London, 25 Bedford Street, Strand 6
Thanks for your letter. I copied in your little book
“Meeresstille” [Calm Sea] by Heine, didn't I? Some
time ago I saw a picture by Thijs Maris that reminded me of it.
It represents an old Dutch town with rows of brownish-red
houses with stepped gables and high stoops; grey roofs; and
white or yellow doors, window frames and cornices. There are
canals with ships and a large white drawbridge under which a
barge with a man at the tiller passes the little house of the
bridge-keeper, who is seen through the window, sitting alone in
his little office. Farther on is a stone bridge across the
canal, over which some people and a cart with white horses are
And there is life everywhere: a porter with his wheelbarrow;
a man leaning against the railing of the bridge and looking
into the water; women in black with white bonnets.
In the foreground is a brick-paved quay with a black rail;
in the distance a church spire rises above the houses. A
greyish white sky is above.
It is a small picture, and the artist was looking down on
the scene. The subject is almost the same as that of the big J.
Maris, “Amsterdam,” which you probably know; but
this is talent and the other, genius.
I have copied a few more things for you which I will send
when I have a chance.
Don't forget “La Falaise” and anything else you
may happen to think of. That Victor Hugo is splendid. À
Dieu; my love to Father if you see him.
At this time, Vincent was 22 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 6 April 1875 in London. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 024.
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