My dear Theo,
Thanks for your letter containing the samples of absorbent canvas.1 Will be very glad to receive — but it’s not at all urgent — 3 metres of the sort at 6 francs.
As for his consignment of colours,2 there were only 4 large tubes of white in it, while all the other tubes were half-size (of white). If he has charged for them in the same proportions, that’s very good, but pay attention to that.
4 tubes of white at 1 franc, but the rest should only be half the price. I find his Prussian blue poor, and his cinnabar. The rest is good.
Now I’ll tell you that I’m working on the 2 paintings of which I wanted to make repetitions.3 The pink peach tree is giving me the most trouble.

You can see from the four squares on the other side4 that the three orchards5 go together, more or less. I now also have a small pear tree, vertical,6 also flanked by two other horizontal canvases.7 That will make 6 canvases of orchards in blossom.
At the moment I’m trying to finish them a little every day, and to make them go together.
I dare hope for 3 more, also going together, but those are still only in the state of embryos or foetuses.8
I’d really like to do this group of 9 canvases.
You understand that we’re free to consider the 9 canvases as the initial idea for a much larger, definitive decoration (this one consists of no. 25 and no. 12 canvases),9 which would be done after exactly the same subjects, at the same time next year.  1v:3

Here’s the other middle piece of the no. 12 canvases.
The ground purple — in the background a wall, with straight poplars — and a very blue sky.
The small pear tree has a purple trunk and white flowers, a large yellow butterfly on one of the clumps.
On the left, in the corner, a little garden with a border of yellow reeds and green bushes and a flowerbed. A small pink house.
So there are the details of the decoration of orchards in blossom, which I was intending for you.
But the last 3 canvases exist only in a provisional state, and are supposed to represent a very large orchard with a border of cypresses and large pear trees and apple trees.
The ‘Pont de Langlois’ for you10 is going well, and will be better than the study, I think.11
Am in a real hurry to get back to work. As for the Guillaumin, if it’s possible, it’s certainly a good deal to buy it.12 But since they’re talking about a new method for fixing pastel, would perhaps be wise to ask him to fix it in this way, in case of purchase. Handshake to you and to Koning.

Ever yours,

I’ve had a letter from Bernard with some sonnets that he’s made,13 some of which are successful; he’ll succeed in making a good sonnet, for which I almost envy him.
As soon as the Langlois bridge and the repetition of the other painting (the pink peach tree) are dry, will make a consignment.


Br. 1990: 599 | CL: 477
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, on or about Friday, 13 April 1888

1. In letter 593 Vincent had asked Theo the price of absorbent canvas at Tasset’s.
2. This refers to the consignment of paint from Tasset & Lhote, for which Van Gogh had asked in letter 593 and acknowledged receipt in letter 595.
3. Van Gogh made a repetition of The Langlois bridge with washerwomen (F 397 / JH 1368 [2571]), namely The Langlois bridge with washerwomen (F 571 / JH 1392 [2589]), and of Pink peach trees (‘Souvenir de Mauve’) (F 394 / JH 1379 [2577]), that is Pink peach trees (F 404 / JH 1391 [2588]). The repetitions were meant for Theo, because Vincent wanted to give F 397 / JH 1368 [2571] to Tersteeg and F 394 / JH 1379 [2577] to Jet Mauve.
[2571] [2589] [2577] [2588] [2571] [2577]
4. This comment is on the verso of the letter sketch with the three sketched orchards; ‘four’ must be a mistake.
5. The three orchards reproduced in the letter sketch Three orchards (F - / JH 1393) are The pink orchard (F 555 / JH 1380 [2578]), Pink peach trees (F 404 / JH 1391 [2588]) – Pink peach trees (‘Souvenir de Mauve’) (F 394 / JH 1379 [2577]) seems unlikely because Van Gogh wanted to give it away – and The white orchard (F 403 / JH 1378 [2576]). See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1990, p. 104.
[2578] [2588] [2577] [2576]
6. Small pear tree in blossom (F 405 / JH 1394 [2590]), after which Van Gogh made the sketch of the same name F - / JH 1395 later in the letter.
7. The flanking horizontal works are Orchard with apricot trees in blossom (F 553 / JH 1387 [2585]) and Orchard with apricot trees in blossom (F 556 / JH 1383 [2581]). See exhib. cat. New York 1984, p. 47 and exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1990, p. 112.
[2585] [2581]
8. It emerges from the rest of the letter that these three works were supposed to represent a large orchard with cypress trees (ll. 60-61). At any rate they included Orchard bordered by cypresses (F 513 / JH 1389 [2587]) and Orchard with peach trees in blossom (F 551 / JH 1396 [2591]). The third work was probably Orchard (F 552 / JH 1381 [2579]), or the large study of a cherry tree which Van Gogh reported a week later he had ‘worked to death’ (letter 600). He evidently abandoned the notion of a triptych, since later he regarded F 513 / JH 1389 and F 551 / JH 1396 as a pair in their own right (see letters 608 and 615).
Cf. for the description ‘the state of embryos or foetuses’ in conjunction with the ‘initial idea’ a few lines later in the letter, the following note made by Eugène Delacroix in his Journal of 23 April 1854: ‘The first idea, the sketch, which is in some ways the egg or embryo of the idea, is usually far from complete; it contains everything if you like, but all this has to be brought out’ (L’Idée première, le croquis, qui est en quelque sorte l’oeuf ou l’embryon de l’idée, est loin ordinairement d’être complet; il contient tout si l’on veut, mais il faut dégager ce tout). See Delacroix 1996, p. 414.
[2587] [2591] [2579]
9. The ‘no. 12 canvases’ of which Little blossoming pear tree was the central one both measure 55 x 65 cm and strictly speaking are therefore ‘figure 15’ canvases. Pink peach trees was flanked by two no. 25 canvases (65.5 x 80.5 cm and 60 x 80 cm respectively).
10. The Langlois bridge with washerwomen (F 571 / JH 1392 [2589]); see for Van Gogh’s misnomer for the bridge: letter 595, n. 4.
11. The study is The Langlois bridge with washerwomen (F 397 / JH 1368 [2571]).
12. Guillaumin’s pastel Farmhouses at Janville (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum). Ill. 143 [143]. We do not know which method of fixing Van Gogh meant.
13. These sonnets are not known. See for Van Gogh’s reaction to them to Bernard: letter 599. We can infer from this postscript that Van Gogh must have received another letter from Bernard shortly after he had written letter 596 to him.