My dear Theo,
In all likelihood you’ll have received the little crate in the last few days.1 I wanted to tell you that I have another similar thing, a white wattle-and-daub cottage, the size slightly more in the width.2
Yesterday I was at a large forest fire on a sweltering afternoon.3 It was a wood in the middle of a bare stretch of heath, and the sight was very singular because of the amazing masses of black and white smoke that were rising straight up. The fire confined itself to the heather, the pine needles and dry branches, though. The trunks remained standing.
I’m very busy with the figure drawings; however I’ll have to make 100 or so before I paint them, since that will save me time and money.
I believe I’ll get them rounder and fuller than before.4
I have absolutely no money, though, and scarcely know how to get through the month.
From time to time I can become dispirited that it will always just stay the same, selling nothing.
Still, I carry on and steel myself against it.
Others have borne it, too.
Wasn’t there a contribution by Lhermitte in May?5
I say it again — work against indifference — perseverance isn’t easy — but things that are easy mean little.
Painting peasant life is something that remains good, and the fight that others won is still going on and one can win it again. Far from there being too many peasant painters — to my mind it would be better if there could be hundreds more.
It’s not a bad idea that in France they’re going to decorate the town halls with subjects from rural life, like a number of the paintings that were at the Salon.6 I do think that this will be taken still further.
But — it would be even better for the peasant paintings to come into the houses, straight to the people, in the illustrated magazines and other reproductions.
So when I feel discouragement it’s only in passing.
I heard from home that you’d written something to them about Serret, about how he said I could be assured of his sympathy &c. Is Serret a painter, a dealer or an art lover? As of today, I don’t know.7 I wanted to put Germinal8 in the crate with the paintings, but in the end was afraid it might fall in among them and be damaged. I’ll put it in the next one, though, or return it by post. I think it magnificent.