van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Paris, Summer 1887

My dear friend,

Enclosed is a letter which arrived yesterday, but which the concierge didn't give me straight away.
I've been to the Tambourin, since if I hadn't gone, they would have thought I was afraid.
And I told la Segatori that I wouldn't pass judgement on her in this matter, but that it was for her to judge herself.
That I had torn up the receipt for the pictures - but that she had to return everything.
That if she had not had a hand in what had happened to me, she would have seen me the next day.
That as she didn't come to see me, my feeling was that she knew they were trying to pick a quarrel with me, but that she had tried to warn me by saying, “Go away,” which I hadn't understood, and furthermore, perhaps didn't want to understand.
To which she replied that the pictures, & all the rest, were at my disposal. She maintained that it was I who had tried to pick a quarrel - which doesn't surprise me - knowing that if she sided with me they would take it out on her. I also saw the waiter when I went in, but he made himself scarce. I didn't want to take the pictures immediately, but I said that when you returned we would discuss the matter because these pictures belong to you as much as to me, and in the meantime I advised her to think about what had happened again. She didn't look well and was white as a sheet, which isn't a good sign. She didn't know that the waiter had gone up to your place. If that's true, I would be more inclined to believe she had tried to warn me they were trying to pick a quarrel with me than that she had plotted the whole thing herself. She cannot do as she likes. I'm awaiting your return now before taking any action.
I've done two pictures since you left. Have only got two louis left and I'm afraid I don't know how I'm going to manage from now until your return.
Don't forget that when I started working at Asnières I had plenty of canvases and Tanguy was very good to me. In fact he still is, but his old witch of a wife realized what was going on and complained. So I gave Tanguy's wife a piece of my mind and told her that it was her fault if I didn't buy anything more from them. Old man Tanguy is sensible enough to keep quiet, and will do whatever I want anyway. But with all this, work isn't easy.
I saw Lautrec today, he's sold a picture, through Portier I think. A watercolour of Mme. Mesdag's has arrived which I find very beautiful. 1
Now I hope you'll enjoy your trip over there, remember me to my mother, to Cor & to Wil. And if you could manage, by sending me something again, to ensure that I don't have too hard a time from now until you get back, then I shall try to do some more pictures for you - as I'm really very happy as far as my work goes. What worried me a little about this business was that it looked a little cowardly not going there, to the Tambourin. And my peace of mind has been restored by my going there.

I shake your hand,


1. Probably “Grapes and Pears.”

At this time, Vincent was 34 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written Summer 1887 in Paris. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number 461.

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