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My dear Theo,
Yesterday I sent you a wire asking you for another 20
francs, I shall have nothing but that for my food all the week,
but I have my frames at last and some stretchers.
Only don't let the next letter come later than Sunday, for
it is a close, very close siege these days. But we will hold
out, and I feel quite calm amid all the commotions we are
At the very moment I was writing these words, I received
notice of the arrival of Tasset's canvas. Great!
The walnut frames go well with the studies. And I think that
the next batch will be decisive, and that as for selling, we
are getting very hot.
Let's be sensible, and not forget for a minute that not only
for our own sake but also for the success of this studio, we
must get back the money spent during the unproductive years. We
shall if we keep calm; besides, it is our due and we have
suffered enough for it.
At the moment, however, I am able to concentrate. And as for
the new things - ah, these are costing us dear, and we must not
be too easy-going in selling them, they must bring what they
Let's hope that we shall not be too much on the rocks. With
patience it won't be too difficult for us to do as Mauve and
Mesdag did, who were able to wait and force the price up a
little, and still got sold. We are sparing nothing to get a
certain richness in colour. And I believe that the thought of
gaining something as much for the comrades as for ourselves
will give us confidence. And even if we have no fixed plan in
business, everything we do will be based on our deep conviction
of the injustice which the artists we know are now suffering
under, and on the desire to change all this as much as we can.
With that conviction we can work on calmly and with a will, and
after all we have nothing to fear from anyone.
I am working on a portrait of Mother,
because the black-and-white photograph annoys me so. Ah, what
portraits could be made from nature with photography and
painting! I always hope that we are still to have a great
revolution in portraiture.
I am writing home for Father's portrait also. I do not want
to have black photographs, but I do want to have a portrait.
That of Mother, a size 8 canvas, will be ashen grey, against a
green background, the dress carmine.
I do not know if it will be like her, but anyhow I want to
give the impression of a blonde colouring. You will see it one
day, and if you like, I will make one for you too. It will
again be in very thick impasto.
Well, my dear Theo, about your next letter, let me have it
on Sunday. It will be all right, I venture to think, for we are
getting very near selling and the stuff I am getting ready now
will put us in the way of making some show when the exhibition
is on. It will be a year of hard work, but we shall have good
times afterward, and even in the meantime I am doing a brothel
study from memory for Bernard. Did you see that drawing of mine
which I put in with Bernard's drawings, representing the house?
You can get some idea of the colour. I have a size 30 canvas
after that drawing.
With a handshake, and many thanks for the canvas; now for
the attack, once again. I stick to this, that when these
decorations that I am working on are finished, they ought to be
worth ten thousand; whether it is easy for me to do or not,
that is my fixed and steady aim; we have spent money and we
must get it back.
Ever yours, Vincent
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 9 October 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 548.
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