van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 3 letters relate to fear - shyness...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(24 September 1880)
... thought to the outside, but there you are, I could not see the inside because I dared not introduce myself and go in. Elsewhere in Courrières I looked for traces of Jules Breton or any other artist. All I was able to find was a portrait of him at a photographer's and a copy of Titian's Entombment in a corner of the old church which looked very beautiful to me in the darkness and masterly in tone. Was it by him? I don't know because I was unable to make out any signature. But of any living artist, no trace, just a cafe called Cafe des Beaux Arts, also of new, inhospitable, stone-cold, repulsive brick - the café was decorated with a kind of fresco or mural depicting episodes from the life of that illustrious knight, Don Quixote. To tell the truth, those frescoes seemed to me rather poor consolation, and fairly mediocre at the time. I don't know who did them. But anyway I did seen the country around Courrières then, the haystacks, the brown farmland...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(17 August 1883)
... the end of it, and no more about it. And now I will tell you once more what I think about selling my work. My opinion is that the best thing would be to work on till art lovers feel drawn towards it of their own accord, instead of having to praise or explain it. At all events, when they refuse it or do not like it, one must bear it calmly and with as much dignity as possible. I'm so afraid that the steps I might take to introduce myself would do more harm than good, and I wish I could avoid it. It is practically always so painful for me to speak to other people. I am not afraid of it, but I know I make an unfavorable impression. The chance of changing this is sometimes destroyed by the fact that one's work would suffer if one lived differently. And by sticking to one's work, things will come out right in the end. For instance, take Mesdag, a real mastodon or hippopotamus, but he sells his pictures. I am not that far yet, but the man I mention also began late and...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(12 October 1883)
... Well, let bygones be bygones. It has not been so. I spoke once or twice to Thijs Maris. I dared not speak to Boughton because his presence overawed me; but I did not find it there either, that help with the very first things, the A B C. Let me repeat now that I believe in you as an artist, and that you may become so still, yes, that in a very short time you would think over in all calmness whether you are an artist or not, whether you succeed in producing something or not, if you learned to spell the above-mentioned A B C and if at the same time you wandered through the cornfields and the moors, to renew what you yourself express as “I used to feel myself part of nature; now I do not feel that way any longer.” Let me tell you, brother, that I myself experienced so deeply, so very deeply what you say there. That I have been through a period of nervous, arid overstraining - there were days when I could not see anything in the most beautiful landscape just...

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