van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Andreis Bonger to His Parents
Paris, 1886

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[Extracts from letters written by A. Bonger in Paris to his parents in Amsterdam.]

March 17th 1886

Some days ago De Meester 1 paid Van Gogh a visit. We were not mistaken; he was the man who nearly went into hysterics when he had to pass the Ambassador…V. G. let him speak freely; I think there is no better way to form an opinion of a man whom one has never met than by letting him talk…

Did I write you that Van Gogh's brother, who is studying to be a painter, has arrived here? The consequences will be that we shall not see much of V. G. in the future, for they are having their meals together in their neighbourhood. His mother and sisters are leaving Nuenen for Breda shortly.

June 23rd 1886

Did I tell you that Van Gogh has moved to Montmartre? They now have a big, spacious apartment (by Parisian standards) and their own household. They are now keeping their own cook in optima forma. Theo is still looking frightfully ill; he literally has no face left at all. That poor fellow has many cares. Moreover, his brother is making life rather a burden to him, and reproaches him with all kinds of things of which he is quite innocent. For a long time he has had no news of his sister Lize.


It now appears that Theo's brother has come to stay; for the next three years at least he is going to work in the painter Cormon's studio. I think I told you last summer what a queer life this brother has led. The man hasn't the slightest notion of social conditions. He is always quarreling with everybody. Consequently Theo has a lot of trouble getting along with him.

August 27th 1886

My patients (during Theo's absence Vincent van Gogh was taken ill too) prevented me from writing you. Otherwise I should have sought an earlier opportunity to thank you for the cordiality with which you received Theo. He is quite elated with his stay with you. Thursday morning he came back. It gives me a lot of pleasure too that you like him. The better one gets to know him, the more one learns to appreciate the refinement of his mind. His company is always entertaining. During his absence I slept in his apartment, for Vincent was alone…

It is settled that in the future I am going to have my dinners at Van Gogh's. It is true that it takes a lot of time, for he is living in Montmartre, and consequently the evenings will be quite lost, but it is more pleasant for both of us. We always have subjects enough o discuss, the three of us.

February 18th 1887

Van Gogh too stands in great need of being renovated. He continues to look sick and emaciated, and he is feeling weak. If he were not such a desperately pig-headed fellow, he would have gone and consulted Gruby long ago.

  1. The Dutch novelist and art critic, see Letter 94a.

At this time, Vincent was 33 year old
Andreis Bonger. Letter to His Parents. Written 1886 in Paris. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number htm.

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