van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Theo van Gogh to Vincent van Gogh
Saint-Rémy, 21 October 1889
Relevant paintings:

"Irises," Vincent van Gogh

"Tarascon Diligence," Vincent van Gogh

"Corner in the Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital," Vincent van Gogh

"Starry Night," Vincent van Gogh

Letter T19
Paris, 21 October 1889

My dear Vincent,

Enclosed please find 150 francs for Mr. Peyron and for your travelling expenses to Arles. In my letters to Mr. Peyron I said that he should tell me if there are any supplementary expenses, but he never said a word about it. So be kind enough to ask him to let me know every time he acknowledges receipt of my monthly letter if there is anything owing him; in this way the bill will not mount up. 1 I hope you are still in good health, and that you are having luck with your work. I have had quite a number of people calling on me to see your work. Israël's son, who is staying in Paris for some time; Veth, a Dutchman who paints portraits, and who writes in the Nieuve Gids, 2 that periodical you may have heard some talk about - it rouses the indignation of so many people but there are often good things in it; and then Van Rysselberghe, one of the Vingtistes of Brussels. The latter also saw everything there is at Tangui's, and your pictures seem to interest him quite a lot.

In Belgium people are already more accustomed to colourful painting; in this respect the exhibition of the “XX” has done a great deal of good, although they are buying nothing over there. The exhibition of the Independents is over and I've got your irises back; it is one of your good things. It seems to me that you are stronger when you paint true things like that, or like the stagecoach at Tarascon, or the head of a child, or the underbrush with the ivy in vertical format. The form is so well defined, and the whole is full of colour.

I understand quite well what it is which preoccupies you in your new canvases, like the village in the moonlight, but I think that the search for some style is prejudicial to the true sentiment of things. In the last consignment of Gauguin's there is the same preoccupation as in your things, but with him there are many more reminiscences of the Japanese, the Egyptians, etc. As far as I am concerned I prefer a Breton woman of the countryside to a Breton woman with the gestures of a Japanese woman, but art knows no bounds, and so one is allowed to do what one thinks one ought to do. Guillaumin was in Auvergne last summer and has brought back some good canvases from there. As for him, he does not strive much for new effects in his colouration. He contents himself with what he has found, and one always finds the same pink, orange and blue-violet spots, but his stroke is vigorous, and his view of nature is certainly broad.

Pissarro has gone away, and I suppose he is now occupying himself with that worthy man at Auvers. I hope he will succeed, and that we are going to see you next spring, if not earlier. Jo is quite well; she is getting considerably bigger, and feels life already, but this does not give her a too-unpleasant sensation.

Mother sent us a letter from Cor; he has arrived at Johannesburg. It is a rather wild country, and one has to go about with a revolver all day long. There is no vegetation there, nothing but sand, except in the places which are oases. My letter has to go off now. Jo gives you her kindest regards. A cordial handshake.

Yours, Theo

  1. See Vincent's letter 611.

  2. Nieuve Gids [New Guide], the monthly magazine of the then highly influential literary Movement of the Eighties in Holland.

At this time, Vincent was 36 year old
Theo van Gogh. Letter to Vincent van Gogh. Written 21 October 1889 in Saint-Rémy. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number T19.

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