My dear Theo,
Wanted to tell you that Van der Weele saw my drawings this evening, his opinion was favourable and this gives me great pleasure. Do you know what I’ve done? Given the desirability of making some money if possible, I’ve sent small sketches of the two compositions1 to C.M. My hope is that this will perhaps result in his being ready to help carry out the whole of the plan I have, namely to do a series of drawings of work in the dunes.
I also thought that these drawings might perhaps be something for Cottier. I imagine they’d lend themselves to being placed, as one sometimes sees in England (and elsewhere too), in the panels of a large cabinet, above a fireplace, in panelling, in short in woodwork. But you know how it is with Cottier: if there’s a certain degree of style in a drawing, he’ll be enthusiastic all right, but alas he usually pays little.
Still, he’s one of those who might give warm support, I believe, and moreover could provide a good place for the drawings. My idea is: could you show the croquis to friend Wisselingh sometime, and mention to him that I think they’d be good for setting in woodwork?2 Encourage him in any event to come to the studio if he’s ever in town. For supposing he thought they were suitable for this purpose, it might be possible to come to an arrangement with him for more, and if I knew he was interested I could perhaps make them even more suitable for that use if I worked specially at giving them a decorative character.3
This morning I was out of doors at 4 o’clock already. My plan is to tackle the rag-pickers, or rather I’ve already begun tackling it. For this drawing4 I must do studies of horses, and today I did two in the Rijnspoor stable,5 and will probably get an old horse at the rubbish dump.6
The scene at the dung-heap is splendid but very complicated and difficult, and will be a hard struggle. I did several drawings at a very early hour.7 One in which one has a view through to a very small, glittering spot of green freshness is likely to be the ultimate one, I think.
It’s something like the above scratch; everything, including the women in the foreground and the white horse in the background, must be in chiaroscuro against the green patch with a chink of sky above. So that one gets the opposition of all those sombre sheds overlapping each other in perspective, and all that rubbish and those grey figures against something clean and fresh. The group of women and the horse create lighter passages in the tone of the chiaroscuro, and the rag-pickers and the dung-heaps darker areas.
In the foreground all kinds of broken and discarded objects, bits of old baskets, a rusty street-light, broken pots &c. While making these first two drawings, so many ideas and such a strong desire to do yet more have come to me that I don’t know where to start. But finally I’ve concentrated on the dung-heap. Well, Theo, we must keep up our spirits, and see that we carry on toiling energetically.
Even if we’re anxious at times and don’t know how we’ll pull through, that is nothing and cannot be otherwise. Those who persevere often triumph.
And just now, when sending the money is beginning to be doubly hard for you, there may perhaps be a real chance to place something.
If only you were here. It also occurred to me that, were he not prejudiced against having anything to do with me, perhaps Tersteeg could make use of these compositions in a smaller format, with sepia for example.
If only you were here. Perhaps something could be arranged with him. I certainly don’t refuse to take the trouble to make something. As long as there’s no reconciliation with Tersteeg, however, and with C.M.,8 and I have virtually no other resource than the money from you, do your best, for it seems to me that, now especially, much depends precisely on my continuing to work hard. Although I have hardly anything left, I have again made an appointment with the models for this new drawing, and today I’ll perhaps get a Scheveningen hat and cape with what I still have at the moment.
If I can get hold of the patched cape, old chap, then I’ll have my female figures for the foreground of the drawing of the rag-pickers, I’m sure of that.
And it’s a start with looking for other female figures for Scheveningen drawings too.