Theo to his sister Lies
5th August 1890
To say we must be grateful that he rests - I still hesitate
to do so. Maybe I should call it one of the great cruelties of
life on this earth and maybe we should count him among the
martyrs who died with a smile on their face.
He did not wish to stay alive and his mind was so calm
because he had always fought for his convictions, convictions
that he had measured against the best and noblest of his
predecessors. His love for his father, for the gospel, for the
poor and the unhappy, for the great men of literature and
painting, is enough proof for that. In the last letter which he
wrote me and which dates from some four days before his death,
it says, “I try to do as well as certain painters whom I
have greatly loved and admired.” People should realize
that he was a great artist, something which often coincides
with being a great human being. In the course of time this will
surely be acknowledged, and many will regret his early death.
He himself wanted to die, when I sat at his bedside and said
that we would try to get him better and that we hoped that he
would then be spared this kind of despair, he said, “La
tristesse durera toujours” [The sadness will last
forever]. I understood what he wanted to say with those
A few moments later he felt suffocated and within one minute
he closed his eyes. A great rest came over him from which he
did not come to life again.
At this time, Vincent was 37 year old
Theo van Gogh. Letter to Elisabeth van Gogh. Written 5 August 1890 in Paris. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number .
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