van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to His Mother
Saint-Rémy, c. 20 February 1890
Relevant paintings:

"Blossoming Almond Tree," Vincent van Gogh

"The Red Vineyard," Vincent van Gogh

Dear Mother,

I intended to answer your letter many days ago, but I could not bring myself to write, as I sat painting from morning to evening, and thus the time passed. I imagine that, like me, your thoughts are much with Jo and Theo: how glad I was when the news came that it had ended well: it was a good thing that Wil stayed on. I should have greatly preferred him to call the boy after Father, of whom I have been thinking so much these days, instead of after me; but seeing it has now been done, I started right away to make a picture for him, to hang in their bedroom, big branches of white almond blossom against a blue sky.

I thank you very much for the news about Cor, don't forget to give him my regards when you write him. I suppose you will be back in Leyden by now. These last days we have had rather bad weather here, but today it was a real spring day, and the fields of young wheat, with the violet hills in the distance, are so beautiful, and the almond trees are beginning to blossom everywhere.

I was rather surprised at the article they wrote about me. Isaäcson wanted to do one some time ago, and I asked him not to; I was sorry when I read it, because it is so exaggerated; the problem is different - what sustains me in my work is the very feeling that there are several others doing the same thing I am, so why an article on me and not on those six or seven others, etc.?

But I must admit that afterward, when my surprise had passed off a little, I felt at times very much cheered by it; Compared with other prices, also those in Holland, this is little, but therefore I try to be productive to be able to go on working at a reasonable cost. And if we have to try to earn our bread with our hands, I have to make up for pretty considerable expenses. The letter from you and Wil has just arrived, many thanks for it; I'd have written you before, but as I said, my head felt so little like writing because of rather hard work.

Now I am strongly inclined to take advantage of my good luck in selling this picture by going to Paris to visit Theo. And thanks to the physician here, I shall leave feeling calmer and healthier than when I came. Trying how it goes outside a hospital is perhaps only natural.

Though work may perhaps be more difficult when I am free again.

Well, let's hope for the best. It is curious that my friend with whom I worked for some time in Arles should want to go to Antwerp, and that way I should be a little nearer to all of you. But I am afraid this is not quite practicable, also because I think it would be more expensive, and when one is used to the climate here, perhaps one's health might not be able to stand being back in the North. But I will begin by trying it a few weeks in Paris.

An embrace in thought.

Your loving Vincent

  1. The “Red Vineyard,”, bought by Miss Anna Bock.

At this time, Vincent was 36 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to His Mother. Written c. 20 February 1890 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 627.

This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.
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