From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Paris, between about Sunday, 17 and Tuesday, 19 July 1887
Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b501 V/1962
This letter and the next one (572) were written while Theo was in the Netherlands in the summer of 1887. The exact dates of this stay are not documented, but it was probably a period of 10 to 14 days. (Theo usually took two weeks’ holiday.) He was at his mother’s in Breda on Tuesday, 26 July and in any event was back at work in Paris on Thursday, 28 July (see Brief happiness 1999, p. 63 and Welsh-Ovcharov 1976, p. 250). This would mean that his leave started on or about Thursday, 14 July. Earlier – and hence a three-week holiday – is virtually ruled out because on Sunday, 10 July Theo still did not know when he would be free. On that day he wrote to Caroline van Stockum-Haanebeek: ‘I’m going to Holland this summer, perhaps very soon’ (FR b727). This means that his holiday did not start that weekend. It is known that he went to see Jo Bonger in Amsterdam on Friday, 22 July, while from letter 572 it can be deduced that he also visited his mother in Breda prior to that.
Letter 571 was certainly written before 572 since in the present letter Vincent says that he has painted two works since Theo left, and in letter 572 he refers to four. It is also evident that the money he had received, which he refers to in letter 572, is the money he asked for in letter 571.
Theo’s letter with the money did not contain any news about Jo Bonger’s refusal of his marriage proposal, and was therefore probably sent on 21 July at the latest, so Vincent must have written this by Tuesday, 19 July at the latest. Since Theo must have left around 14 July and this letter was written relatively soon after his departure – Vincent says he hopes Theo will enjoy the visit – we have dated it between about Sunday, 17 and Tuesday, 19 July 1887.
Vincent wrote all his previous letters to Theo – with the exception of those from the Borinage – in Dutch; now he switches to French. The reason for this must have been that because they both spent most of their time with French-speakers in Paris, they had become accustomed to communicating in French.