van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Auvers-sur-Oise, 21 May 1890
Relevant paintings:

"Thatched Cottages," Vincent van Gogh 1890

My dear Theo and Jo,

In the other letter I forgot to give you the address here, which is temporarily Place de la Mairie, chez Ravoux. Besides, when I wrote to you, I had not yet made anything. Now I have one study of old thatched roofs with a field of peas in flower in the foreground and wheat, background of hills,. A study which I think you will like. And I already feel that it did me good to go South, the better to see the North.

It is as I thought, I see more violet hues wherever they are. Auvers is decidedly very beautiful.

So much so that I think it will pay better to work than not to work, in spite of all the bad luck with the paintings that may be expected.

It is very colourful here - but there are such pretty bourgeois country houses, much prettier than Ville d'Avray, etc., to my thinking. Seems that Desmoulins, the man who did Japan, was here, but has gone. So if you can send me some money toward the end of the week, what I have will last me till then, but I haven't any for a longer time.

These I need in any case so as not to waste time. There is a lot to draw here. Dear fellow, having thought it over, I do not say that my work is good, but the thing is that I can do less bad stuff. Everything else, relations with people, is very secondary, because I haven't the gift for that. I can't help that.

Not working or working less would cost double, that is all I can see. If we look for another road to success than the natural road of work - which we shall hardly do. Look here, if I work, people here are just as likely to come to my house without my going to see them purposely as if I took steps to make acquaintances.

It is by working that you meet people, and that is the best way. Besides, I am quite convinced that this is your opinion and Jo's too. I can do nothing about my illness.

I felt that in Paris and here too, but serenity will come as my work gets on a bit. However that may be, I do not regret being back, and things will go better here. I'll be very glad if some time from now you were to come here one Sunday with your family.

You will see clearly that in order to come to understand the country and the way of life, seeing other countries as all to the good.

But I find the modern villas and the bourgeois country houses almost as pretty as the old thatched cottages which are falling into ruin. Mmes. Daubigny and Daumier, they say, are still staying here, at least I am sure that the former is.

When you can, you might send me Bargue's Exercises au fusain for a while. I need it urgently, I will copy them so as to keep the copies for good.

Very hearty handshakes,


At this time, Vincent was 37 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 21 May 1890 in Auvers-sur-Oise. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 636.

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