van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Anthon van Rappard
The Hague, c. 20 January 1883

Amice Rappard,

The Graphics are now in my possession. I have been looking them over until far into the night.

I don't know whether you are acquainted with the volumes for '70-'75 - perhaps you have them yourself among the lot you bought. But if not, I know you will be delighted with the first years, whenever you find an opportunity to look at them.

I hope with all my heart that you have them among your lot; if not, I shall write about them at greater length, in anticipation of your being able to see them yourself, as there are so many important things among them. And at any rate you must try your utmost to add them to your collection.

For instance, there is a series of drawings of the coal mines by Ridley - done in a way that makes one think of the etchings of Whistler or Seymour Haden. There are similar drawings by Boyd Houghton, mostly about America.

Until now I never knew Boyd H[oughton] was so interesting. There are also sketches of his from the time of the “Commune”: pétroleuses, a barricade, etc.

Herkomer is superb - I have now seen quite a number of large sheets for the first time: “Old Women's Almshouse,” “Old Men's Almshouse,” a “Cobbler,” a “Kegelbahn” [Skittle Alley], “Orphan Men,” “Lodginghouse,” etc.

There are also Pinwells and Fred. Walkers in those first volumes. Also Ch. Green, Buckmann, Brentall, Small, H. Woods, Macbeth, Gregory, all kinds of sketches of the slum districts, etc., Frank Hol's “The Foundling” - superb

By the same, “I am the Resurrection and the life” - superb.

By the same, “Railway Station.”

“ “ “ “Sightseeing.”

These are three sheets I have not seen for ten years.

Once again I must mention Boyd Houghton - a Shaker or Mormon church, incredibly full of character.

Also large du Mauriers, sunny, and clear in the shadows.

Enough. You will understand that there are treasures among them.

I am very eager to get further information about your find. If you have the London News of the period '70-'75, I should very much like to know the most important things in them. I shall certainly get duplicates in consequence of my new purchase.

I am at a loss what to do. These Graphic series are neatly bound and in very good condition. It is almost a pity to pull them apart. But on the other hand, being able to arrange the sheets in such a way that the work of each artist is assembled is also important.

Listen, old fellow - if you have these old volumes of the Graphic among your lot, you know all about them. But if you haven't, then you will get one of the strongest impressions when you come here to see them.

for instance Hol's “The Foundling” and Herkomer's “Old Women”…

But I had a melancholy feeling at the same time when I saw H. Herkomer's words, which you passed on to me some time ago, so clearly confirmed - namely that the later issues of the Graphic, however beautiful occasionally, have fallen off very, very much in general.

But those first ones!

One of the volumes of `70 is missing, but otherwise the whole set `70 - `80 is complete, 21 volumes in all.

But I think I shall find the first volume too.

How are you getting on? Please write either a long or a short letter soon.

And if you should still be feeling weak, and would care to have some volumes of those first years with you, I could send them to you.

There is something stimulating and invigorating like old wine about those striking, powerful, virile drawings.

Adieu, with a handshake,

Ever yours, Vincent

At this time, Vincent was 29 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Anthon van Rappard. Written c. 20 January 1883 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number R23.

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