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My hearty thanks for your letter, and the 200 francs
enclosed. Thanks for giving the size of the frame, in which I
intend to make a little woman spinning, after the large
I was glad to hear some good news about Breitner. The last
impressions I had of him were, as you know, rather
unfavourable, because of three large canvases which I saw at
his studio, and in which I literally did not distinguish
anything that might be located either in reality or in an
imaginary world. But a few watercolours which he then had on
hand, horses in the dunes, though very sketchy, were much
better. And I saw things in it which make me understand quite
well that the picture of which you speak must be good. As to
the Society of Draughtsmen, firstly, I quite forgot it because
I was busy painting those figures; secondly, now that your
letter reminds me of it, I am not very keen on it, for, as I
told you already last summer, I can only expect a refusal of my
petition for membership, which refusal one can, however,
consider as a kind of necessary evil that can be redressed next
year and as such the request perhaps has its raison
Besides, as I quite forgot it, I have not one watercolour on
hand, and should have to start new ones in a hurry, if it were
not already too late for this year.
And when I tell you that I am just now quite absorbed again
in two new large studies of interiors of weavers, you will
understand I am in no mood for it. Especially as it might cause
new disagreements if I applied again to the gentlemen at The
As to these two treatments of weavers, one shows a part of
the loom, with the figure and a small window.
The other is an interior, with three small windows, looking
out on the yellowish verdure, contrasting with the blue of the
cloth that is being woven on the loom, and the blouse of the
weaver, which is again of another blue.
But what struck me most in nature of late I have not started
on yet, for want of a good model. The half-ripe cornfields are
at present of a dark golden tone, ruddy or gold bronze. This is
raised to a maximum of effect by opposition to the broken
cobalt tone of the sky.
Imagine in such a background women's figures, very rough,
very energetic, with sun-bronzed faces and arms and feet, with
dusty, coarse indigo clothes and a black bonnet in the form of
a barrette on their short-cut hair; while on the way to their
work they pass between the corn along a dusty path of ruddy
violet, with some green weeds, carrying hoes on their
shoulders, or a loaf of black bread under the arm - a pitcher
or brass coffee kettle. I have seen that same subject
repeatedly of late, with all kinds of variations. And I assure
you that it was really impressive.
Very rich, and at the same time very sober, delicately
artistic. And I am quite absorbed in it.
But my colour bill has run up so high that I must be wary of
starting new things in a big size, the more so because it will
cost me much in models; if I could only get suitable models,
just of the type I want (rough, flat faces with low foreheads
and thick lips, not sharp, but full and Millet-like) and with
those very same clothes.
For it demands great exactness, and one is not at liberty to
deviate from the colours of the costume, as the effect lies in
the analogy of the broken indigo tone with the broken cobalt
tone, intensified by the secret elements of orange in the
reddish bronze of the corn.
It would be a thing that gave a good impression of summer. I
think summer is not easy to express; generally, at least often,
a summer effect is either impossible or ugly, at least I think
so, but then, as opposition, there is the twilight.
But I mean to say that it is not easy to find a summer sun
effect which is as rich and as simple, and as pleasant to look
at as the characteristic effects of the other seasons.
Spring is tender, green young corn and pink apple
Autumn is the contrast of the yellow leaves against violet
Winter is the snow with black silhouettes.
But now, if summer is the opposition of blues against an
element of orange, in the gold bronze of the corn, one could
paint a picture which expressed the mood of the seasons in each
of the contrasts of the complementary colours (red and green,
blue and orange, yellow and violet, white and black.
Mother is making but little progress in walking. Goodbye,
and once more thanks for your letter and the enclosed. Believe
The best thing I know - for the frame - is to take a few
stretchers of that size, then we can see which turns out
At this time, Vincent was 31 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written early July 1884 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 372.
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