van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Nuenen, late October 1884
Relevant paintings:

"Avenue of Poplars in Autumn," Vincent van Gogh

Dear Theo,

Enclosed you will find a few smaller photos of the studies which you already have larger ones of.

I am sending them so that you may have something to show of my work if the opportunity arises.

Rappard is still here, and will stay another week, as he is up to his ears in his work.

He is painting spinners and several studies of heads; he has already made about 10 studies, all of which I like.

We have been talking a good deal about impressionism. I think that you would include his work under that heading. But here in Holland it is rather difficult to find out what impressionism really means. But both he and I are very interested in the present-day trends. And it is a fact that unexpected, new conceptions are beginning to arise. That pictures are being painted in quite a different tone than some years ago.

The last thing I made is a rather large study of an avenue of poplars, with yellow autumn leaves, the sun casting, here and there, sparkling spots on the fallen leaves on the ground, alternating with the long shadows of the stems. At the end of the road is a small cottage, and over it all the blue sky through the autumn leaves.

I think that in a year, if I again spend that year painting much and constantly, my method of painting and my colour will change a great deal, and that I shall become darker rather than lighter.

Rappard's work has also changed to a much lower gamut. The effect of the heads he paints at present remind one of certain studies of heads by Courbet, for instance. But it is damned well done, I can assure you.

As a result of things I talked over with him, it may be that I shall stay here and work on here rather than go elsewhere. His visit has given me new ideas for my own work again, and there are so many things in my mind which I should like to make that, after all, I can hardly put off starting work on them. Besides, I want to settle my bills for colours before New Year's Day, and I can't afford any extra expenses.

For if I went to Antwerp, of course I should want to work hard there, and should need models, which I am afraid would be too expensive at the moment.

But in general Rappard too advises me to do it, not right away, but after having painted here for a few more months, then to get a pied-à-terre there to paint some studies from the nude. But, if I paint some thirty studies of heads here first I shall be able to get more out of Antwerp, and I am starting on those thirty heads now, or rather I have already done so by painting a large bust of a shepherd.

Rappard did the same this summer in Drenthe and in Terschelling, and it has greatly helped him.

I just saw a reproduction after Lhermitte's “Le Cabaret,” two workmen and a woman, do you know it?

Recently Rappard and I have made long excursions, and visited house after house; we have seen the most beautiful things, just because of the splendid autumn effects. And we have discovered new models.

Perhaps some more painters will come to this neighbourhood next year. I should be glad of it, for one must not go on without seeing any other painters for too long a time. Well - as to that - I am sure to get some new acquaintances ere long. Best regards, also from Rappard.

Ever yours, Vincent

At this time, Vincent was 31 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written late October 1884 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 383.

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