Arles, 18th March 1888
My dear Bernard,
Having promised to write, I want to begin by telling you
that the country struck me as being as beautiful as Japan for
the limpidity of the atmosphere and gay colour effects. The
water makes patches of a beautiful emerald and a rich blue in
the landscapes, such as we see in crepons [Japanese prints]. The
pale orange setting sun making the land appear blue. Splendid
Meanwhile I haven't really seen the country in its normal
The costumes of the women are pretty and especially on
Sunday one sees on the boulevard very naive and well-found
colour arrangements. And that without doubt will become even
brighter in summer.
I regret that life here is not as cheap as I had hoped it
would be, and up to now I have not found better bargains than
you would find in Pont Aven.
I started out by paying 5 Fr. and now I am down to 4 Francs
a day. It would be necessary to know the locals here and to
know how to eat bouillabaisse and aïoli [garlic paté] and
also one needs to find an inexpensive little bourgeois pension.
If there were several of us, I am given to believe, conditions
would be more advantageous. There would be perhaps a real
advantage as well for artists who love the sun and colour that
exist in the Midi. At
the top of this letter I am sending you a small sketch of a
study that I am trying to make something of - sailors with
their sweethearts going up to the town, which is profiled by
the strange silhouette of its drawbridge on a huge yellow sun.
I have another study of the same drawbridge
with a group of washerwomen. I will be happy
with a word from you to know what you are doing and where you
are going. A good cordial handshake to you and to our
The best to you,
[See illustration of page one and page
two of the letter.]
At this time, Vincent was 34 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Emile Bernard. Written 18 March 1888 in Arles. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number B02.
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