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"Sien's mother's house," Vincent van Gogh
"Backyards," Vincent van Gogh
Today, Saturday, I had a visit from Rappard, and I am glad
he has been here. He asked after you many times. Among other
things he saw the drawings I am doing for C. M., and they
seemed to please him, especially a large one of the court or
yard where Sien's mother lives. I wish you
could see that one too, as well as another of a carpenter's
shop and yard where little figures are busy. It
is a great deal more complicated as to the perspective than the
“Laan van Meerdervoort” I sent you, and it has
given me trouble enough. You should know that at present I am
working out-of-doors as early as four o'clock in the morning -
in the daytime it is too difficult to work in the street
because of the passers-by and the street urchins; this is also
the finest moment to see the main outlines, when everything is
But, brother, it has been a hard fortnight for me. When I
wrote you about the middle of May, I had only 3 or 3.50
guilders left after I had paid the baker; and I have had hardly
anything to eat but dry black bread with some coffee, and Sien
too. Because we had bought some things for the baby and she had
been to Leyden, etc.
Now I have to pay the house rent on the first of June, and I
have nothing, literally nothing. I hope you will send
But, brother, do write to me soon and deliver me from the
landlord, for you know he won't be put off.
Rappard's visit has cheered me up; he seems to work very
I have received 2.50 guilders from him because he saw a tear
in one of the drawings and said, You must have that
That's true, I said, but I haven't the money, and the
drawing must be sent off.
Then he readily said that he would be pleased to give me it;
he would have given even more, but I wouldn't take it, and gave
him a whole lot of wood engravings and a drawing in exchange.
It was one for C. M., and as it was the best of them all, the
money to have it repaired was very welcome. That same drawing
will perhaps be sold afterward for 50 guilders or so, and I
didn't have the money to have a tear in it repaired.
Well, I do hope, brother, that you do not think evil of Sien
and me; she has learned to put up with my disagreeable side,
and in many ways she understands me better than others. She is
so willing to help me in everything - I can't tell you how
useful she is to me. If I go into a rage once in a while either
about the posing or something else, she knows how to take it,
and has seen that it soon passes. Similarly, when I worry or
grumble about something that does not succeed, she often knows
how to quiet me, and that is something I am not able to do for
And she is very thrifty, and contents herself with a piece
of black bread without getting disheartened. And I do the same,
if only we can make both ends meet.
I hope you have received the drawings I sent I think about
May 10. There were twenty-five of them in a portfolio; I have
not heard from you about them.
I do wish there were a few other people for whom I could do
something on the same conditions as C. M.'s. And especially
that C. M. continues to order, for these drawings are much
better than the first, and by and by I shall do them even
better. And at that price he certainly isn't getting a bad
You know how it is: if you do not forsake me because of
Sien, then I shall be full of courage. And at four in the
morning I am already at my work, so I shall get through with a
little sympathy from those who know me. I am longing for your
letter, a handshake in thought, but do write soon and deliver
me from the landlord.
Yours sincerely, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 29 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 27 May 1882 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 202.
This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.