van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 20 letters relate to food-and-drink - malnutrition...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 12-16 January 1886)
... sending me at least another 50 fr. At present I am losing weight, and moreover my clothes are getting too shabby, etc. You know yourself that it isn't right as it is. Yet I feel sort of confident that we shall pull through. But you wrote that if I fell ill, we should be worse off. I hope it will not come to that, but I should like to have a little more ease, just to prevent illness. Just think how many people there are who exist without ever having the slightest idea what care is, and who always keep on thinking that everything will turn out for the best, as if there were no people starving or completely ruined! I begin to object more and more to your pretending to be a financier, and thinking me exactly the opposite. All people are not alike, and if one does not understand that in drawing up accounts some time must have passed over the account before one can be sure to have counted right, if one does not understand this, one is no calculator....
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 3 February 1886)
... that I am literally worn out and overworked. Just think, I went to live in my own studio (in Nuenen) on May 1 and I have not had a hot dinner more than perhaps six or seven times since. I do not want you to tell Mother that I am not well, for good reasons, for perhaps she would begin to worry, thinking that it was not kind to let things happen as they did, namely - that I did not stay at home to avoid these very consequences. I will not mention it, so don't you, either. But I have lived then, and I do here, without any money for a dinner, because the work costs me too much, and I have relied too much on my being strong enough to stand it. What the doctor tells me is that I absolutely must take better care of myself and until I feel stronger I must take more rest. It is an absolute breakdown. Now I have made it worse by smoking a great deal, which I did the more because then one does not feel an empty stomach so much....
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(1st half February 1886)
... it wouldn't be any different. Now, at this moment, I am feeling terribly weak, even worse than that, from reaction after overwork, but that is the natural course of things and nothing extraordinary; but as it is a question of taking better nourishment, etc., you see in Brabant I shall again spend my last penny on models; it will be the same story all over again, and I do not think that will be right. In that way we stray from our path. So please allow me to come sooner, I should almost say at once. If I rent a garret in Paris, and bring my paintbox and drawing materials with me, then I can finish what is most pressing at once - those studies from the ancients, which certainly will help me a great deal when I go to Cormon's. I can go and draw either at the Louvre or at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. For the rest, before settling in a new place, we could plan and arrange things so much better. If it must be, I am willing to go to Nuenen for the month of March,...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(15-17 February 1886)
... like, and go on working here till I leave? I tell you, I am in such a wretched condition that, if there is any money to spare, let me look after my health then, and let the rest go, for at home they can manage just as well with a hired man, even better perhaps. If I do not take some nourishing food I am sure to get sick. It would not be my fault, and indeed I should not care much, let come what may. If I go to Brabant, I have the expenses of my journey, I must also pay for my room there, which I have given up, and must find another place to store my things, which would be no less than 50 francs rent, and another 50 francs in advance for a new storage place and for moving. I should also be obliged to pay an outstanding colour bill, and of course I should begin to paint there again. Now I thought that through force majeure, I am free to declare myself unable to fulfill those obligations for the moment, i.e. not to pay my rent there, but say, “Put...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(19 or 20 February 1886)
... to profit from working at Cormon's. Then my health, I do not eat when I'm working outdoors, and I cannot get well. For I frequently relapse; my health is far from being what it ought to be. Now as to the expenses, I believe it will be pretty much the same. So just think it over again - we must act, for we must put our shoulders to the wheel. All the time I have been here, I have had a comrade, an old Frenchman, and I have painted his portrait, which Verlat approved of, and which you will see. The winter was even worse for him than for me, and the poor devil is much worse off than I am because his age makes it very critical.

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