Letters from the Van Gogh Family to Theo van Gogh (1874) ...
Mrs.van Gogh to Theo
[…] Don't you think it very sad that Vincent does not write to us, during such important days? Oh, Theo, you don't
know how it distresses us and how we long to go to him and say,
“Boy, how is it? Isn't it true we can't live without each
other and love each other too dearly to be estranged from each
other and not open our hearts?”
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh (15 August 1888) ... as an artist, should I
lose that as a man? If I had the faith to do it, I'd be a
notable madman; now I am an insignificant one, but you see I am
not sufficiently ambitious for that fame to set a match to the
powder. I would rather wait for the next generation, which will
do in portraiture what Claude Monet does in landscape, the
rich, daring landscape à la Guy de Maupassant.
But then I know that I am not - not their equal - but didn't
the Flauberts and Balzacs make the Zolas and Maupassants? So
here's to - not us, but to the generation to come. You are a
good enough judge of painting to see and understand what I may
have of originality, and also to see the uselessness of
presenting what I am doing to the modern public, because the
others surpass me in clearness of touch. That is more the fault
of wind and circumstances, compared to what I could do without
the mistral and without the fatal conditions of vanished youth
and comparative poverty. For my part I am in no way set...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh (c. 21 October 1888) ... don't stop painting for
a few days. As a matter of fact, I am again pretty nearly
reduced to the madness of Hugo van der Goes in Emil Wauter's
And if it were not that I have almost a double nature,like
that of a monk and that of a painter,I should have - and that long ago -
been reduced completely and utterly to the aforesaid condition.
Yet even then I do not think that my madness would take the
form of persecution mania, since when in a state of excitement
my feelings lead me rather to the contemplation of eternity,
and eternal life.
But all the same I must beware of my nerves, etc.
Only I tell you this because you are mistaken in thinking
that I have any mistrust of these two Dutch painters in any
way. But it was really only after your second letter that I
could form any idea of what they are doing, and I am very
curious to see the photographs of their drawings.
I should like to write you a letter expressly for them to
read, to explain once...
Letter from Joseph Roulin to Theo van Gogh (26 December 1888) ...
I have been to see your brother Vincent. I promised to tell
you what I thought of him. I am sorry to tell you that I think
he is lost. Not only is his mind affected, but also he is very
weak and despondent. He recognized me but did not show any
pleasure at seeing me and didn't ask about any member of my
family nor anyone else that he knows. When I left him I told
him that I would come back to see him; he replied that we would
meet again in heaven, and from his manner I understand that he
was saying a prayer. From what the porter told me, I think that
they are taking the necessary steps to have him placed in a
Please accept, Monsieur, the greetings of him who calls
himself the friend of your beloved brother.
Entrepeneur des Postes
Rue de la Montagne du Cordes, 10
Arles sur Rhone
My family sends their greetings to M. Paul Gauguin.
Letter from Joseph Roulin to Theo van Gogh (28 December 1888) ... Friday, I went there but could not see him. The intern
and the attendant told me that after my wife left, he had had a
terrible attack; he had a very bad night, and they had to put
him in an isolated room. Since he has been locked in this room,
he has eaten no food and utterly refused to talk. That is the
exact state of your brother at present.
The intern has told me that the doctor has for a few days
postponed the decision to have him placed in a mental hospital
Please, Monsieur, accept my sincere greetings.