My dear Theo,
Many thanks for your kind letter and for the 50-fr. note
which it contained. Are you tolerably well, and is the weather
in Paris bearable?
We have days of sun and wind here. I walk a lot to get fresh
air. So far I am sleeping and eating at the hospital. Yesterday
and today I began to work. When Mme. Roulin also left to go and
live temporarily with her mother in the country, she took
“La Berceuse” with her. I had the study of it and
two repetitions. She had a good eye and took the best, only I
am doing it again at the moment and I do not
want it to be inferior.
In reply to Mourier's letter, which gave me pleasure, if
Gauguin wants to make an exchange with you for a copy of
“La Berceuse,” he can send it to his wife in
Denmark, and I should willingly see a canvas of mine going
there in this way. But as I have told you already, this canvas
may be unintelligible.
I should have liked to send something to Holland, but I
haven't enough confidence for that yet.
Can you see a blade of grass from your new apartment? I hope
As for Koning, really I daren't encourage him to come here
too much, even with his inclination to go wild about the Midi,
after the experience I have had of it now.
If he goes to Nice or Mentone, where it is perhaps
healthier, he is sure to be taken by the gambling crowd because
of his good nature, etc., for it is a real plague, that, even
here already, and it warps the character.
But if one has too many troubles, what is one to do
In short, you see that I do not yet quite know what to
Bernard also wrote to me. I have not yet been able to
answer, for it is so hard to explain the character of the
difficulties one may meet with here, and with our habits and
ways of thinking in the North or in Paris, it is fatal to stay
here long. In this part of the world you have to endure things
that are no joke.
It must be admitted, however, that in every town there is a
school of drawing and a set of collectors, but you realize
that, directed as they are by some invalids and idiots of the
Beaux-Arts, it is only make-believe and sham.
M. Salles handed the 50 francs over at once. I am very glad
that Gauguin has finished some lithographs.
Now it is not uncommon, it seems, to see even a whole
population in these parts seized with panic, as at Nice during
the earthquake. Just now the whole town is uneasy, no one
rightly knowing why, and I saw in the papers that actually
there have again been slight earthquake shocks in places not
far from here. The more reason then, I consider, why as far as
I am concerned I should wait with as much patience as I can
muster, hoping that things will clear up again. At another
time, if I were less impressionable, I should probably poke a
good deal of fun at what seems to me topsy-turvy and off-beat
in the ways of this country. At present it doesn't make a
particularly funny impression on me.
I understand what Gauguin must suffer more than ever, for in
the tropics he caught the very same thing, this excessive
sensitivity. In the hospital I actually saw a mad Negress, who
is staying there and working as a servant. Tell him that.
If you told Rivet that you are so uneasy about me, he would
certainly reassure you by telling you that because there is so
much sympathy and community of ideas between us, you feel
rather the same way. Do not think too much about me, as if it
were an obsession. Besides, I shall get along better if I know
you have peace of mind.
A good handshake. You are very kind to say I could come to
Paris, but I think the excitement of a big town would never do
for me. Good-by for now.
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 22 February 1889 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 578.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.