My dear Theo,
I’ve received a letter from Mr E. Dujardin regarding the exhibition of some canvases of mine in his dark hole.1 I find it so disgusting to pay for the planned exhibition with a canvas that in reality there aren’t two answers to this gentleman’s letter. There’s one, and you’ll find it enclosed. Only I’m sending it to you and not to him so that you know my thoughts and so that you can simply tell him that I’ve changed my mind and haven’t the slightest desire to exhibit at this moment. It’s no use at all getting angry with the chap, it’s better to be tritely polite.
So no exhibition at the Revue Indépendante, I make so bold as to believe that Gauguin is of the same opinion. In any case he doesn’t at all urge me to do it.2
We’ve hardly ever exhibited, have we?
There were a few canvases at Tanguy’s place first of all, at Thomas’s and then at Martin’s.3
Now I declare here that I absolutely do not know what useful purpose that even serves, and it would seem to me more just, certainly, that you should simply keep the studies that you liked in your apartment, that you send the others back to me here rolled up, since the apartment is small and if you kept everything they’d clutter it up.
So, without our hurrying I’m preparing the wherewithal here to stage a more serious exhibition.
But as for the Revue Indépendante I’d ask you to put a complete end to it, the opportunity is too good, and you’ll feel that they’re completely mistaken if they imagine I’m going to pay to have myself put on show in such a small, dark and above all scheming hole.
Now with regard to the few canvases at Tanguy’s or Thomas’s place... that’s a matter of such absolute indifference to me that in reality it isn’t worth talking about — but you should know above all that I’m really not at all attached to the idea.
1v:2 I know in advance what I’ll do the moment I have enough canvases. For the moment I’m simply busying myself with making them.
What will please you is that Gauguin has finished his canvas of the women picking grapes,4 it’s as fine as the negresses and if, say, you paid the same price for it as for the negresses (400 I think)5 that would certainly be good too. But naturally you have to choose from all of them, and I haven’t seen the Breton things.6 He’s explained several of them to me, and they must be fine.
I’ve done a rough sketch of a brothel,7 and I’m in fact planning to do a brothel painting.
Gauguin came here on 20 Oct.,8 so we must reckon that he received 50 francs from you last month.
Yes, I think that for the exhibition of my work we must express ourselves clearly. As for you, you’re with the Goupils, you aren’t authorized to do business outside the firm. So since I’m absent I do not exhibit.
I repeat, I’m indifferent as regards Tanguy’s place, provided Tanguy is fully aware that he has no right over my canvases, none.
So, my position is clear at least, which isn’t a matter of absolute indifference to me. With a little more work I’ll have sufficient not to need to exhibit at all any more, that’s what I’m aiming at.
I myself have also finished a canvas of a vineyard, all purple and yellow with little blue and violet figures and a yellow sun.9
I think you’ll be able to place this canvas next to Monticelli’s landscapes.
I’m going to set myself to work often from memory, and the canvases done from memory are always less awkward and have a more artistic look than the studies from nature, especially when I’m working in mistral conditions.
I don’t think I’ve yet told you that Milliet has left for Africa. He has a study of mine for troubling to take the canvases to Paris10 and Gauguin gave him a little drawing in exchange for an illustrated edition of Madame Chrysanthème.11 I’ve still not received the exchanges from Pont-Aven, but Gauguin assures me that the canvases were done.
The weather’s windy and rainy here, and I’m very happy not to be alone, I work from memory on bad days, and that wouldn’t work if I were alone.
Gauguin has also almost finished his night café.12 He makes a really interesting friend — I must tell you that he knows how to cook perfectly, I think that I’ll learn that from him, it’s really convenient.
We’re very satisfied with making frames with simple strips of wood nailed on the stretching frame and painted, which I’ve started doing.13
Do you know that Gauguin is partly the inventor of the white frame? But the frame made from four strips of wood nailed on the stretching frame costs 5 sous,
1r:4 and we’re certainly going to perfect it. It serves very well, since this frame doesn’t stick out at all and is one with the canvas.
More soon, I shake your hand firmly and send my regards to the Dutchmen.14
Gauguin sends his warm regards, and asks you to keep back from the price of the first painting you sell the amount necessary for the stretching frames, which he wants with keys, and also what Bernard will ask from you for a commission he gave him.15