van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Arles, 10 March 1888
Relevant paintings:

"Still Life with French Novels and a Rose," Vincent van Gogh

My dear Theo,

Thank you for your letter and the 100-Fr. note enclosed. I very much hope that you are right in thinking Tersteeg will come to Paris shortly. It's very much to be desired with things in the state you say they are in - everyone on the rocks and hard up. I was very much interested in what you write on the Lançon sale, and about the painter's mistress. He did some work of very great character; his drawing often reminded me very much of Mauve. I am sorry I did not see the exhibition of his studies and very sorry not to have seen the Willette exhibition as well.
What do you think of the news that Kaiser Wilhelm is dead? Will this precipitate events in France, and is Paris going to remain quiet? It's doubtful; and what will the effect of all this be on the trade in paintings? I read that there seems to be some question of abolishing the import duties on paintings into America; is this true?

I have two more studies of landscapes. I hope that the work will go on steadily now, and that in a month I shall be able to send you a first consignment. I say in a month, because I want to send you only the best, and because I want them to be dry, and because I want to send at least a dozen at a time, owing to the expense of carriage.
I congratulate you on purchasing the Seurat; with what I will be sending you, you must try to arrange another exchange with Seurat as well.
You realize that if Tersteeg joins you in this business, between you two you could easily persuade Boussod Valadon to grant a regular credit for the necessary purchases. But it is urgent, since failing that, the dealers will cut the ground from under your feet.
I have made the acquaintance of a Danish artist [Mourier Peterson] who talks about Heyerdahl and other Northerners, Kroyer, etc. His work is dry, but very conscientious, and he is still young. Some time ago he saw the exhibition of the impressionists in the Rue Lafitte. He is probably going to Paris for the Salon, and wants to make a tour in Holland to see the museums.
I quite approve of your exhibiting the “Livres” with the Independents; its title ought to be “Romans Parisiens.”
I should be so glad to hear that you had managed to persuade Tersteeg - but we must be patient.
I had to get 50 francs worth of stuff when your letter arrived.This week I shall set four or five things going.
I am daily thinking about this association of artists, and the plan has developed further in my mind; but Tersteeg must be in it, a lot depends on that. As a matter of fact, the artists would have Tersteeg's help. Without that we should be left listening from morning till night to the lamentations of them all as a whole, and each man in particular would be everlastingly coming to ask for explanations, axioms and so forth. I should not be surprised if Tersteeg's view will be that we cannot do without the artists of the Grand Boulevard, and that he will try to persuade them to take the initiative towards our association by giving paintings which would become common property, no longer individual. If they were to make the proposal, the Petit Boulevard, in my opinion, would be morally obliged to join.
And these gentlemen of the Grand Boulevard will keep their present reputation only if they can forestall the not unfounded criticisms of the lesser impressionists, who will say, “Everything goes into your pockets.”
To which they might well make reply, “Not at all, on the contrary, we are the first to say that our pictures belong to the artists!” If de Gas, Monet, Renoir and Pissarro were to say that, even allowing plenty of margin for their individual ideas when it comes to putting it into practice, they could do worse, if only by saying nothing at all and letting things slide.

Ever yours, Vincent

At this time, Vincent was 34 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 10 March 1888 in Arles. Translated by Robert Harrison, edited by Robert Harrison, number 468.

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