[The sketch Raising of Lazarus was drawn here.
My dear Theo,
I think the best thing will be for me to go myself to see
this doctor in the country as soon as possible, then we can
soon decide if I shall go to stay with him or temporarily at
the inn; and thus we shall avoid too prolonged a stay in Paris,
a thing I dread.
You remember that six months ago I said after an attack that
if it was repeated I should ask you for a change. We have got
to this - though I do not feel capable of passing judgment on
the way they treat the patients, it is enough that I feel that
what still remains of my wits and of the power to work is
absolutely in danger, whereas on the contrary, I undertake to
prove to this doctor of whom you speak that I can still work
rationally, and he will treat me accordingly, and since he
likes painting, there is really a chance that a lasting
friendship will result.
I do not think that M. Peyron will object to a very prompt
departure; besides, I tell myself that the pleasure of spending
some days with you will do me a lot of good.
And from that time on we can really count on a period of
comparative health. So do not delay taking the necessary steps
so that this does not keep dragging on.
Once there, I can send for my bed, which is in Arles.
Besides, I should make a change in any case, as I prefer
being in an asylum where the patients work to this terrible
idleness here, which really seems to me simply a crime. But
then, you will tell me that one sees it practically everywhere,
and that it even abounds in Paris. However that may be, I hope
we shall see each other again shortly.
The etchings which you sent me are very fine. On the back of
this page I have scribbled a sketch after a painting I have
done of three figures which are in the background of the
etching of “Lazarus”: the dead man and his two
sisters. The cave and the corpse are white-yellow-violet. The
woman who takes the handkerchief away from the face of the
resurrected man has a green dress and orange hair, the other
has black hair and a gown of striped green and pink. In the
background a countryside of blue hills, a yellow sunrise.
Thus the combination of colours would itself suggest the
same thing which the chiaroscuro of the etching expresses.
If I should still have at my disposal the model who posed
for “La Berceuse,” and the other one whose portrait
after Gauguin's drawing you have just received, I would
certainly try to make a painting of it in large size, this
canvas, as these persons are just what I would have dreamed as
characters. But subjects of this kind aside, when I am back in
the North, there will always be the study from nature of
peasants and landscapes.
As for the order for paints, if I should have to stay here a
few more days, then please send part of them at
once. If, however, I am leaving one of these days -
which I hope - you can quite well keep them in Paris.
Write me soon in any case: I hope you will have received the
canvases safely. I have done another one of a nook of greenery,
which I think has some freshness. I have also tried a copy of
the “Good Samaritan” by Delacroix.
I think, from a note in the Figaro, that father Quost
must have a tremendous picture at the Salon.
Kind regards to your wife, I am looking forward to making
her acquaintance with great pleasure, and a good handshake in
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 37 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 3 May 1890 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 632.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.