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Perhaps you have been expecting a word from me to hear what
I am doing these days. And I for my part have been looking for
a word from you.
I still go to Mauve's every day - in the daytime to paint,
in the evening to draw.
I have now painted five studies and two watercolours and, of
course, a few more sketches.
I cannot tell you how kind and friendly Mauve and Jet are to
me these days. And Mauve has shown and told me things which of
course I cannot do at once, but which I shall gradually put
into practice. But I must work very hard, and when I return to
Etten I shall have to make a few changes; among other things, I
must try to rent a large room somewhere so that I can have
sufficient distance - otherwise it is impossible to draw the
figure, except for studying certain segments.
I am consulting Mauve about this question and I will soon
write you about it again.
The painted studies are still life,
the watercolours are made after the model, a
Scheveningen girl .
[A sketch of a Scheveningen Girl drawn here.]
Perhaps Mauve will write you himself some time soon.
But, Theo, now it is almost a month since I came here, and
you must understand I have had a great many expenses. It is
true that Mauve has given me several things, paint, etc., but I
had to buy a great deal myself, and I have also paid the model
for a few days.
When I wrote Father this week for money, he thought it so
very excessive that I had spent 90 guilders. But you will
understand, I think, that this is not unreasonable, for
everything is so expensive. But I hate to have to account to
Father for every cent I spend, the more so because it is told
to everybody, not without enlargements and exaggerations.
So I must say, Theo, that just now I am rather hard up here.
And I am writing to tell you so. I have no money to stay, I
have no money to go back. I shall wait here for a few days at
all events. And I will do as you wish.
Do you think it better for me to stay here a little longer?
I should be very glad to, and I would not go back until I had
made some progress.
If you want me to go back at once, I will, but I must find a
good room somewhere, somewhat larger than the little studio at
home; then I can get along alone for some time, and go back to
The Hague after a while.
At all events, Theo, through Mauve I have got some insight
into the mysteries of the palette and of watercolouring. And
that will repay me for the 90 guilders the trip has cost. Mauve
says that the sun is rising for me, but is still behind the
clouds. Well, I have nothing to say against that.
Sometime I will tell you more about how kind and considerate
Mauve has been to me.
So I shall wait a few more days for your answer. But if it
does not come within three or four days, I shall ask Father for
money to go back at once.
I have several things to tell, which will possibly interest
you, about the manner of drawing after the model at Etten; but
as I said before, I will write you about it again soon.
Enclosed I send you little sketches after the two watercolours.
I confidently hope that I shall be able to make something
saleable in a relatively short time. Yes, I even think that
these two would be saleable in case of need. Especially the
one which Mauve has brushed a little. But I would rather keep
them myself for a time in order to remember better some things
about the way in which they were done.
What a splendid thing watercolour is to express atmosphere
and distance, so that the figure is surrounded by air and can
breathe in it, as it were. Now would you like me to make
another set of watercolours for you here? I ask no better, but
lodgings here, and the models and the paint and paper, etc.,
etc. - everything costs money, and I have nothing left. So at
all events send me word by return mail, and if you wish me to
stay, send me some money if possible.
I think I shall make better progress now that I have learned
something practical about colour and the use of the brush.
And you can imagine that I hope Mauve will never have cause
to regret his kindness. We will try to push ahead with some
force. Well, adieu. At all events I count on your writing by
return mail (address A. Mauve, Uilenboomen 198). Believe me,
with a handshake in thought,
Yours sincerely, Vincent
These are the subjects of two painted studies: a terra cotta
of a child's head with a fur cap; and a white cabbage with
potatoes, etc., around it .
[Two enclosed sketches: Scheveningen Girl facing Left
and Scheveningen Girl facing Right.]
At this time, Vincent was 28 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 18 December 1881 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 163.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.