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729 To Theo van Gogh. Arles, Friday, 4 January 1889.

No. 729 (Brieven 1990 734, Complete Letters 566)
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, Friday, 4 January 1889

Source status
Original manuscript

Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b613 V/1962

The letter was written when Van Gogh was allowed to leave the hospital for a few hours and went to the Yellow House (ll. 7-11, 40-42). This was on Friday, 4 January 1889, as evidenced by a letter Joseph Roulin sent on this day to Theo (FR b1068).

Previously the two letters, the one to Theo and the one to Gauguin, were included under one number. Here we have separated them. For the second letter, see 730.

Ongoing topics
Gauguin’s departure from Arles (728)
Vincent’s first crisis and hospitalization (728)
Theo’s journey to Arles (728)
Theo’s engagement and marriage to Jo Bonger (728)

original text
Mon cher frère
J’espère que Gauguin te rassurera completement aussi un peu pour les affaires de la peinture.
Je compte bientot reprendre le travail.
La femme de ménage et mon ami Roulin avaient pris soin de la maison, avaient tout mis en bon ordre.1
Lorsque je sortirai je pourrai reprendre mon petit chemin ici et bientôt la belle saison va venir et je recommencerai les vergers en fleurs.2
Je suis, mon cher frère, si navré de ton voyage, j’eusse désiré que cela t’eût été épargné car en somme aucun mal ne m’est arrivé et il n’y avait pas de quoi  1v:2 te déranger.
Je ne saurais te dire combien cela me rejouit que tu aie fait la paix et même plus que cela avec les Bonger. Dis cela de ma part à André et serre lui la main bien cordialement pour moi.3
Que n’aurais je pas donné pour que tu eusses vu Arles lorsqu’il y fait beau, maintenant tu l’as vu en noir.
Bon courage cependant, adresse les lettres directement à moi, Place Lamartine 2. J’enverrai à Gauguin ses tableaux restés à la maison aussitôt qu’il le désirera. Nous lui devons les dépenses faites par lui pour les meubles.4
Poignée de main, je dois encore rentrer à l’hôpital mais sous peu j’en sortirai tout à fait.

t. à t.

Ecris aussi un mot à la mère de ma part, que personne ne se fasse des inquietudes.–5

My dear brother
I hope that Gauguin will also completely reassure you a little regarding painting matters.
I expect to start work again soon.
The charwoman and my friend Roulin had taken care of the house, put everything in good order.1
When I come out I’ll be able to continue on my way here again, and soon the fine days will come and I’ll start on the orchards in blossom again.2
I am, my dear brother, so heartbroken by your journey, I would have wished that you’d been spared that, for all in all no harm has come to me, and it wasn’t worth  1v:2 troubling you.
I can’t tell you how much it delights me that you’ve made peace and even more than that with the Bongers. Say so on my behalf to André, and give him a very cordial handshake from me.3
What wouldn’t I have given for you to see Arles in fine weather, now you have seen it when it’s dark.
However, be of good heart, send the letters directly to me, 2, place Lamartine. I’ll send Gauguin the paintings of his that are still at the house as soon as he wishes. We owe him the money he spent on the furniture.4
Handshake, I must go back to the hospital again, but shortly I’ll leave for good.

Ever yours,

Also write a line to Mother on my behalf, so that no one will be worried.5
1. Van Gogh was home again for the first time in two weeks, in the company of Roulin, who informed Theo that he and Vincent had spent four hours in the Yellow House. Roulin went on to write: ‘he is as gentle as a lamb’ (il est doux comme un agneau) (FR b1068). Regarding the unidentified charwoman, see letter 638, n. 17.
2. In March-April 1888 Van Gogh had made a series of paintings of orchards in blossom; see letter 600, n. 7.
3. In the second half of 1887, Theo and Andries Bonger had drifted apart, since the latter wanted nothing to do with the bohemian artists with whom Theo associated since Vincent’s arrival in Paris. See Brief happiness 1999, pp. 20-21. Andries’s wife, Annie, may also have played a role in their estrangement.
4. Gauguin had bought ‘a chest of drawers’ and ‘various household utensils’ for the Yellow House; see letter 717.
5. Theo must have informed their mother straightaway of Vincent’s condition, because she already answered his letter on 29 December from Leiden (FR b2425). This remarkable letter from Mrs van Gogh was published in its entirety, along with an English translation, in Jansen et al. 2003-2. Vincent also wrote to his mother; see letter 733.