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 Theo van Gogh
(13 February 1882)
... that I have seen your work.” I do not care so much about that “taking my part,” but I must say that sometimes I cannot bear Tersteeg's saying to me over and over again, “You must begin to think about earning your own living.” I think it is such a dreadful expression, and then it is all I can do to keep calm. I work as hard as I can and do not spare myself, so I deserve my bread, and they ought not to reproach me with not having been able to sell anything up to now. I tell you these details because I do not understand why you have neither written nor sent me anything this month. Is it possible that you have heard something from Tersteeg that has influenced you? I can assure you once more that I work hard to make progress on things which would be easy to sell, that is, watercolours, but I cannot succeed immediately. If I succeed in making them by and by, it would still be rapid progress, considering the short time I have been working....
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 17 September 1883)
... line of trees with a few roofs.[Lost] It is a pity you have not heard anything from C. M. Of course he need not do anything, but I think it rather rude never to send a word in reply. But you must understand one thing - it is increasingly apparent to me that we are living in a time in which things have got rather mixed up (I personally don't think it rather but enormously mixed up, but I won't force that opinion on you). As to C. M., he as well as many others would be very polite to a stranger, but “on ne hait que ses amis.” [One only hates one's friends.] And as he is quite absorbed in the ebb and flow of trade and the art-dealing business, he is so engrossed by very abstract things that a very natural thing, such as, for instance, the fact that I have spoken to him and still do speak to him about my affairs strikes him as disagreeably as an open door that lets in a draught, for his thoughts are far, far away - always - and he knows no...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 22 October 1883)
... course I shall not mention to anybody else. If my affairs might change somewhat for the better, if I could count on C. M.'s buying my studies for instance, then the best thing for me would be to stay here, as it is cheaper here; and after I had made some more progress, and if you decided to become a painter, it would be an excellent place for study here - excellent. Has C. M. been to see you already? Once more, keep good courage, I will try to do the same; and if you ever decide to become a painter, do so with inner cheerfulness and all possible optimism. Then, taking a broad view of things, you would have to consider the time between now and your thirtieth year as a rather hard experimental time; but at the end of it you would find all things renewed, and a rich future before you. Think of what you told me when those Swedish painters were in Paris; one must have pluck, the more so because one sees how shaky and tottering everything is. “Efforts de perdu, que soit”...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 1 February 1884)
... been treated honestly and are paid. I owe a great debt to you, however, and if I continued in exactly the same way, it would grow worse and worse. Now I want to make you a proposal for the future. Let me send you my work, and keep what you like for yourself, but I insist on considering the money I receive from you after March as money I have earned. And I quite approve of it being, in the beginning, less than I have received up to now. Toward the end of January or in the beginning of February I wrote you that, on my coming home, I was struck by the fact that the money I was in the habit of receiving from you was looked upon in the first place as something precarious, and secondly as what I will call charity for a poor fool. And I could establish the fact that this opinion was even communicated to people who had absolutely nothing to do with it - for instance, the respectable natives of this region - and I was asked at least three times in one week by absolute...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 1 March 1884)
... of a weaver and five pen drawings. I must also tell you frankly that for my part I'm sure you're right to say that my work must improve a great deal, but at the same time I also think that your efforts to do something with it could become a bit more determined. You have never yet sold a single thing I have done - whether for a lot or a little - in fact, you haven't even tried. Look, I'm not angry about it, but we need to speak our minds now for once. I could certainly not put up with it in the long run. You, for your part, can also continue to speak frankly. As far as saleability or unsaleability is concerned, that's a dead horse I don't intend to go on flogging. Anyway, as you can see, my answer is to send you some new ones - and I shall be very happy to go on doing so - I should like nothing better. Only be unsparing for once with your candour - which is what I much prefer - about whether you intend to bother with them or whether your...

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