My dear Theo,
Yesterday I was agreeably surprised by a visit from M.
Salles, who, I think, had had a letter from you.
For the moment it seems to me the best thing will be to stay
here. I shall see what M. Peyron says when I have the
opportunity to speak to him; he will probably say that he can
guarantee absolutely nothing in advance, which seems quite
right to me.
Today I sent off some canvases, as follows:
“Ploughed Field” with
background of mountains - it is the same field as the reapers
of last summer and can be a pendant to it; I think that one
will set off the other.
“The Ravine” - it is the study done during a
mistral - I had secured my easel with big stones - the picture
of this is not dry; it has a closer drawing and there is more
controlled passion and more colour in it.
That can go with another study of mountains, summer effect
with a road in the foreground and a black cottage.
“The Women Gathering Olives” - I had intended
this picture for Mother and sister, so that they should have
something a little studied.
I also have a copy of it for you, and the study (more
coloured, with deeper tones) from nature.
“The Fields.” Fields of young wheat with
background of lilac mountains and yellowish sky.
“Olive Trees” - sunset sky of orange and green
(there is also a variant with figures here).
Ditto. Neutral effect.
Ditto. Neutral effect.
The big plane trees - the chief street or boulevard of St.
Rémy, study from nature - I have
a repetition of it here which is perhaps more finished.
Copy after Millet: “The Diggers.”
I must not forget “Rain.”
Please don't look at them without putting them on stretchers
and framing them in white, that is to say you must take down
other canvases and mount these on the stretchers one by one -
if you like - to get an idea of the effect. For the colourings
absolutely need to be set off by the white frame for you to
judge the whole. For instance, you can hardly see
“Rain” and the grey olive trees without the frame.
That will somewhat fill the gap left by the canvases gone to
the Vingtistes - you must ask Tanguy to take down some other
canvases and mount these on the stretchers so that they can dry
all the way through.
In your previous letter you speak of drawings by Hugo - I
have just seen a volume of the Histoire de France (illustrated)
by Michelet. I saw admirable drawings by Vierge in it, which
were just like Victor Hugo's, astonishing things. Do you know
it? When you see M. Lauzet, ask him if he knows them, they
remind me of Hervier's talent too, but more complete, with
figures and more dramatic effects - again they are like
Menzel's illustrations for the Life of Frederick the
Great. Very curious. I think that Vierge has also gone
to Charenton, but how that fellow has worked; at the time Boggs
had a magnificent wood engraving by him, probably published in
L'Illustration: “Sea Bathing” - a crowd of men and
women - drawn like Doré, who once did exactly the
same subject beautifully in a plate republished in
L'Illustration - but then in Vierge you get Daumier's rich
I hope you and Jo are well and that you aren't worried on my
Write me - if you can - soon, when you have received the
canvases. A good handshake in thought for you and your
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 36 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 3 January 1890 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 621.
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