more and more that painting is a
profession carried on most likely by exceedingly poor men, and
it costs so much money.
But the autumn still continues to be so beautiful! It's a
queer place, this native land of Tartarin's! Yes, I am content
with my lot, it isn't a superb, sublime country, this; it is
only a Daumier come to life.
Have you reread the Tartarins yet? Be sure not to forget. Do you
remember that wonderful page in Tartarin, the complaint of the
old Tarascon diligence? Well, I have just painted that red and
green vehicle in the courtyard of the inn. You will see it.
[A sketch of the Tarascon Diligence appears here.]
This hasty sketch gives you the composition, a simple
foreground of grey sand, background very simple too,
pink and yellow walls, with windows with green shutters, and a
corner of blue sky. The two carriages very colourful,
green and red, the wheels yellow, black, blue and orange.
Again a size 30 canvas. The carriages are painted like a Monticelli, thickly laid
paint. You used to have a very fine Claude Monet showing four coloured
boats on a beach. Well, here they are carriages, but the
composition is in the same style.
[A sketch of "Poet's Garden III" appears here.]
Now imagine an immense greenish-blue pine, spreading
its branches horizontally over a bright green lawn, and gravel
splashed with light and shade. This very simple patch of garden
is brightened by beds of geraniums, lead orange in the background
under the black branches. Two figures of lovers in the shade of
the great tree; size 30 canvas.
Then two other size 30 canvases, the Trinquetaille bridge
and another bridge, along the road passing under the railway.
[Two sketches of "The Railway Bridge" and "The Trinquetaille Bridge" appear here.]
This canvas is a little like a Bosboom in colour.
The Trinquetaille bridge with all these steps is a canvas done on a
grey morning, the stones, the asphalt, the pavements are grey;
the sky, pale blue, the figures, coloured; and there is a
sickly tree with yellow foliage. Two canvases in gray and
blended tones, and two highly coloured ones.
Forgive these very bad sketches, I am half dead with painting
that Tarascon diligence, and I see that I am not in the right
mood for drawing.
I am just going to have dinner and I'll write you again this
But these decorations are getting on a bit, and I think that
they will broaden my way of seeing and doing things.
There will be a thousand things to criticize in it, but
that's all right provided I can manage to get some verve into
But here's to the country of good old Tartarin, I am
enjoying myself in it more and more, and it is going to be our
second fatherland. Not that I forget Holland, the very
contrasts make one think of it many a time. I will go on with
this letter directly.
I am going on with it now. I so much wish I could show you
the work that I am doing.
I am really so tired that I can see my writing isn't
I'll write better another time, because the idea of this
decoration is beginning to take shape.
I wrote Gauguin again the day before yesterday to say once
again that he would probably recover more quickly here.
And he will do such beautiful things here.
He will need time to recover, I tell you. I assure you, I
believe that if ideas for my work come swarming over me now,
and more clearly too, eating decent cooked food has a lot to do
with it, and that is what everyone who paints ought to
What a lot of things there are that ought to be changed.
Isn't it true that all painters ought to live like workmen? A
carpenter or a blacksmith is accustomed to producing infinitely
more than they do. And in painting too we should have large
studios where each man would work with greater regularity.
Good-by for the present, because I still have a lot to say,
and I must make you some better sketches. I shall probably make
Thank you again very much for your money order. A good
Ever yours, Vincent
That's 5 canvases I have in progress this week, that brings
the number of these size 30 canvases for the decoration to 15, I think.
2 canvases of sunflowers
3 “ the poet's garden
2 “ the other garden
1 “ the night café
1 “ the Trinquetaille bridge
1 “ the railway bridge
1 “ the house
1 “ Tarascon diligence
1 “ the starry night
1 “ the furrows
1 “ the vineyard
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 13 October 1888 in Arles. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number 552.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.