My dear Theo,
I was busy writing you to send you the reply for M. Aurier
when your letter arrived. I'm very glad that Jo and the little
one are well and that she expects to be able to get up a few
days from now. Then what you tell me about our sister also
interests me very much. I think she was lucky to see Degas at
And so Gauguin has returned to Paris. I am going to copy my
reply to M. Aurier to send to him, and you must make him read
this article in the Mercure, for really I think they
ought to say things like that of Gauguin, and of me only very
secondarily. Gauguin wrote me that he had exhibited in Denmark
and that this exhibition had been a great success. It seems a
pity to me that he did not stay on here a little longer.
Together we should have worked better than I have all by myself
this year. And now we should have a little house of our own to
live and work in, and could even put others up.
Did you notice in the paper you sent me an article about the
productivity of certain artists, Corot, Rousseau,
Dupré, etc? Do you remember how many times, when
Reid was there, we talked about the same thing - the
necessity of producing a lot.
And that, shortly after I came to Paris, I said to you that
I should be unable to do anything until I had 200 canvases,
which would seem that for some natures, working too quickly is
really all in the day's work, the normal condition of regular
production, considering that a painter really ought to work
quite as hard as a shoemaker, for instance.
Wouldn't it be a good idea to send Reid, and perhaps
Tersteeg too, or rather C. M., a copy of Aurier's article? It
seems to me that we ought to take advantage of it to dispose of
something in Scotland, either now or later.
I think you will like the canvas for M. Aurier; it is in a
terribly thick impasto and worked over like some Monticellis; I
have kept it for almost a year. But I think I must try to give
him something good for this article, which is very much a work
of art in itself; and it will do us a real service against the
day when we, like everybody else, shall be obliged to try to
recover what the pictures cost. Anything beyond that leaves me
pretty cold, but recovering the money it costs to produce is
the very condition of being able to go on.
As to the Impressionists' exhibition in March, I hope to
send you a few more canvases, which are drying at the moment;
if they do not arrive in time, you could make a selection from
the ones that are at old Tanguy's.
I have tried to copy the “Men Drinking” by
Daumier and the “Convict Prison”
by Doré; it is very difficult.
One of these days I hope to start on the “Good
Samaritan” by Delacroix and the “Woodcutter”
But it seems to me that there is no
hurry about this, and we must consider coolly if this is the
moment to spend money on the journey; perhaps we could do
something for Gauguin or Lauzet by giving up the journey.
All things considered, life is not very expensive here, I
think that in the North we should spend somewhat more.
And that's why - even if I came to you for some time - the
best policy would still be to go on with the work here.
I don't know - either way seems good to me - but we mustn't
be in a hurry to change.
And don't you think that in Antwerp - if we carried out
Gauguin's plan - it would be necessary to maintain a certain
position, to furnish a studio, in fact to do as the greater
part of the established Dutch painters do. It isn't so simple
as it looks, and I should fear, for him as well as for me, a
regular siege by the established artists, and there would be
the same business as there was in Denmark all over again.
Altogether we must begin by realizing that the established
painters can do harm in the same old way to adventurers such as
we should be in Antwerp, and might force us to clear out. And
as for the dealers there, we mustn't count on them at all.
The academy there is better, and they work more vigorously
there than in Paris.
And besides, at present Gauguin is constantly in Paris, his
reputation holds there, and if he leaves for Antwerp, he might
find that it is more or less difficult to return to
In going to Antwerp, I should fear more for Gauguin than for
myself, for naturally I'd shift for myself with the Flemings, I
should again take up the peasant studies started some time ago,
and very regretfully abandoned. There is no need to tell you
that I have a strong affection for the Campine. But I foresee
that for him the struggle might be very hard, I think that you
must tell him the pros and cons exactly as I should. I will
write him soon, mainly to send him my reply to M. Aurier's
article, and I should think that, if he liked, we could work
together again here if his attempts to find a shelter do not
succeed. But he is very clever, and perhaps he will manage in
Paris itself, and if his reputation holds there, he will do
well, for he always has this, that he was the very first to
work in the tropics. And this question will necessarily come up
again. Give him my kindest regards, and if he likes, he can
take the repetitions of the “Sunflowers” and the
repetition of “La Berceuse” in exchange for
something of his that you would like.
If I came to Paris, I should have to touch up several
canvases done at the beginning here, it isn't lack of work I
should be suffering from there.
Kind regards to Jo, and a good handshake in thought.
Ever yours, Vincent
Please send the enclosed letter, after you have read it, to
At this time, Vincent was 36 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 10 or 11 February 1890 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 626.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.