van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Theo van Gogh to Vincent van Gogh
Saint-Rémy, 16 July 1889
Relevant paintings:

"Courtyard of the Arles hospital," Vincent van Gogh

"Death's head moth," Vincent van Gogh

"Starry Night over the Rhone," Vincent van Gogh

"Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers," Vincent van Gogh

"Still Life: Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers," Vincent van Gogh

"Still Life: Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers," Vincent van Gogh

Letter T12
Paris, 16 July 1889

My dear Vincent,

I thank you for your letters and the fine drawings you sent me. The hospital at Arles is very remarkable, the butterfly and the branch of the eglantine are very beautiful too; simple in colour and very beautifully drawn. The last drawings give the impression of having been made in a fury, and are a bit removed from nature. I shall understand them better when I have seen one of these subjects in painting. I have invited quite a number of people to see your pictures, the Pissarros, Father Tangui,1 Verenskiold, a Norwegian who has a lot of talent and who got the medal of honour in his country's section at the Universal Exhibition at Maus's.

The latter is the secretary of the “XX” at Brussels. He came to ask me whether you would be willing to send in work for their next exhibition. There is plenty of time for it, but he didn't know whether he could come to Paris before the event. I told him that I did not suppose you would have any objections. He ought to invite Bernard too. In general people like the night effect and the sunflowers. I have put one of the sunflower pieces in our dining room against the mantelpiece. It has the effect of a piece of cloth with satin and gold embroidery; it is magnificent.

As from the 15th onward I no longer have the apartment in the Rue Lepic at my disposal, and as it is impossible to store all the canvases at home, I have rented a little room in Father Tangui's house, where I have put quite a few of them. I have chosen those which are to be taken from the stretchers, and then other canvases can be put on them. Father Tangui has been very helpful, and it will be easy to let him have new things all the time, which he will be able to show. You can well imagine how enthusiastic he is about the things with expressive colours, like the vines, the night effect, etc. I wish you could hear him, if only once. I also forgot to tell you that De Haan has been here; he sent Jo an enormous bunch of poppies of all sorts of colours; I never saw such a glorious bouquet and the rain of multicoloured petals when they began to wither! He likes what you do very much. He is now with Gauguin. Isaäcson is all at sea now that De Haan is no longer here. Gauguin is writing for a paper, which I am sending you; he wrote me a letter last week, and asked me to let him have your address, as he had lost it; De Haan told me that Gauguin has done very fine things. You were not very fortunate in not seeing Mr. Salles, or Rey, when you went to Arles. 2 I had a letter from the former gentleman. Before I received our letter in which you told me to send him the “Wanderers to Ammaus,” I sent him “Angelus,” a lithograph by Vernier. I am sorry I did not think of the other subject, for it would have been rather more to his taste.

You can well imagine that the news of Jo's pregnancy excited her parents greatly. Her father and mother are coming here next week. Our mother too is very pleased.

What you say is very true - that her letter is very remarkable for her age. Yes, it certainly is a very good thing that I am married, for if this had not been the case I think I should have been a very sick man at present, whereas now I believe I am getting my strength back, and will be able to work a little better than I have.

Jo is very good to me, and yet she has had her very bad days in consequence of vomiting, etc.; now she seems to be calming down, and she is looking well. If only the child is viable. I think that in general children inherit the parents' kind of constitution rather than the state of their health at the moment of begetting.

I have to close this letter in a hurry. Enclosed is a money order, for since you did not see Mr. Salles, it is possible that you need something.

Best wishes, also from Jo, and once again many thanks for your kind letters and the drawings.

Yours, Theo

  1. Theo invariably wrote Tangui, and not Tanguy like Vincent.

  2. See Vincent's letter 600 to Theo.

At this time, Vincent was 36 year old
Theo van Gogh. Letter to Vincent van Gogh. Written 16 July 1889 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number T12.

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