From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Dordrecht, Sunday, 15 April 1877
Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b108 V/1962
On the day he wrote this letter, Van Gogh’s roommate P.C. Görlitz visited Rev. Van Gogh in Etten, and there was an early sermon in Dordrecht. Lack of documented evidence makes it impossible to date these events, however. It is certain that this letter was written on a Sunday, because of the sermon (l. 44). This must have been after Sunday, 18 March, since Van Gogh mentions having visited Amsterdam on that day (the museum, l. 4). There is also a reference, however, to a letter from Uncle Vincent van Gogh, in which he must have said that he was unable to lend any further support to Vincent’s new plans and intended to break off the correspondence (l. 33). Mrs van Gogh talks about this in a letter to Theo dated Wednesday, 18 April: ‘Dearest Theo, we haven’t read the letter from Uncle to Vincent yet; Vincent is to bring it with him some time when he comes. Uncle wrote to tell us that he had written to him, but could not endorse his plans’ (FR b2521; see also n. 11). Theo must therefore have written to his mother about the letter from Uncle Vincent, having been prompted to do so by what Vincent told him in the present letter. Considering the importance of this matter and the frequent contact among family members in this period – the whole family were together in Etten at Easter, on 1 April – it is unlikely that the contents of Uncle Vincent’s letter were not yet known to the parents three weeks later. Because Van Gogh had already written letter 110 by Sunday, 8 April, it is likely that the present letter was written on Sunday, 15 April. A dating to later in April is unlikely, because around that time plans for Vincent to study in Amsterdam were already taking shape.
Placing this letter between the letter of 8 April (letter 110) and that of 22 and 23 April (letter 112) helps to clarify a number of things: for example, the remark about the books by Thoré (letter 112, l. 66) can now be explained as a reaction to the letter Theo wrote after receiving the book by Thoré that was sent with the present letter; and more light is shed on the letters that had meanwhile reached Van Gogh from Harry Gladwell’s father and Harry (see the present letter, l. 37 and letter 112, l. 57), telling of Harry’s difficulties. Finally, it would be strange if Van Gogh were to wait until three weeks after the fact to ask if he had already told them that Görlitz had applied for a teaching post in Etten (see letter 112, l. 50).
Theo’s infatuation (103)
Vincent’s plans to become a clergyman (106)