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601 To Theo van Gogh. Arles, on or about Wednesday, 25 April 1888.

metadata
No. 601 (Brieven 1990 603, Complete Letters 479)
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, on or about Wednesday, 25 April 1888

Source status
Original manuscript

Location
Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b519 V/1962

Date
This letter was written after letter 600 of about 20 April 1888, since the question of the letter that had not reached Theo raised in that one has meanwhile been resolved (ll. 1*-6). The remark in the postscript about the expected financial straits at the end of the month tells us that there were certainly still a few more days to go before the end of April. We also deduce from the reference to ‘last Sunday’ that at least a couple of days had elapsed between that day (Sunday, 22 April) and the writing of the letter. Given all these indications, we have dated the letter on or about Wednesday, 25 April 1888.

Ongoing topics
The possibility that Theo might leave Boussod, Valadon & Cie (600)
The plan to exhibit work by modern artists in Marseille (580)
Theo’s trip to Belgium and the Netherlands (600)

original text
 1r:1
Mon cher Theo,
je commence par te dire que la lettre que tu n’as pas reçue était mal adressée par moi et m’est revenue comme telle. Je l’avais – dans un moment d’abstractiona – bien caracterisé – adressée Rue de Laval au lieu de Rue Lepic.–1
Cela étant je te repète ce qu’il y avait dans la lettre – comme de neuf – la visite de Mc Knight, l’ami de Russell, qui d’ailleurs est revenu Dimanche dernier.2 Je dois aller le voir chez lui et y voir ce qu’il fait, dont je n’ai encore rien vu.
C’est un yankee qui probablement fait beaucoup mieux que les yankees d’habitude. Mais un yankee tout de même.
Est ce là assez dire.– Lorsque j’aurai vu ses tableaux ou dessins j’admettrai pour l’oeuvre.– Toujours tant que ca pour l’homme.–
Le but principal de cette lettre c’est de savoir si tu es parti et comment. Et après – ce – l’après – tu ne le sauras peutêtre pas toi-même.
Enfin il parait toujours que ces messieurs Boussod Val. ne se soucient aucunément  1v:2 du qu’en dira-t-on des artistes.–
Mais je ne te cache pas que j’ai trouvé la nouvelle mauvaise et que, je t’assure, bien malgré moi j’y ai pensé tous les jours. Puisque je n’ose pas continuer dans des affaires qui te couteraient plus que maintenant elles rapporteront Car c’est un peu signe, toute cette conversation avec ces messieurs B&V, que l’impressionisme ne prend pas suffisamment.
En tant que quant à moi je me suis abstenu immédiatement de faire des tableaux et j’ai continué une serie de dessins à la plume dont tu as eu les deux premiers mais en plus petit format.–3
Car je me suis dit qu’une brouille avec ces messieurs pourrait rendre désirable pour toi des dépenses moindres de mon côté.
Ne tenant pas tant que ca à mes tableaux je les laisserais là sans trop murmurer.
 1v:3
N’étant heureusement pour moi pas de ceux qui n’aiment dans ce monde que les tableaux.
Par contre, croyant qu’une chôse artistique puisse se faire à moins de frais que n’en nécessite un tableau – j’ai commencé une serie de dessins à la plume.–
En attendant j’ai des contrarietés. Je ne crois plus y gagner en restant où je suis,4 je prendrais plutôt une chambre ou à la rigueur deux chambres, une à coucher, une pour travailler.
Car les gens d’ici s’en font trop prevaloir pour me faire payer TOUT assez cher, de ce que je leurs prends avec mes tableaux un peu plus de place que les autres clients qui ne sont pas peintre. Je me ferai prévaloir de mon côté de ce que je reste plus longtemps et que je dépense plus dans l’hôtellerie que les ouvriers de passage. Et ils n’auront plus si facilement un sou de moi.–
Mais – c’est toujours une bien grande misère que de traîner après soi l’attirail du travail et les tableaux, ce qui rend plus difficile et l’entrée et la sortie.–
 1r:4
Etant obligé, en tout cas décidé de changer, veux tu ou plutôt trouves tu plus convenable d’aller à Marseilles maintenant.– J’y peux faire série marines comme série vergers en fleur ici.– J’ai d’ailleurs acheté 3 chemises de toile forte et deux paires de souliers forts dans un but de changer.
à Marseille je m’occuperais plus volontiers de chercher à conquerir une vitrine pour les impressionistes, si toi de ton côté me donnerais l’assurance que tu la pourvoirais, cette vitrine, de tableaux impressionistes si on t’en demande à exposer. ce qui sera facile.–
J’ai parfois une inquiétude grave que toi & aussi moi serons encore roulé par ces messieurs Boussod Valadon & Cie qui nous font des misères. Seulement je m’y oppose. Ne te laisse pas rouler par eux. Suffit pour aujourd’hui.
fais moi donc savoir ton adresse en cas de voyage. Quand seras tu en Hollande? Pour moi toujours même adresse mais désirerais changer, ne m’y trouvant pas bien.
T’enverrai dessins à la plume sous peu, j’en ai déjà 4.5
Poignée de main.

Vincent

Serai tres gêné fin du mois mais sortirais, seulement c’est pour pouvoir changer raide que je suis préoccupé.

translation
 1r:1
My dear Theo,
I’ll start by telling you that the letter you didn’t receive was wrongly addressed by me and as such came back to me. I had — in a moment of distraction — a classic case — addressed it rue de Laval instead of rue Lepic.1
That being so I’m repeating for you what was in the letter — what was new — the visit by MacKnight, Russell’s friend, who came back last Sunday by the way.2 I must go to see him at home and see what he’s making, of which I’ve seen nothing so far.
He’s a Yankee who probably does much better than the ordinary run of Yankees. But a Yankee all the same.
Is that saying enough? When I’ve seen his paintings or drawings I’ll concede about the work. But about the man, still the same.
The main point of this letter is to know if you’ve left, and how. And after — that — what comes after — you perhaps don’t know yourself.
Anyway, it always seems that those Boussod Val. gentlemen don’t care in the least  1v:2 for what the artists themselves will say about it.
But I won’t hide from you that I thought the news was bad and that, I assure you, I’ve thought about it every day, quite in spite of myself. Because I daren’t continue with things that are going to cost you more than they’ll bring in at present. Because it’s something of a sign, all this conversation with those B&V gentlemen, that Impressionism isn’t catching on sufficiently.
As for me, I immediately stopped doing paintings and I’ve carried on with a series of pen drawings of which you’ve had the first two, but in a smaller format.3
Because I said to myself that a falling-out with those gentlemen could make lower expenses on my part desirable for you.
Not being so very attached to my paintings I’d leave them there without grumbling too much.  1v:3
Not being, fortunately for me, one of those people whose only love in this world is paintings.
On the contrary, believing that an artistic thing can be made at less cost than a painting requires — I’ve started a series of pen drawings.
While waiting, I have some annoyances. I don’t now think that I’ll benefit from staying where I am,4 I’d rather take a room or two rooms, if need be, one to sleep in, one to work in.
Because the people here, in order to make me pay pretty high rates for EVERYTHING, make too much of the fact that I take up a little more room with my paintings than their other customers who aren’t painters. For my part, I’ll make the point that I’m staying longer and spend more in the guest-house than labourers who just stay a short time. And they won’t get a sou out of me so easily any more.
But — it’s always a really miserable thing dragging your equipment and paintings along behind you, and that makes coming in and going out more difficult.  1r:4
Being forced, determined anyway, to move, do you want or rather do you think it more suitable, to go to Marseille now? I can do a series of seascapes there like the orchards in blossom series here. And I’ve also bought 3 strong cloth shirts and two pairs of sturdy shoes, with the idea of moving.
In Marseille I would be more willing to try to obtain a showcase for the Impressionists, if you for your part would give me an assurance that you’d supply it, this showcase, with Impressionist paintings if people ask you to exhibit them. Which will be easy.
I sometimes have serious anxieties that you, and I too, will be rooked again by those Boussod Valadon & Cie gentlemen, who give us a hard time. But I resist it. Don’t let yourself be rooked by them. Enough for today.
So let me know your address in case you travel. When will you be in Holland? Still same address for me but would like to move, as I don’t feel comfortable here.
Will send you pen drawings shortly, I already have 4 of them.5
Handshake.

Vincent

Will be very hard up end of month but should get by, only it’s being able to move right away that bothers me.
notes
a. Read: ‘distraction’.
1. Rue Laval was Theo’s previous address in Paris: see letter 218.
2. Van Gogh’s first meeting with MacKnight in Arles was most probably on Sunday, 15 April (see letter 598), so ‘last Sunday’ must have been 22 April.
3. The two pen-and-ink drawings Theo had were Orchard with Arles in the background (F 1516 / JH 1376 ) and The white orchard (F 1414 / JH 1385 ); see letter 600, n. 1. For the smaller drawings, four of which Van Gogh says he has finished later in the letter, see n. 5 below.
4. Van Gogh rented a room from Carrel in rue Amédée-Pichot (see letter 577, n. 4).
5. These four drawings most likely included Field with farmhouses (F 1474 / JH 1407 ) and Farmhouse in a wheatfield (F 1415 / JH 1408 ). Both measure approx. 25 x 35 cm. It is not possible to tell which the two other sheets were. See cat. Amsterdam 2007, pp. 69-75, cat. nos. 327-328.