My dear Theo,
You gave me great pleasure by sending those Millets. I am
working at them zealously. Because I haven't been seeing
anything artistic, I was getting slack, and this has revived
me. I have finished the “Veillée” and am working
on the “Diggers” and the “Man Putting on
His Jacket,” size 30 canvases, and the “Sower,”
smaller. The “Veillée” is in a colour scheme of
violets and tender lilacs with the light of the lamp pale
lemon, then the orange glow of the fire and the man in red
ochre. You will see it; it seems to me that painting from these
drawings of Millet's is much more translating them into
another tongue than copying them.
Besides that, I have a rain effect going and an evening effect with
some big pines. And also one of the falling leaves.
Also in my work my ideas are becoming - it seems to me -
more stable. But then I do not quite know if you will like what
I am doing now. For in spite of what you said in your last
letter, that the search for style often harms other qualities,
the fact is that I feel strongly inclined to seek style, if you
like, but by that I mean a more virile, deliberate drawing. I
can't help it if that makes me more like Bernard or Gauguin.
But I am inclined to think that in the end you will come to
For, yes, you must feel the whole of a country - isn't that
what distinguishes a Cézanne from anything else?
And Guillaumin whom you cite, he has so much style and such a
personal manner of drawing.
Anyhow, I will do the best I can. Now that most of the
leaves have fallen, the countryside is more like the North, and
then I realize that if I returned to the North, I should see it
more clearly than before.
I hope to go to Arles one of these days.
I should so much like Jo to see the
“Veillée.” I think I shall send you a
package in a little while, but it is drying very badly because
of the dampness of the studio. Here there is hardly any cellar
or foundation to the houses, and you feel the damp more than in
Those at home will have moved by now. I will add six
canvases for them to the next package. Is it necessary to have
them framed? - perhaps not, because they are not worth it.
Above all do not get the studies that I send from time to time
framed, we can do that later on, it's no use their taking up
too much room.
I have also done a canvas for M. Peyron; a view of the house
with a big pine.
I hope you and Jo continue well.
I am glad that you are not alone any more and that
everything is more normal than it used to be.
Is Gauguin back, and what is Bernard doing?
Good-by for now. A good handshake for you and Jo and our
friends, and believe rue,
however I beg you to believe that in
landscape I am going on trying to mass things by means of a
drawing style which tries to express the interlocking of the
masses. Do you happen to remember that landscape by Delacroix -
“Jacob Struggling with the Angel”? And there are
others of his! For instance, the cliffs and those very flowers
of which you sometimes speak. Bernard has really done some
perfect things in this respect. Well, don't cultivate a
prejudice against it too quickly.
Anyhow, you will see that in a big landscape with some
pines, trunks of red ochre defined by a black stroke, there is
already more character than in the previous ones.
At this time, Vincent was 36 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 2 November 1889 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 613.
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