van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
London, January 1874

My dear Theo,

Many thanks for your letter. My warm good wishes for a very happy New Year. I know you are doing well at The Hague, because Mr. Tersteeg told me so. I can see from your letter that you are taking a keen interest in art, and that's a good thing, old fellow. I'm glad you like Millet, Jacque, Schreyer, Lambinet, Frans Hals, etc., for as Mauve says, “That's it.” That painting by Millet, L'angélus du soir, “that's it,” indeed - that's magnificent, that's poetry. How I wish I could have another talk with you about art; but we'll just have to keep writing to each other about it. Admire as much as you can; most people don't admire enough.

Here are the names of a few the painters I particularly like. Scheffer, Delaroche, Hébert, Hamon, Leys, Tissot, Lagye, Boughton, Millais, Thijs [Matthijs] Mans, De Groux, De Braekeleer, Jr., Millet, Jules Breton, Feyen-Perrin, Eugène Feyen, Brion, Jundt, George Saal, Israëls, Anker, Knaus, Vautier, Jourdan, Jalabert, Antigna, Compte-Calix, Rochussen, Meissonier, Zamacois, Madrazo, Ziem, Boudin, Gérôme, Fromentin, de Tournemine, Pasini, Decamps, Bonington, Diaz, Th. Rousseau, Troyon, Dupré, Paul Huet, Corot, Jacque, Otto Weber, Daubigny, Wahlberg, Bernier, Émile Breton, Chenu, César de Cock, Mile. Collart, Bodmer, Koekkoek, Schelfhout, Weissenbruch, and last [but] not least, Maris and Mauve.

But I could carry on like that for I don't know how long, and then there are still all the old masters, and I am sure I have forgotten some of the best of the modern ones.

Do go on doing a lot of walking and keep up your love of nature, for that is the right way to understand art better and better. Painters understand nature and love her and teach us to see.

And then there are painters who never do anything that is no good, who cannot do anything bad, just as there are ordinary people who can do nothing but good.

and then I've got nature and art and poetry, and if that isn't enough, what is? But I haven't forgotten Holland and especially not The Hague and Brabant.

We are busy at the office doing stocktaking, but it will all be over in 5 days, we got off more lightly than you did in The Hague.

I hope that, like me, you had a happy Christmas.

And so, my boy, best wishes and write to me soon, Je t'écris un peu au hasard ce qui me vient dans ma plume [I have written to you in this manner just as it came into my pen], I hope you'll be able to make something of it.

Goodbye, regards to everybody at work and to anybody else who asks after me, especially everybody at Aunt Fie's and at the Haanebeeks'.


I am enclosing a few lines for Mr. Roos.

At this time, Vincent was 20 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written January 1874 in London. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 013.

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