Paris, 22 May 1889
My dear Vincent,
Many thanks for your letter; Jo too is very pleased with the
one you wrote her. 1 We hear with pleasure that your
trip to St. Rémy was accomplished without a hitch,
and that your stay there will not last very long, for it can
hardly be pleasant to be near so many lunatics. What I should
like is to be able to find people somewhere who would be able
to take care of you, and would leave you entirely at liberty
otherwise. Surely something like this might be found. If you
don't have such a dread of going back to Paris or its environs,
I myself would try to find a boarding house of this kind.
Please tell us in your next letter what you think of the
establishment where you are now staying. How are you treated,
do you get enough food, and what is the behaviour of the people
you have to do with? Do you see anything of the countryside?
Above all, don't harass yourself, either physically or
mentally, because for the moment it is better to do everything
in your power to regain your strength. Working will come of
itself after that.
Some days ago I got your consignment, which is very
important; there are superb things in it. Everything arrived in
good condition and without any damage. The cradle,
the portrait of Roulin, the little sower with the tree,
the baby, the starry night, the sunflowers and
the chair with the pipe and tobacco pouch are
the ones I prefer so far.
The first two are very curious. Certainly there is none of
the beauty which is taught officially in them, but they have
something so striking and so near to truth. Who can tell
whether we are more in the right than the simple people who buy
pictures with glaring colours? Or rather, isn't it a fact that
the charm they see in them is also an inspired sensation, as
much as that of the pretentious fellows who look at pictures in
museums? Now there is in your canvases a vigour which one
certainly does not find in the chromos; in the course of time
they will become very beautiful by reason of the settling of
the layers of paint and they will undoubtedly be appreciated
someday. When we see that the Pissarros, the Gauguins, the
Renoirs, the Guillaumins do not sell, one ought to be almost
glad of not having the public's favour, seeing that those who
have it now will not have it forever, and it is quite possible
that times will change very shortly. If you could see how
feeble the Salon and the Universal Exhibition are with regard
to the pictures, I think you would be of the opinion that they
will not last much longer. The Dutch school cuts a very good
figure beside them.
There are two watercolours by J.H. Weissenbruch which I am
particularly fond of, also pieces by Willem and Jacob Maris and
Bosboom, IsraÃ«ls and Breitner. One of the
Weissenbruchs is a mill on the bank of a canal, a blue sky with
a little cloud hiding the sun. The other is a canal at night
with boats in the moonlight. He is a thundering good artist,
that one, but Tersteeg says he isn't saleable.
Not long ago I saw Gauguin, who is now working at sculpting.
Within a short time he will go to Pont-Aven, where De Haan is
staying already. It seems that before long there will be an
exhibition of the Independents; I should like very much to know
what you think of it, and which canvases you think are most
suitable to be shown. I hear tell that everyone can exhibit
four canvases, as there is not enough room to admit more.
I shall write again soon, and you write me too if you are
feeling well A cordial handshake,
See Vincent letter 591.
At this time, Vincent was 36 year old
Theo van Gogh. Letter to Vincent van Gogh. Written 21 May 1889 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number T09.
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