van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 48 letters relate to business - selling...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Anthon van Rappard
(c. 1 March 1884)
... But let's stop harping on the subject. I repeat that my idea about my drawings, and the reason I asked you to show them to people if you have a chance, is based on circumstances which are to a great extent not my fault - I am reproached quite often with “not selling anything.” 1 I am asked quite often, “Why do others sell and you don't?” I answer that I certainly hope to sell in the course of time, but that I think I shall be able to influence it most effectively by working steadily on, and that at the present moment making desperate “efforts” to force the work I am doing now upon the public would be pretty useless - and consequently that the problem leaves me rather cold, as I am concentrating on getting on. But all the same, because I am so often reproached with it, and because I am so often hard pressed to make both ends meet, I must not fail to do anything that gives me the slightest chance to sell something. But, I repeat, as a matter...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 11 March 1884)
... it, than 200 francs without that freedom. If we were more of one mind in our way of looking at things, I should think an agreement like the one between you and me up to now by far the best. And because of too great a difference in our ways of looking at things, because of our understanding each other too little, an agreement like the one between you and me is neither tenable nor sensible. Supposing that your character as well as mine wants to avoid disorderliness or outbreaks of violence after all; we must part company quietly and collectedly - but decisively, in such a way that neither you nor I can be reproached with foolishness or recklessness. I should like to receive the usual amount until March. That will enable me to pay everything I have to pay, and to lay up a supply of necessary things. This is the first measure to be taken. Last year, the year '83, was a hard, sad year for me, and the end especially was - bitterly, bitterly sad. Well,...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Anthon van Rappard
(mid March 1884)
... if you place them against that. As for these drawings and art shows, I am not interested in art shows. But what I am interested in is this. I work every day, of course - and not a week passes without my doing some studies like these. I always consider it possible that some day I shall find an art lover who would like to buy them from me - not one or two but fifty for instance. I have heard of more than one painter who was forced to part in this way with his studies (which he most probably would have kept himself if he had been able to), but who on the other hand got some money to tide him over the bad times. And if I ask you to show them to people as the opportunity arises, I repeat, I do this because it is not altogether impossible that you will be able to bring me into contact with such an art lover. If it does not happen, well, then it doesn't; but, inasmuch as my life is getting more difficult instead of easier, it is my bounden duty to look for ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Anthon van Rappard
(2nd half March 1884)
... me better when I do - no. That doesn't alter the fact that, in my view, the reasoning of the artless fellow who asked of your work, “Does he paint for money?” is the reasoning of a bloody idiot, since this intelligent creature evidently considers it axiomatic that originality prevents one from making money with one's work. Trying to pass this off as an axiom, because it can decidedly not be proved as a proposition, is, as I said, a common trick of bloody idiots and idle little Jesuits. Do you really think I don't care about technique or that I don't try for it? Oh, but I do, although only inasmuch as it allows me to say what I want to say (and if I cannot do that yet, or not yet perfectly, I am working hard to improve), but I don't give a damn whether my language matches that of the rhetoricians (you remember making the comparison: if someone had something useful, true and necessary to say but said it in terms that were...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 1 April 1884)
... received your letter and enclosed 250 francs. If I may consider your letter an answer to my proposal, I can indeed agree to what you say. In short, to avoid further discussion or quarreling, in order to have some answer when those leading ordinary lives accuse me of being without any “source of income,” I want to consider the money I receive from you as money I have earned. Of course I will send you my work every month. As you say, that work will be your property then, and I perfectly agree with you that you have every right to do anything with it; even I couldn't make any objection if you should want to tear it to pieces. I, for my part, needing money, am obliged to accept it, even if somebody said to me, “I want to put that drawing of yours away, or I want to throw it in the fire, you can get so much money for it”; under the circumstances I should say, “All right, give me the money, there is my work, I want to get on.” I must...

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