van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Theo van Gogh to Vincent van Gogh
Saint-Rémy, 8 May 1889

Letter T 07
Paris, 8 May 1889

My dear Vincent,

Only a few words in a hurry to thank you for your last letter, and to tell you that I don't look upon your going to St. Rémy as a retreat, as you say, but simply as a temporary rest cure in order that you may come back after a short while with renewed strength. I remember seeing something a long time ago which struck me very much. In the Rue des Petits Carreaux (Little Tiles Street) I saw a very heavy dray which had to go up the incline of that street. The coachman whipped the four horses with redoubled lashes, but nevertheless they absolutely refused to take another step forward. So he let them turn around; and when he had gone back to the bottom of the street, he turned around again, almost without giving them a moment's rest, and went up to the top of the street without difficulty.

You would greatly oblige me by letting me know how you are treated in the establishment and how the food is, etc. Mr. Salles spoke very well of what he had seen. This gentleman has been extremely kind; he wrote me a long letter to give an account of his visit. 1 As I cannot tell from your telegram whether you have gone, I do not know whether he accompanied you, as he proposed to do.

There is a very fine picture by Raffaelli at the Salon, two absinthe drinkers. I think him most forceful when he paints such déclassés, though the portrait of the two young girls in white is perhaps the best portrait at the Salon. Zorn has a picture of girls bathing on the beach, which you remember. There is a “Birth of Christ” by Uhde, a triptych, in which there is a pretty sentiment. Otherwise there is very little of interest in the whole bazaar. I quite agree with you that one should not believe exclusively in impressionism, yet it is a fact that there is that individual something in it which is missing in nearly everything to be seen at the Salon.

I hope to see you soon, and keep well. A cordial handshake.


1. See Vincent letter 590.

At this time, Vincent was 36 year old
Theo van Gogh. Letter to Vincent van Gogh. Written 8 May 1889 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number T07.

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