van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Arles, c. 22 October 1888
Relevant paintings:

"Public Park at Arles," Vincent van Gogh

My dear Theo,

I have done another size 30 canvas, “An Autumn Garden,” with two cypresses, bottle green, shaped like bottles, and three little chestnut trees with tobacco and orange-coloured leaves. And a little yew tree with pale citron foliage and a violet trunk, and two little bushes, blood-red and scarlet purple leaves.

And some sand, some grass, and some blue sky.

And yet I had sworn to myself that I would not work. But it is like that every day, just accidentally I sometimes come upon things so lovely that I have to try to do them after all.

Well, the money which you are giving me, and which I keep on asking for more than ever, I will pay back to you in work, and not only for the present but for the past as well. But let me work as long as it is not absolutely impossible.

For it would be so much worse if I did not take advantage of the opportunities.

Well, if we combined, Gauguin and I also ought to be good for a nominal capital of 10,000 each.

Once more that squares exactly with what I was telling you, that I was determined to do 10,000 francs' worth of paintings for the house. It is odd that though I do not calculate with figures but with what I feel, I so often come to the same results, after starting from absolutely divergent points of view. I do not dare to think, I do not dare to say anything more of this Seurat combination. First I must try to get to know Gauguin better. When we have him, we can't lose anyhow.

Listen to me again. As soon as you can, at once even if it's possible, I need 10 more meters of canvas at 2.50 fr.

Then big tubes like the flake white and the zinc white.

Zinc white 20 of the biggest tubes

Flake white 10 “ “

Chrome yellow 1. 10 “ “

“ “2. 5 “ “

Prussian blue 5 “ “

Geranium lake 10 medium tubes

Malachite green 10 of the biggest tubes

But I must say that I should be absolutely astonished if we could not first overcome the existing difficulties of production, no matter what.

If there's a hitch, we shall have to take counsel as soon as Gauguin comes, which I am hoping for from one day to the next.

I think that it may make a nice stir at the exhibition in '89. It might be more convenient if it didn't make a hit, but anyway we must really take things as they come. By the way, have you ever read Les Frères Zemganno, by the de Goncourt brothers? If not, read it. I might be more daring perhaps if I had not read it, and even after reading it my only fear is of asking you for too much money. If I come to grief myself in the attempt, it would do me no harm. In that case I have still some resource, for I should either go into business or I should write. But as long as I am painting, I see nothing for it but the association of several fellows and a life in common.

The leaves have begun to fall, you can see the trees turning yellow, and the yellow increasing every day. It is at least as beautiful as the orchards in bloom, and as for the work we are doing, I venture to think that far from losing on it, we shall make a profit. So much for that.

In any case please send by return mail, and certainly not later, some more money (50 if possible), or else less. And if you haven't time to write, please send it by money order, either more or less, depending on what you can spare.

A good handshake,

Ever yours, Vincent

At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 22 October 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 551.

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