My dear Theo,
A message from Sien
that all is going well, thank God. If that continues, she should leave a fortnight after the birth. This forced me to make a decision about the new house, so that she’d find a warm nest on her return after so much pain. So I reached an understanding with the owner
First, that right away he’d help me move, namely by letting me have a few men from the yard2
at the end of an afternoon to carry all my things, because I’m not allowed to lift much, in fact nothing at all. And then that I won’t pay him any rent until either I or the woman actually moves in, for Sien may be back from hospital before I am. Meanwhile I must reach an agreement with the previous landlord3
for the current month (because I was ill and didn’t know when I would be better, I was unable to give him notice that I was leaving). I hope to get away with paying for 1 week or a fortnight, anyway I’m not planning to give him the whole month.
Perhaps you’ve already sent something – then maybe I’ll find your letter tomorrow morning with the hospital porter.4
But if you haven’t yet sent, I would ask you to please do so soon because I’m running short and must pay 10 guilders in advance to go back into hospital, so that my going back there depends on your letter. This morning there was still no letter with the porter.
Now the move is largely done. Sien’s mother
is helping me. It’s quite a job, because the whole house is still full of plaster dust and needs to be scrubbed. But the studio and alcove are clean, and nearly all the furniture &c. has been brought over. Now we’re taking a break to eat.
I’m fine, I feel much better than I’ve done for a long time, but my nether parts are still not completely in order when I pass water. Although walking, being out of doors &c. agrees with me. Yesterday I spoke briefly to the director of the hospital, Dr Tienhoven
in the street and told him how I was getting on, and he made no objection. So I have hopes of being fully cured soon.
If I had designed this new house myself, and had deliberately wanted to fit it out as a studio, I couldn’t have made it better than it is now. And not another house in the street is like this one inside, although from the outside they all look exactly the same. The fact that I’m in it is really the fault of the storm that broke the window of the old studio, for if that hadn’t happened I would never have known about this house.6
It was on that occasion that the carpenter drew it to my attention and said, why don’t you move next door?
Well brother, and during the move I’ve dashed off another drawing, a watercolour again. Based on a sketch done before my illness that was only half finished. So it’s coming to life again. It shows pinks on the beach, big hulls
of boats lying in the hot sand with the sea very far off in a blue mist or haze, for it was a day with sun, but it’s with the light behind, not into it, so that you have to feel the sun through a few short cast shadows and the shimmering of the warm air above the sand.7
It’s only an impression but I believe it’s fairly accurate. My fingers are itching so much to get back to work, and needless to say I would rather have gone to Scheveningen than to the hospital. Still, what must be must be.
Now I’m longing for your letter and even more for your arrival — provided I’m not then in the hospital. And for what you’ll say about the new house. And for what you’ll think of Sien
when you see her, and of the new little clever-clogs
. I do hope you’ll feel some sympathy for Sien, because she deserves it. Another thing… Might there be any more Ingres paper of the same thickness as the enclosed sample in your part of the world, ideally with slightly more tone? If so, bring some when you come, together with those of my sketches that you have but don’t want to keep. Of course I hope that you’ll definitely keep Sorrow and the best of them, and the large Sorrow.8
Adieu, with a handshake.