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Letter T 1
Paris, 19 October 1888
My dear Vincent,
It was really a rather serious omission on my part to have
talked to you about De Haan and Isaäcson without
mentioning what they have done up to now. 1
Above all I wanted to give you an idea of the kind of
fellows they are. I have not seen the large picture; but,
judging from a photograph taken of a preliminary sketch, I
think it cannot be at all bad. The subject is Uriel Acoste
2 before a Tribunal; it was a judicial crime in
Jewish history. The composition is nothing like Rembrandt, as
the light is not concentrated in one part of the picture, but
for all that spread effectively all over it. Since the costumes
belong to that epoch it has been said that it is a bad
imitation of Rembrandt. It is certain that he was influenced by
the latter, but notwithstanding this there is quite a personal
quality in the work of his which I have seen to be found in the
way he spreads his light all over his picture or drawing. The
things I have seen were mainly charcoal drawings, their other
work having been left behind in Holland. I am sending you two
photographs of drawings, so that you will be able to judge for
yourself; the photographs have turned out rather badly, for the
drawings are a bit dim.
They look upon Breitner as one of the most vigorous of the
modern Dutchmen; I don't think they place him above J. Maris,
but they certainly do place him above Israëls. I believe
that if you knew them, you would share my opinion that there is
no reason to distrust them. I haven't seen anything of
Isaäcson's yet except his sketches, which are very well
done and highly original. He is waiting for drawings which are
to be sent back from London. Seurat isn't back in town yet, and
I don't know what he's doing. He is very vigorous, that fellow,
and I quite agree with you that his frames calculated to suit
the picture are worth more than all kinds of expensive
A short while ago I read Tartarin of Tarascon, which I think
fine, and his Nabob, which I like much less. I am also going to
read the other Tartarin. They don't have Madame
Chrysanthème in the library, but someone promised to let
me have it, so that I may read it. I am quite eager to know it.
It is very annoying that you have been having trouble with your
eyes. What can be the cause of that?
I'll stop now, for otherwise, the letter will not go off
Cordially yours, Theo
See Vincent's letter 555.
Uriel Acosta, originally Gabriel da Costa (c.
1591-1641), a Dutch Jew of Spanish origin, a philosopher
and free-thinker, excommunicated and declared a heretic by
a Rabbinical Court at Venice in 1624, and excommunicated by
the Portuguese-Jewish Community of Amsterdam in 1623 and
again in 1633. He committed suicide.
At this time, Vincent was 35 year old
Theo van Gogh. Letter to Vincent van Gogh. Written 19 October 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number T1.
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