van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Anthon van Rappard
The Hague, 22-29 October 1883

Amice Rappard,

I just received your letter, and it is exactly what I meant. Now I am somewhat informed about things, and as the opportunity occurs I can try to find something to complete your collection.

In the first place, That Beautiful Wretch - I do not have it; it is certainly very beautiful, and I am most eager to have it, if possible. I shall send you the Holiday No.82, in which there are also very fine illustrations by Caton Woodville, Knowles, etc., today or tomorrow, and the following sheets besides:

Lecolle “At the Riverside”

Knaus “Schweinchen” [Little Pigs]

Small “In the Park,” “Spectators at a Cricket Match”

Frank Hol “Home Again”

Robinson “The Rescue”

Rochussen “In the Dunes,”

Robertson “Christmas on the Wave”

Edelfelt “Chez l'artiste” [Artist's Home]

“A Merry Christmas”

Renouf “Un Coup de Main” [A Helping Hand]

"Portrait of Washington." Excellent.

Emslie “Nearing Home”

Overend “Hopes and Fears.”

Vierge “Exhibition of Electricity”

Morris “The Mowers”

Kaufmann “Maison d'ecole de Wissenbourg” [Schoolhouse at Wissenburg]

Koch “Verbrecherspelunke” [Criminals' Den] "Ruderregatta" [Rowing Match]

Heywood Hardy “The Village Doctor” “Christmas Hymn”

Meyerheim “Affenakademi” [Monkeys' Academy]

Overend “Dans la Serre” [In the Green-house]

You happen to have two or three Frank Hols that I don't have, but how beautiful the one of the two fellows in the wagon is, and so is that other one, and “Bereaved” too. I know them very well.

I think the one I am sending you completes the series “Summoned for Active Service,” as it is called “Home Again.” I haven't got those sheets by Hopkins that you have, but I have others (“Fancy Ball” and “Charity”).

I am particularly interested in Buckmann's “Vor dem Asylhause” [In Front of the Night Shelter] - is this one from a current magazine? Please let me know; then I shall order it. I don't know what this one is like, but I know his work and think it splendid - I presume his conception of this subject will be unusually beautiful. I don't know Herkomer's “Schwierigkeiten” [Difficulties], nor do I know Overend's “Gottesdienst” [Divine Service] and “North Pole,” nor the things by Main, Régamey and Boulanger on the last list you sent me. If the “Boat Race” whose artist you don't know has a part of a boat with a lady in black, a lady in white and a dog in the foreground, then it is by no less a man than Paul Renouard.

I also have a magnificent thing by Dagnan for you, “Un Charmeur au Jardin des Tuileries,” and one by Montbard, “Arab Beggars.” These two had some tears which I have repaired, after which I mounted them; they are both very large, so I will not send them now, for the package would get too big if I sent them flat, and they can no longer be folded. You can take them with you whenever you come here, the way you did last summer.

But maybe you have them already, since they are French; in that case I shall keep them. They are undamaged now and especially beautiful. Let me know if you don't have them; then I shall set them apart for you. I have been thinking over your scruples about accepting the ones I sent you; and, although I respect your feelings, I believe you must not consider it a kindness on my part but look upon it as something natural - for the following reason.

I hope you do not object to my considering you my friend, and I suppose that you on your part think of me in the same way. I feel sure you will agree with me when I say that I think friendship must be primarily action and not just feeling. Consequently it was only natural for me to save duplicates for you of things you didn't have yet. You yourself did me a similar favour in Brussels, for instance, by letting me use your studio when I didn't have one of my own yet, and so on.

You write that you have seven “Months” by Montbard; if I knew which ones they were, I might be able to complete them. I see that I have two more beautiful Standards, which I shall add to the lot, as well as a Dollmann.

I should have to see the monogram FD, or whatever it is before I could decipher it, which I would do by studying the manner in which it is done. I should not be surprised if it were F. Dadd. I have also not been able to decipher the monogram under “The Arrival of the Coach”; I have found another sketch from Scotland, however, on which it occurs too - “Salmon Fishers.”

Caton Woodville is enormously clever - I see it more and more clearly. I have a number of large things by him from Ireland; except for “Nightly Visit,” which you have too, they form a series together with other sheets by O'Kelly, Gregory and Dadd.

Well, today I went to visit the place where the dustmen dump the garbage, etc. Lord, how beautiful that is - for Buckmann, for instance. Tomorrow I shall get some interesting objects from this Refuse Dump - including some broken street lamps - rusted and twisted - on view - or to pose for me, if you like the expression better. The dustman will bring them around. That collection of discarded buckets, baskets, kettles, soldiers' mess kettles, oil cans, iron wire, street lamps, stovepipes was something out of a fairy tale by Andersen.

I shall probably dream of it tonight, but you may be sure I shall work on it this winter. Whenever you come to The Hague, I shall be greatly pleased if you will allow me to take you to this and some other spots, which, though they are commonplace in the extreme, are really an artist's paradise.

And now a drawing has been waiting for me for quite a while; I must now return to it without delay. So you will receive some more sheets one of these days. And if you should have duplicates, you know I should very much like to have them.

Adieu - may your work prosper - don't you think the weather glorious these days - a real “chill October”? How beautiful the mud is, and the withering grass!

With a handshake in thought,

Ever yours, Vincent

You would find a great many things changed in my studio since this summer - it is more spacious and convenient, and I hope my work will not be any the worse for it.

Three guilders fifty is perhaps not exorbitant for a volume of the London News, provided it is an interesting old one, with a lot of things in it, but it all depends on the contents, of course.

Do you remember the établissements de bouillon [soup kitchens] in Brussels? One of Roger's was opened that winter near the Hôtel de ville [city hall]; and I saw “bouillon” being given away gratis to poor people the morning of the opening. I suddenly remembered it the other day, and this is the drawing I am working on at present. I have had models here from the Geest, a street which I think greatly resembles the Rue Haute or the Rue Blaes in the Walloon Quarter of Brussels, for instance. And what I am seeking is most certainly the right types, but above all the sentiment of the whole. Such a bouillon-gratuit establishment may be in Brussels or London or The Hague; its character is sure to be something like that of Buckmann's “Vor dem Asylhause.” The figure I made a little scratch of in my previous letter is one of the models for it.

What is Wyllie: “Funeral of the Late Napoleon”?

[The text after the signature is rather odd, chronologically speaking. While the date of the body of the letter can be safely attributed to October 1882, the facts in the second part are more fitted to February - March 1883. The text starting “Do you remember...” is on a separate sheet of paper, and it impossible to tell if it belongs to a different letter. The “figure I made a little scratch of” could be the sketch enclosed in letter R 14, Orphan Man seen from Behind, JH 214]

At this time, Vincent was 30 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Anthon van Rappard. Written 22-29 October 1883 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number R28.

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