van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Arles, c. 25 February 1888
Relevant paintings:

"Old Woman of Arles," Vincent van Gogh

"Snowy Landscape with Arles in the Background," Vincent van Gogh

"Pork-Butcher's Shop Seen from a Window," Vincent van Gogh

Arles, c. 25th February 1888

My dear Theo,

Thanks for your nice letter, also the 50-franc note.

So far I haven't found life here as cheap as I'd hoped, but still I have three studies done, which probably I would not have been able to do in Paris these days.

I am glad the news from Holland was pretty satisfactory. As for Reid, I am not very surprised - though he is wrong - that he has taken it badly that I got to the Midi before him. It would be rather unfair for us to say on our part that we would never have taken advantage of his acquaintance since (1) he made us the present of a very beautiful painting (a painting which, parenthetically, we meant to get hold of); (2) Reid has made the price of the Monticellis go up, and since we own 5 of them, it follows that these have gone up in value; (3) he was good and pleasant company for the first few months.

For our part we wanted to make a far more important business arrangement with him than the Monticellis, and he pretended not to understand much about it.

It seems to me that if we are to maintain the right to be masters on our own territory where the impressionists are concerned, so that there can be no doubt as to our good faith towards Reid - we might let him do as he likes, without interference from us, with the Monticellis of Marseilles. Insisting that our interest in the dead painters is only indirectly financial.

And if you agree in this, you can, if necessary, tell him from me too that if he intends to come to Marseilles to buy Monticellis, he has nothing to fear from us, but that we have the right to ask what he intends to do, seeing that we have got the start on him on this territory.

As for the impressionists, it seems only right to me that they should be introduced into England through your intermediary, rather than directly by you. And if Reid should get in first, we should be justified in maintaining that he had acted in bad faith towards us, more especially since we gave him a free hand with the Marseilles Monticellis.

You are certainly helping our friend Koning by letting him stay with you - his visit to Rivet must have proved to him that we did not give him bad advice. If you want to take him in, I think that it would be a way out of the difficulty for him, only he must explain everything to his father so that you will not have any even indirect responsibilities.

If you see Bernard, tell him that so far I have had to pay more than at Pont-Aven, but that I think if one got private lodgings here, one could economize; that is what I am trying to find, and as soon as I have verified it, I will write to him what I think the average expenses come to.

And I wish I could make blues like Zeim - they don't fade so much as the others - one day we shall see.

Don't worry, and give a handshake to the comrades from me.

Ever yours, Vincent

The studies I've done are - an old Arlésienne woman, a landscape with snow, a view of a bit of a pavement with a charcuterie [pork-butcher's shop]. The women are quite beautiful here, that is no lie - but on the other hand the museum in Arles is atrocious and a joke, and ought to be in Tarascon. There is also a museum of genuine antiques here.

At this time, Vincent was 34 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 25 February 1888 in Arles. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number 464.

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