My dear comrade Bernard,
Thanks for your kind letter and for the enclosed sketches of
your decoration, which I think very funny. Sometimes I regret
that I cannot make up my mind to work more at home and
extempore. The imagination is certainly a faculty which we must
develop, one which alone can lead us to the creation of a more
exalting and consoling nature than the single brief glance at
reality - which in our sight is ever changing, passing like a
flash of lightning - can let us perceive.
A starry sky, for example. See, that's a thing I'd
like to try to do, just as by day I want to
try to paint a green meadow spangled with starry dandelions. Yet how can I do it,
unless I work it out at home, and from my imagination? Of course, this
faults my idea while yours gets praised.
At the moment I am absorbed in the blooming fruit trees,
pink peach trees, yellow-white pear trees. For that
matter here is a sketch, the entrance to a Provençal
orchard with its yellow fences, its enclosure of black
cypresses (against the mistral), its characteristic vegetables
of varying greens: yellow lettuces, onions, garlic, emerald
In short, my dear comrade, in no case an eye-deceiving job.
As for visiting Aix, Marseilles, Tangier, no fear of that.
If notwithstanding this I should go there, it would be in
search of cheaper lodgings. Otherwise I am convinced that even
if I were to work all my life, I should not be able to do one
half of all that is characteristic in this town alone.
By the way, I have seen bullfights in the arena, or rather
sham fights, seeing that the bulls were numerous but there was
nobody to fight them. However, the crowd was magnificent, those
great colourful multitudes piled up one above the other on two
or three galleries, with the effect of sun and shade and the
shadow cast by the enormous ring.
I wish you a good journey - a handshake in thought.
Your friend, Vincent
By this Vincent meant “photographic deadness,”
for to him photography with its one dead eye produced an
[Sketch “Orchard with Cypresses enclosed with letter.]
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Emile Bernard. Written 9 April 1888 in Arles. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number B03.
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