My dear Theo,
For I was terribly uneasy lest I should be forcing you to
make an effort beyond your strength. On the one hand I thought
that I could not do better than carry through the thing we had
begun when persuading Gauguin to join us, and on the other, as
you may know from experience, when one is furnishing or
settling down, it is a lot more difficult than one thinks. Now
I hope to breathe easily at last, since we have all had a
tremendous stroke of luck in your being able to sell a picture
for Gauguin. One way or another, all three of us, he and you
and I, can pull ourselves together enough to realize what we
Do not be afraid that I shall be worried about money. Now
Gauguin has come, the object is for the moment attained.
With the two of us sharing expenses, we shan't spend more for
two than it has cost one to live alone.
He can even save money in proportion to his selling. It will
help him, say in a year, to settle in Martinique, which he
otherwise could not save enough money for.
You will have my work and also a picture from him every
month. And I shall do just as much work without having so much
trouble - so many expenses. Even a long time ago I thought that
the combination we have just made would be good policy. The
house is getting on very well indeed, and is becoming not only
comfortable but an artist's house too.
So have no fear for me, nor for yourself either.
But Gauguin is
astonishing as a man, he does not let himself get out of hand,
and he will wait here very quietly, working hard, for the right
moment to take a great step forward. He needs rest as much as I
do. With the money he has just earned, he certainly could have
treated himself to a rest cure in Brittany just as well, but
as things are now, he is sure of being able to wait without
getting fatally into debt once more. Together we
shall not spend more than 250 fr. a month. And we shall spend
much less on paint, since we are going to make it
ourselves. So on your part, don't be uneasy about us, and have
a breathing spell too, you need it badly.
On my part I just want to tell you that I ask only to go on
at an average rate of 150 a month (and the same for Gauguin).
In any case that reduces my personal expenses. While his
pictures are sure to go up.
After that, if you keep my pictures for yourself, either in
Paris or here, I should so much rather be able to say bluntly
that you prefer to keep my work for ourselves and not sell it
than join in the scuffle for money just now. Honestly. Besides,
if what I am doing should be good, then we shall lose nothing
in the money line, for it will mature quietly, like wine in the
cellar. In another way it is only right that I should take some
trouble to make a painting such that even from the
financial point of view it is better that it should be on my
canvas than in the tubes.
Now, in conclusion, I venture to hope that in six months
Gauguin and you and I will all see that we have founded a
little studio which will last, and which will remain an outpost
or a way station, necessary or at least useful to all who want
to see the South.
I shake your hand firmly.
Ever yours, Vincent
I do not yet know what Gauguin thinks of my decorations in
general, I only know that there are already some studies which
he really likes, like the sower, the sunflowers, and the
And as for the whole, I do not in the least know myself yet,
because I need some more canvases of the other seasons. Gauguin
has already very nearly found his Arlésienne, and I wish
I had got that far, but for my part it is the landscape that
comes to me, and I find it varied enough. So after all my
modest work is going on as usual.
I venture to think that you will like the new
I am writing in haste; we have loads of work to do. He and I
intend to make a tour of the brothels pretty often, so as to
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 28 October 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 558.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.