van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
The Hague, 24 March 1882
Relevant paintings:

"Road in Scheveningen," Vincent van Gogh

"Sand Diggers in the Dunes," Vincent van Gogh

"Houses near Schenkweg," Vincent van Gogh

"Ditch along Schenkweg," Vincent van Gogh

"Factory," Vincent van Gogh

"Gas tanks," Vincent van Gogh

"Van Stolkgarden," Vincent van Gogh

"Backyards," Vincent van Gogh

"Bridge near Herengracht," Vincent van Gogh

"Nursery & Vincent's house on Schenkweg," Vincent van Gogh

Letter 183
The Hague, 24 March 1882


I have been working very hard lately, and am busy from morning till night.I continue to make such little views of the city almost every day, and have the knack now.

I wish Tersteeg or others who pretend to be friendly or to want to help me would ask for things that I can make, instead of asking for impossible things which discourage instead of encourage me. Enfin, que soit. But I had expected C.M. to pay me at once. The drawings were certainly no worse than the specimen which he saw, and I had trouble enough making them, perhaps more than 30 guilders' worth. If people understood that nothing is nothing, and that days without a penny in my pocket are very hard and difficult, I think they would not begrudge me the little money I get from you which keeps me afloat in these hard times, not unnerve me by reproaches for taking it from you.

Don't I deserve my bread if I work hard? Or am I not worthy of the means which enable me to work? I only wish, brother, that you would come here soon and see for yourself whether I'm cheating you or not.

Blommers spoke to me about showing a collection of wood engravings after Herkomer, Frank Holl, du Maurier, etc., some evening at Pulchri. I should like very much to do so. I have enough of them for at least two evenings.

Well, I'm getting on all right and feel that I am making progress. I must go on drawing for a year or at least a few months more until my hand has become quite firm, and my eye steady; and then I don't see any obstacle to my becoming quite productive in things that will sell. It is only reasonable for me to want these few months' time. I cannot go quicker than that, for I should produce bad work, and that isn't necessary: with a little patience my work can be good.

Can you send me some money soon? I hope so. You know I sent the 10 guilders back to Tersteeg.

I wish you would become a painter; you can if you want to, and you wouldn't lose by it—you would only become something better than if you remained an art dealer, even if you were the best of all art dealers. But you'll have to plunge into it with all your strength to bring out the best that's in you.

I haven't sent you any little sketches recently, I'm waiting until you come to see them for yourself—that's better. I am busy drawing some figures and also a few landscapes, for instance a nursery here on Schenkweg.

I should like to know since when they can force or try to force an artist to change either his technique or his point of view. I think it very impertinent to attempt such a thing, especially for a man like Tersteeg, who pretends to stand on “good form.” Theo, if you can send me some money, do, the sooner you send it, the sooner I shall be relieved of the worry.

Well—I have to work anyhow—adieu, write soon,

Yours sincerely, Vincent

[The drawings Vincent refers to were: F920, JH 113; F 922, JH 114; F 917, JH 115; F 921, JH 116; F 925, JH 117; F 924, JH 118; F 922a, JH 119; F 939a, JH 120; F 1679, JH 121 and F 915, JH 122.]

At this time, Vincent was 28 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 24 March 1882 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 183.

This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.
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