Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh (2 November 1883) ... finale of the
symphony I heard yesterday. The
day passed like a dream, I had
been so immersed in that heart-rending music all day that I had
literally forgotten to eat and drink - I had had a slice of
black bread and a cup of coffee in the little inn where I had
drawn the spinning wheel. The day was over and from dawn till
dusk, or rather from one night till the next, I had lost myself
in that symphony. I came home and as I sat by the fire it
occurred to me that I felt hungry, no, I realized I was
But now you can see what it is like here. One feels just as
if one were at, say, an exhibition des cent chef-d'œvres.
What does one bring back from such a day? Merely a number of
rough sketches. Yet there is something else one brings back - a
quiet delight in one's work.
Be sure to write soon. It is Friday today, but your letter
has not yet arrived, I'm waiting for it eagerly. It takes time
to get it [the money] changed, too, because it has to go back
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh (9 August 1888) ... at any rate, and also a little in
reality. I am happier to feel my old strength returning than I
ever thought I could be. I owe this largely to the people at
the restaurant where I have my meals at the moment, who really
are extraordinary. Certainly I have to pay for it, but it is
something you don't find in Paris, really getting something to
eat for your money. And I should very much like to see Gauguin
here for a good long time.
What Gruby says about doing without women and eating well is
true, for if your very brain and marrow are going into your
work, it is pretty sensible not to exhaust yourself more than
you must in love-making. But it is easier to put into practice
in the country than in Paris.
The desire for women that you catch in Paris, isn't it
rather the effect of that very enervation which Gruby is the
sworn enemy of than a sign of vigour? So you feel this desire
disappearing at the very moment you are yourself again. The
root of the evil lies in the constitution...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Emile Bernard (c. 28 September 1888) ... of a
lack of strengthening food.
It is hardly possible to fortify one's body over there; far
be it from me to say that when one is going into a hot climate
one ought to fatten oneself up first, but what I do say is that
one should attend to one's nourishment some time in advance;
and I abide by this through thick and thin, as this regimen
agrees with me so well here, because there is some difference
between the heat of Africa and the heat of Arles.
You will either come out of this trial of your service much
stronger, strong enough for a whole artistic career - or a
However that may be, I should be enormously delighted if you
came here, and if Gauguin came too; and then the only thing to
be regretted will be that it is winter and not the season of
fine weather. I am coming to believe more and more
that the cuisine has something to do with our ability to think and to
make pictures; as for me, when my stomach bothers...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh (8 October 1888) ... me the louis and the canvas.
I have been so hard up since Thursday that from
Thursday to Monday I only had two meals; apart from
those I had only bread and coffee and even that I had to drink
on credit, and had to pay for today. So if you can, do not
delay a minute.