van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Anthon van Rappard
Nuenen, 2nd half September 1884

Nuenen, 2nd half September 1884

Amice Rappard,

I wrote you today and your letter from Terschelling crossed mine.

I am greatly pleased to hear that you are going to bring back rather a lot of things from your trip, and from what you say about your studies I am confident that you will bring along useful things. I still regret that I have not seen that picture “Fish Market,” even in its first stage. 1

Well, I'm damned sorry I didn't see the picture itself in its first stage.

All the same I did not lose sight of the fact - as you suppose - that it is you who are making the picture, not I - but I base my argument on something you will hardly deny, namely that you are making a PICTURE.

And a picture - whoever the artist may be - you or anyone else - should express preferably one thing only and that quite clearly.

Speaking of Van der Weele, I remember saying to him about the picture which he got a medal for in Amsterdam - and this contrary to the opinion of others - that I greatly appreciated his having succeeded so well in preserving the unity of STYLE despite all the different things that appeared in it, and that it really and truly was a picture, i.e. something quite different from a realistic study from nature.

But - after all - I know nothing of your original concept, except from that hasty little sketch, and I don't doubt in the least that there will be praiseworthy things in it. But all the same I stick to what I said, and I want to point out again that I am afraid that your foreground, for instance, cannot carry all the things standing in it - it will either become paint or else unfixed and woolly - what is called mou. This very summer the same thing happened to me with a weaver's interior that I could not go on with because the whole thing came too much to the forefront - because the picture began with what ought to have been the second plane - the first plane, the solid foundation, was missing. And I reproached myself in the same way that I am now speaking to you.

It is something that happens very often to nearly all painters, and it may happen that it can be remedied only by transferring the whole to a larger canvas.

By the way, do you know “Ordered off” by Frank Hol in the London News? I brought it back from Utrecht together with a “Shepherd” by Thompson.

Good-by. I hope you will come in October; if possible, write in advance the exact date when you are coming.

With a handshake,

Ever yours, Vincent

1. See letter 369 to Theo.

At this time, Vincent was 31 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Anthon van Rappard. Written 2nd half September 1884 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number R46.

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