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My dear Theo,
Thank you for your letter and the 100-franc note it contained. I
have sent you sketches of the paintings destined for
Holland. Of course the painted studies are more brilliant in
colour. I'm once again hard at it, still orchards in
I have another orchard, as good as the pink peach trees,
apricot trees of a very pale pink. At the moment I am working
on some plum trees, yellowish-white, with thousands of black
branches. I am using a tremendous lot of
colours and canvases, but all the same I hope it isn't a waste
Out of 4 canvases, perhaps one at the most will
make a painting, like the one for Tersteeg or Mauve; but
the studies, I hope, will come in useful for exchanges.
When can I send you anything? I have a great mind to do a
second version like Tersteeg's, because it is better than the
Yesterday I saw another bull fight, where 5 men worked
the bull with darts and cockades. One toreador crushed a
ball in jumping the barricade. He was a blonde man with grey
eyes and lots of sang-froid; people said he'll be ill long
enough. He was dressed in sky blue and gold, just like the
little horseman in our Monticelli, the 3 figures in a wood.
The arenas are a fine sight when there's sunshine and a
Bravo for Pissarro, I think he is right. I hope he will make
an exchange with us one day.
And the same for Seurat. It would be a good thing to have a
painted study of his.
Well, I'm working hard, hoping that we can do something with
things of this kind.
This month will be a hard time for both you and me, but if
you can manage it, it will be to our advantage to make the most
we can of the orchards in bloom. I am well started now, and I
think I must have ten more, the same subject. You know I am
changeable in my work, and this craze for painting orchards
will not last for ever. After this it may be the arenas. Then I
must do a tremendous lot of drawing, because I want to
make some drawings in the manner of Japanese prints. There is
nothing like striking while the iron is hot.
I shall be all in when the orchards are over, for they are
size 25 and 30 and 20 canvases. We should not have too many of
them, even if I could knock off twice as many. It seems to me
that this may really break the ice in Holland. Mauve's death
was a terrible blow to me. You will see that the pink peach
trees were painted with a certain passion.
I must also have a starry night with cypresses, or perhaps
above all, a field of ripe corn; there are some wonderful
nights here. I am in a continual fever of work.
I'm very curious to know what the result will be at the end
of a year.
If there should happen to be a month or a fortnight when you
were hard pressed, let me know and I will set to work on some
drawings, which will cost us less. I mean, you must not put
yourself out unnecessarily, there is so much to do here, all
sorts of studies, not the way it is in Paris, where you can't
sit down wherever you want.
If you can finance a rather heavy month, so much the better,
since orchards in bloom are the kind of thing one has some
chance of selling or exchanging.
But it occurred to me that you have to pay your rent, so you
must tell me if things are too steep.
I am still going about with the Danish painter all the time,
but he is going home soon. He's an intelligent boy, and all
right as far as fidelity and manners go, but his painting is
still rather spineless. You will probably see him when he
passes through Paris.
You did well to go to see Bernard. If he goes to serve in
Algiers, who knows but that I might go there too to keep him
Is it really over at last, this winter in Paris? I think
what Kahn said is very true, that I have not sufficiently
considered values, but they'll be saying very different things
in a little while - and no less true.
It isn't possible to get values and colour.
Th. Rousseau did it better than anyone else, and with the
mixing of his colours, the darkening caused by time has
increased and his pictures are now unrecognizable.
You can't be at the pole and the equator at the same
You must choose your own line, as I hope to do, and it will
probably be colour. Good-bye for the present. A handshake to
you, Koning and the comrades.
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 9 April 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 474.
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