van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Arles, c. 3 August 1888
Relevant paintings:

"Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin," Vincent van Gogh

"Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin," Vincent van Gogh

My dear Theo,

I more or less presume that you have gone to Holland. I am rather inclined to think that they were expecting you in Holland, from the letter I received from our sister, and also because I have not heard from you about this business.

I have had a letter from Gauguin, in which he talks about painting, and complains of not having enough money to come here, but nothing new or different.

I have sent Russell 12 drawings after painted studies, and so had an opportunity to speak to him about it again.

It will soon be Michaelmas, and I have only taken the house till then. Am I to take it for a half-year again or not, that is what I would very much like to decide, after G. had seen it, and not without him.

I could not pay my rent on the first, as I had the model all week. I am working on two portraits of the same model, which are more important to me than anything else. But it was just when I put my fellow off till next Monday for the month's rent that he said something about being able to find another tenant for the house if I had not decided to keep it. I'm not much surprised, since I have had it repaired myself, and it is worth more.

So now I am working on two figures, one the head, and one a half length with the hands of an old postman in a dark blue uniform. He has a head like Socrates, interesting to paint.

There is no better or shorter way of improving your work than doing figures. And I always feel confident when I am doing portraits, knowing that this work has much more depth - it isn't the right word perhaps, but it is what makes me cultivate whatever is best and deepest in me.

Good-by for the present, and a good handshake.

Ever yours, Vincent

At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 3 August 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 517.

This letter may be freely used, in accordance with the terms of this site.
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