van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(26 July 1882)
... distance, better light, more room. Last night I received a parcel from home. Among other things there was a sort of spring coat, which comes in very handy. I thought it very kind of them. And there was tobacco in it, and cigars, and cake and some underwear. In short, quite a parcel. Wasn't that nice of them? I appreciate it perhaps more for the kind thought than for anything else. I also had a letter from Van Rappard. I am confoundedly pleased that the fellow is so absorbed in his English wood engravings. It is true I encouraged him in the beginning, but now he no longer needs any encouragement, he is almost as enthusiastic about it as I. When you come, I will show you a few which you will not soon forget after you have seen them. And there are things among them quite different from Boughton's style, for instance, though he certainly is also one of the main ones. I mean things remarkable for their reality and style, like Albrecht Dürer's, and yet at the same time ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(19 August 1882)
... agree with several points in your letter. Especially, I fully agree that, with all their good and bad qualities, Father and Mother are the kind of people who are becoming rare in the present time - more and more rare - and perhaps the new type is not at all better - and so one must appreciate them that much more. Personally, I do indeed appreciate them. I am only afraid that the feeling about which you reassured them for the time being would come back, especially if they saw me again. They will never be able to understand what painting is. They cannot understand that the figure of a labourer—some furrows in a ploughed field - a bit of sand, sea and sky—are serious subjects, so difficult, but at the same time so beautiful, that it is indeed worth while to devote one's life to expressing the poetry hidden in them. In the future, whenever they saw me toiling and pegging away at my work — scraping it out and changing it — now severely comparing it to...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(8 October 1882)
... necessary. I also owe Stam something. Just imagine, this week to my great surprise I received a parcel from home, with a winter coat, a pair of warm trousers and a warm woman's coat. It touched me very much. I can't get that churchyard with the wooden crosses out of my mind. Perhaps I shall make some studies of it beforehand. I should like to make it in the snow - a peasant's burial or the like - in short, an effect like the enclosed sketch of miners . To complete the seasons, I am sending you a little sketch of the spring and another of the fall; they came into my mind while I was making the first one. How beautiful it is outside now! I try my best to catch the autumn effects. I am writing you in a great hurry. I can assure you those compositions with figures are no joke, and I am deep in my work. It is like weaving - one needs all one's attention to keep the threads apart - one must manage to keep an eye on several things at once. The little drawing...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 20 December 1889)
... me more than before. And then I think so much of you and of the past. You and Father have been, if possible, even more to me than to the others, so much, so very much, and I do not seem to have had a happy character. I discovered that in Paris, how much more Theo did his best to help Father practically than I, so that his own interests were often neglected. Therefore I am so thankful now that Theo has got a wife and is expecting his baby. Well, Theo had more self-sacrifice than I, and that is deeply rooted in his character. And after Father was no more and I came to Theo in Paris, then he became so attached to me that I understood how much he had loved Father. And now I am saying this to you, and not to him - it is a good thing that I did not stay in Paris, for we, he and I, would have become too interested in each other. And life does not exist for this, I cannot tell you how much better I think it is for him this way than in the past, he had too many tiresome...

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