My dear Theo,
We have hardly exhibited, have we? There have been a few
canvases, first at Tanguy's, afterward at Thomas's, and then at
Now as for myself, I tell you flatly that I can see no use
even in that, and it really seems to me much better if you
simply keep the studies you like in your apartment, and send
the others back here rolled up, since the apartment is small,
and if you kept everything, they would crowd it up.
Then, without hurrying ourselves, I am going on down here,
getting the staff ready for a more serious exhibition.
But as for the Revue Indépendante, please tell them
curtly it's no go. It's too good an opportunity, and you will
feel that they are greatly mistaken if they think I am going to
pay for being put on view in such a dark, suspect little hole
Now as to showing a few canvases at Tanguy's and Thomas's,
it's a matter of such indifference to me that it isn't worth
talking about, but above all remember that I simply don't care.
I already know what I shall do the moment I have enough
canvases. Right now I am only concerned with making them.
What will please you is that Gauguin has finished his canvas
of the “Women Grape Gatherers.” It is as beautiful
as the Negresses, and if you paid say the same price as for the
Negresses (400, I think) it would be well worth it. But of
course you have the lot to choose from, and I have not seen the
Breton things. He has described several to me, and they must be
I have done a rough sketch of the brothel,
and I quite intend to do a brothel picture. Gauguin came here
on October 20, so we must figure that he had 50 francs from you
Yes, I think there must be a clear understanding about the
exhibition of my work. You are with the Goupils, you have no
right to do business outside the firm. I myself, being away, do
not exhibit. I repeat, it is another matter at Tanguy's
provided Tanguy fully understands that he has no right to my
Then my position is at least clear, which is not altogether
immaterial to me.
With a little more work behind me, I shall have enough not
to have to exhibit at all, that is what I am aiming at.
I too have finished a canvas of a vineyard all purple and
yellow, with small blue and violet figures and a yellow sun.
I think that you will be able to put this canvas besides
some of Monticelli's landscapes.
I am going to set myself to work from memory often, and the
canvases from memory are always less awkward, and have a more
artistic look than studies from nature, especially when one
works in mistral weather.
I think I haven't yet told you that Milliet has gone to
Africa. He got a study of mine for troubling to take the
canvases to Paris [Unknown painting], and Gauguin gave him a small drawing in
exchange for an illustrated edition of Madame
Chrysanthème. I have not yet received the exchanges from
Pont-Aven, but Gauguin assures me that the canvases were
We are having wind and rain here, and I am very glad not to
be alone. I work from memory on bad days, and that would not do
if I were alone.
Gauguin has also almost finished his night café. He
is very interesting as a friend, We find it very easy to make frames with
plain strips of wood nailed on the stretcher and
painted, and I have begun doing this.
Do you know that Gauguin is really partly the inventor of
the white frame? But the frame of four strips nailed on the
stretcher costs 5 sous, and we are certainly going to
perfect it. It does very well, because the frame has no
projection, and is one with the picture.
Good-by for now, a handshake for you, and my compliments to
Ever yours, Vincent
Gauguin sends his greetings, and asks you to keep, out of
the price of the first picture you sell, the amount necessary
for the stretchers with screws that he wants, and also what
Bernard will be asking you for a commission he gave him.
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 12 November 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 561.
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