van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Arles, c. 11 April 1888
Relevant paintings:

"The White Orchard," Vincent van Gogh

"Langlois Bridge at Arles," Vincent van Gogh

"Langlois Bridge at Arles with Women Washing," Vincent van Gogh

My dear Theo,

I am so glad to have them. And the weather today has been fine. This morning I worked on an orchard of plum trees in bloom; all at once a fierce wind sprang up, an effect I had seen nowhere else but here, and returned at intervals. The sun shone in between, and all the little white flowers sparkled.

It was so lovely. My friend the Dane came to join me, and I went on painting at the risk and peril of seeing the whole show on the ground at any moment - it's a white effect with a good deal of yellow in it, and blue and lilac, the sky white and blue. But as to the execution of what one paints outside like this, what will people say? Well, we shall see.

Then after dinner I set to work on the same picture that Tersteeg is to have (the “Pont de l'Anglais”) for you. And I have a good mind to make a replica of the one for Jet Mauve as well, for I spend so much, we must never lose sight of the need to get back the money that flies so fast.

I was sorry afterward not to have asked old Tanguy for the paints all the same, not that there would be the least advantage in doing so - on the contrary - but he's such a funny old soul, and I still think of him many a time. Don't forget to say hello for me if you see him, and tell him that if he wants pictures for his window, he can have some from here, and the best at that.

But just because it's what people have in their hearts that matters, and it is at the heart of all business dealings too, we must make friendships in Holland, or rather revive them. More especially since, as far as the Impressionists cause is concerned, there is little fear now that we shall not win.

And because of the victory already almost assured, we must have good manners, and do everything quietly.

I would have greatly liked to see Marat's “Incarnation” which you spoke of the other day; it would certainly interest me a lot. Instinctively I think of Marat as the equivalent --in character (only more powerful) of Xantippe - the woman of a soured love. She remains a touching figure all the same - but I admit, not so gay as the Tellier household in Guy de Maupassant.

Has de Lautrec finished his picture of the woman leaning on her elbows on a little table in a café?

If I can manage to learn to work our studies from nature on a fresh canvas, we should profit by it, as far as a likelihood of selling is concerned. I hope to manage it here, and that's why I'm experimenting with the two pictures which are to go to Holland, so that you will have them too, and then it won't be unbusinesslike.

You were right to tell Tasset that he must put in the geranium lake all the same; he has sent it, I have just checked it. All the colours that the Impressionists have brought into fashion are unstable, so there is all the more reason not to be afraid to lay them on too crudely - time will tone them down only too much.

. They are only to be found in Delacroix, who had a passion for the two colours which are most condemned, and with most reason, citron-yellow and Prussian blue. All the same, I think he did superb things with them - the blues and the citron-yellows.

A handshake for you and Koning, and once again thank you very much for the paints.

Ever yours, Vincent

At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 11 April 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 476.

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