van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Saint-Rémy, 11 or 12 May 1890
Relevant paintings:

"Still Life: Vase with Roses," Vincent van Gogh

"Still Life: Vase with Irises," Vincent van Gogh

"Still Life: Vase with Irises against a Yellow Background," Vincent van Gogh

My dear brother,

Many thanks for your registered letter, containing 150 fr. - which arrived this morning. for if I had not had my work, I should long ago have been even more broken. At present all goes well, the whole horrible attack has disappeared like a thunderstorm and I am working to give a last stroke of the brush here with a calm and steady enthusiasm. I am doing a canvas of roses with a light green back-ground and two canvases representing big bunches of violet irises, one lot against a pink background in which the effect is soft and harmonious because of the combination of greens, pinks, violets. On the other hand, the other violet bunch (ranging from carmine to pure Prussian blue) stands out against a startling citron background, with other yellow tones in the vase and the stand on which it rests, so it is an effect of tremendously disparate complementaries, which strengthen each other by their juxtaposition.

These canvases will take a whole month to dry, but the attendant here will undertake to send them off after my departure.

I intend to leave this week as soon as possible, and I am starting to pack today.

I'll send you a wire from Tarascon. Yes, I also feel that there is a very long stretch of time between the day we said goodbye at the station and now.

But another strange thing, just as we were so struck by Seurat's canvases on that day, these last days here are like a fresh revelation of colour to me. As for my work, my dear brother, I feel more confidence than when I left, and it would be ungrateful on my part to curse the Midi, and I confess to you that I leave it with great grief.

If your work should prevent you from coming to meet me at the station, or if it should be at an awkward time or the weather too bad, don't worry, I'll find my way quite well, and I feel so calm that I'd be very much surprised if I lost my mental balance. I do so want to see you again and make Jo's and the baby's acquaintance. I shall probably arrive in Paris about five o'clock in the morning, but anyway the wire will tell you exactly when.

The day of my departure depends on when I'm packed and have finished my canvases; I am working on the latter with such enthusiasm that packing seems to me more difficult than painting. Anyway, it won't be long. I am very glad that this has not dragged along, which is always regrettable once you have made up your mind. I am looking forward so much to seeing the exhibition of Japanese prints again, and I don't at all despise seeing the Salon, where I think there must still be some interesting things, though having read the account in the Figaro, it certainly left me pretty cold.

Kind regards to Jo, and a good handshake in thought.

Ever yours, Vincent

At this time, Vincent was 37 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 11 or 12 May 1890 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 633.

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