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As Father and Mother are sending you a letter, I'm enclosing
a word, but I hope to write you at length soon, that is, after
Mauve has been here; he is expected one of these days at
Prinsenhage and will also come here. You must know, Theo, that
Mauve has sent me a paintbox with paint, brushes, palette,
palette knife, oil, turpentine - in short, everything
necessary. So it is now settled that I shall begin to paint,
and I am glad things have gone so far.
Well, I have been drawing a good deal recently, especially
studies of the figure. If you saw them now, you would see in
what direction I am going. Of course, I am now longing to hear
what Mauve will have to say. The other day I made some drawings
of children, too, and liked it very much.
These are days of great beauty in tone and colour; after I
have made some progress in painting, I will succeed in
expressing a little of it. But we must stick to the point, and
now that I have begun drawing the figure, I will continue it
until I am more advanced; and when I work in the open air, it
is to make studies of trees, viewing the trees like real
figures. I mean especially with a view to the outline, the
proportion and the construction - that is the first thing one
has to consider. Then comes the modelling and the colour and
the surroundings, and it is about these that I need Mauve's
But, Theo, I am so very happy with my paintbox, and I think
my getting it now, after having drawn almost exclusively for at
least a year, better than if I had started with it immediately.
I think you will agree with me in this.
In the long run I do not think you would like it there, at
least it becomes clearer and clearer to me that I never felt in
my element there. Here in Holland I feel much more at home,
yes, I think I shall again become a thorough Dutchman, and
don't you think that's most reasonable, after all? I think I
shall become quite a thorough Dutchman again, in character as
well as in my drawing and painting style. But I think that my
having been abroad for some time and my having seen a few
things there which it is not superfluous to know will prove
useful to me. When you get to London, I wish you would give my
best regards to my old friends, George Read and Richardson.
I met Mr. Obach at The Hague this summer.
George Read is, if you like, a very ordinary man, in that he
is not superior either in business or in knowledge; but if one
knows him somewhat intimately, as a man and a personality,
there is none more faithful, more kind-hearted, more sensitive
than he. He is so humorous and so witty, and so smart in
everyday things, that he is quite a valuable friend in that
respect. If I might choose whom I should most like to see again
of all my acquaintances in England, it would certainly be
George Read. Therefore, if you would do me a favour, you must
be sure to look him up and tell him that I hope we will renew
our former acquaintance, and that I will write to him
But I will do so only after you have seen him and after I
have started painting.
For, Theo, with painting my real career begins. Don't you
think I am right to consider it so?
And now adieu, a handshake in thought, and believe me,
Yours sincerely, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 28 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 22-24 December 1881 in Etten. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 165.
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