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. 11 August 1883)
... life could be to preserve my health, I meant that there are circumstances when one has to choose between one's work and having nothing to eat, or between eating and dropping one's work (namely, when the work brings expenses and for the moment yields no profit). In some cases I prefer the former, and do not think I am wrong, for our work remains, but we do not, and the main thing is to create; I would rather have a few years of that than years of brooding over it and putting it off. And I said to Rappard then that for my part I thought there was truth in the mysterious saying, “whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose his life for the Gospel's sake shall find it.” Adieu, boy, I hope to see you soon. With a handshake, Yours sincerely, Vincent ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 15 December 1885)
... c. 15 December 1885 Dear Theo, Today for the first time I feel rather faint - I had painted a picture of “Het Steen” and went to show it to some dealers. Oh dear. Do try to keep me afloat these two weeks, for I want to paint some more figures. This morning I heard it said that some of those pictures I wrote you about had been sold privately - there was a rumour of 21,000 fr. I don't know if it is true, but at all events there was a crowd of spectators when I was there, and the exhibition for the raffle was also crowded. If there were more better things on view,...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 19 December 1885)
... one might have to earn something. But whatever and wherever I may want to start, of course I must have things to show. Because I need all my good spirits, all my vitality, I must confess I am afraid of feeling physically weak. I showed my view of “Het Steen” to another dealer, who liked its tone and colour, but he was too engrossed in making up his inventory, and besides, he has little room, but he asked me to come back after New Year's. It is just the thing for foreigners who want to have a souvenir of Antwerp, and for that reason I shall make even more city views of that kind. So yesterday I made a few drawings of a spot with a view of the Cathedral. I also made a little one of the Park. But I prefer painting people's eyes to cathedrals, for there is something in the eyes that is not in the cathedral, however solemn and imposing the latter may be - a human soul, be it that of a poor beggar or of a streetwalker, is more interesting ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(28 December 1885)
... the only way to ensure real progress. I've discovered that my appetite has been held in check a bit too long and when I received your money I couldn't stomach any food. But I shall certainly do my best to remedy that. it doesn't take away from the fact that I have all my wits and energy about me when I'm painting. But when I'm out of doors, work in the open air is too much for me and I come over all weak. Well, painting is something that wears one out. However, Van der Loo [the van Gogh's doctor in Brabant] said, when I consulted him shortly before I came here, that I am reasonably strong après tout. That I needn't despair of reaching the requisite age to produce a complete body of work. I told him that I knew several painters who, for all their nervousness, etc., had reached the age of 60, or even 70, fortunately for themselves, and that I should like to do the same. I also believe that if one aims for serenity, and retains one's zest for...
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....

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