[Letter to his friend Eugène Boch]
My dear friend Bock,
Many thanks for your letter which pleased me very much. I
congratulate you on not having hesitated this time and on
having attacked the Borinage. There you have a field where you
will be able to work all your life [illegible] - the
extraordinary scenery [as well] as the figure.
Now I must tell you a piece of news, namely that I have
furnished the house at last and that I have immediately
furnished a bedroom for Gauguin or for anyone else who should
The house is a lot brighter now that it is furnished. After
that I have worked like blazes, for the fall is without wind
and superb. I am also working on seven square size 30 canvases.
In the first place the night café where I have stayed
with lamp light effect, painted in the nighttime.
Three views of the public garden in front of the house.
[Here appears a sketch of a lost painting, Poet's Garden II.]
This is one of the views. A round clipped cypress or cedar
shrub of a bottle green on a yellow-green lawn. In the
background a row of oleanders and two figures. A sky of raw
cobalt. You see, it is even a lot simpler than formerly.[Painting lost]
Then ploughed fields; a scenery with nothing but lumps of
earth, the furrows the colour of an old wooden shoe under a
forget-me-not blue sky with white cloud flocks.
Further a view of my house and its surroundings in a sulphur
sun. The sky hard and bright cobalt. - A difficult job, I tell you!
Then a view of the café on Forum Square where we used
to go, painted by night.
And lastly a study of the Rhône - of the town lighted
with gas reflected in the blue river.
Over it the starry sky with the Great Bear - a sparkling of
pink and green on the cobalt blue field of the night sky,
whereas the lights of the town and its ruthless reflections are
red gold and bronzed green.
The garden with the oleanders and the round clipped shrub
has an impasto like painted porcelain.
Your portrait is in my bedroom along with that of Milliet,
the Zouave, which I have just finished. I should like to ask
you to exchange one of your studies of the coal-mines for
something of mine, - but stop! - I myself am going to send you
a study first, when I am sure it is one which will seem wholly
unknown to you. For if you saw the night studies you might like
them better than the sunlight studies. Well, leave it to me.
For I hope that our intercourse once started will last
Everything you'll do will interest me extraordinarily,
because I love that dismal country of the Borinage, which will
always remain unforgettable to me, so much.
In the same way
in the Borinage Marcusse, or from Antoine to Petit Wasmes. And
further the Cour de l'Agrappe in Frameries where you are now.
As a matter of fact it was in the Borinage that I first started
to work from nature. But of course I destroyed it all a long
But it stirs my heart that these spots are going to be
painted at last.
You will see how easily ideas will come to you.
I am writing you in a great hurry, but I wanted to answer
your letter at once.
Enclosed a pretty bad sketch of the starry night. All these
pictures are square size 30 canvases. If you had stayed here
until now, you would have taken along other studies! For I tell
you the scenery has been extraordinarily beautiful.
More than once I have done a size 30 canvas in one day, but
then I did not stir from the spot from morning till sunset
except to eat a morsel. My brother wrote me he saw you in
passing. Well, I hope we'll meet again next year. Above all
don't forget to let me have your address when you move, or to
give me your exact permanent address in La Louvière, if
my memory serves me well, for it will be excellent to work
continuously in the mining district, and also to see something
quite different come to the country of the oleanders and the
Is your sister going to do the miners too? Surely there is
work enough for two. I think it is a very pleasant thing for
you to be both painting in the same house.
[See the reproduction of part of the letter.]
Well, I must go out to work in the vineyard near Mont
Majour. It is all purple and yellow-green under a blue sky, a
beautiful colour motif.
A hearty handshake and good courage and a lot of success
with your work.
Excuse my great hurry; I haven't even time to read this
[Published by Dr. J. B. de la Faille in the Kroniek van
Kunst en Kultuur (Chronicle of Art and Culture), March
[Sketch of "The Starry Night over the Rhône"
was enclosed with letter.]
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Eugne Boch. Written 2 October 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number .
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