My dear Theo,
Thank you for your letter and the 50-franc note enclosed. As
for the Tanguy business, don't get mixed up in it. Only I beg
you not to risk entrusting him with the new pictures, but
withdraw them in answer to his presenting an account and asking
for an advance.
Believe me, you have the Tanguy woman to deal with,
and if not, and if he himself is behaving like this, then he
is playing me false. Tanguy still has a study of mine which
he himself expected to sell. At the most I owe him that,
but I do not owe him a penny in money. To begin to argue about
it would mean an argument with the old woman, which no mortal
could stand. According to them (the Tanguys), Guillaumin, Monet
and Gauguin must all owe them money - is that true or not?
Anyway, if they do not pay, why should I pay? I am sorry I
thought of getting paints from him again to please him. He can
be sure that in the future I shall get no more. In dealing with
the old woman, who is poisonous, it's deeds you want, not
words. Do, I beg you, get back my new pictures. That is enough.
Tanguy's zinc white at 40 centimes is just a little more
expensive than Tasset's big tubes at 1.50 fr., which hold four
times as much. Leave Tanguy the study he has of
Asnières, a bank of the Seine - strictly speaking, it
belongs to him, but kick him out afterward, and without
If you give them something on account, it would be
acknowledging a debt that I make bold to deny. Never, so do
not let yourself be caught. The only money I really
owe is to Bing, in that I still have 90 francs' worth of
Japanese stuff on commission. But when you think of how many
people I have sent straight to Bing's, it is more profitable to
him to let that go, and even if I were still on the spot to
occupy myself with it, I'd rather increase the stock so as to
be able to do more business with it.
And the real reason why I do not ask Bing for commission is
that in case of any claim, I could bring it up. This is to let
you know that any other claims are probably invalid. I am
concentrating on making my pictures have some market value. You
know that I have only one means of arriving at this end - and
that is, by painting them. But I tell myself that if I can
manage to do 50 studies at 200 francs this year, in a way I
shall not have been very dishonest in having eaten and drunk as
though I had a right to it.
Now this is pretty steep, because though I have at the
moment about thirty painted studies, I do not value them all at
that price. All the same, some of them must be worth it. But
the cost of executing them leaves me very, very poor for all
that; I should not harp on it if people like friend (?) Tanguy
did not come along to ask for a settlement of a debt that is
infinitely doubtful. Whatever money you might have to spare for
that purpose, my Lord, I am in greater need of it here.
I stint myself in many things, not that I think that a
hardship, but I think that the money which I shall need in the
future depends rather on the vigour of my efforts now.
They made trouble at the post office, saying that the
drawings which I was sending you were too big to be forwarded
that way. I have two new big ones. When there are six of them I
will send them in a roll by rail. I argue that if the studies
have difficulty drying here in the heat, it would be a good
deal harder for them to dry at your place, and so I delay
sending them off.
I have scraped off a big painted study, an olive garden,
with a figure of Christ in blue and orange, and an angel in
yellow. Red earth, hills green and blue, olive trees with
violet and carmine trunks, and green-grey and blue foliage. A
citron-yellow sky. I scraped it off because I tell myself that
I must not do figures of that importance without models.
Certainly it would be better to my way of thinking if
Gauguin came here, with the winter coming on. Still no answer
from Russell. Bock is staying with McKnight, and it seems that
he is working very hard, but I have seen nothing yet. He is a
young man whose appearance I like very much, a face like a
razor blade, green eyes, and a touch of distinction. McKnight
looks very common beside him.
After what you told me about him, I am going to see him this
I have exactly the same thing to tell you today as last
Thursday, the end of the week will be very rough going. If you
can send your next letter a day or two earlier, so much the
Have you been able to find that book of A. Cassagne's, the A
B C D of Drawing? I really do need it.
Mourier certainly ought to buy one for himself. I'll write
Russell again, though I think it would be better to wait for
his reply. But anyway, I'll write this evening, and that is the
real reason why I am going to see his friends McKnight and
Bock, so as to be able to talk about them and have an excuse
for writing him before he replies.
If the four other drawings that I have in mind are like the
first two I have done, then you will have an epitome of a very
beautiful corner of Provence. It was very nice of Guillaumin to
come to look, I am very much obliged to him, but on the whole I
myself am dissatisfied with everything I do.
Why move about much? When I see the orchards again, shan't I
be in a better condition, and won't it be something new, a
renewed attack on a new season, on the same subject. And the
same for the whole year, for harvesttime, and the vineyards,
I would like to send you the 30 studies now, in case this
might make it easier to find the money for Gauguin's
Well done, Schoeffenecker! And old Thomas really ought to
buy 100 francs' worth from me or from Gauguin, and then we'd
almost have it. What is Bing's exhibition like?
If you see their manager there, tell him that I am here, and
that I ask them to leave my deposit alone, and that if I were
there, I should exert myself more for him. The Lautrecs have
just come, I think they are beautiful. Good-by for the present.
I'll write again soon, but don't get into a panic over the
Tanguy woman, for there's no justice in it, and it annoys me to
find old Tanguy behaving like this. You may be sure that if I
owed him the money, I'd say so, but it was on different terms,
that is to say that I never pay in cash, but that he has a lien
on the pictures, and even that only by agreement.
Ever yours, Vincent
You can count on it that Bernard will have the same problem
with the Tanguys, only worse.
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 8 July 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 505.
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