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789 To Theo van Gogh. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Sunday, 14 or Monday, 15 July 1889.

metadata
No. 789 (Brieven 1990 792, Complete Letters 600)
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Sunday, 14 or Monday, 15 July 1889

Source status
Original manuscript

Location
Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b648 V/1962

Date
The present letter and letter 790, which were sent together, must have been written in this order on the same day. In the first line of letter 790, Van Gogh says that he is ‘writing ... again today’, and refers later on to a painting that is in the consignment announced in the present letter. Cf. also Dorn 1990, pp. 529-530.
The dating of the two letters is determinable owing to the fact that Van Gogh writes in letter 790 that he is working on Wheatfield with sheaves and rising moon(F 735 / JH 1761). He must have painted the moonrise on the evening of 13 July (see Olson et al. 2003). Because Theo already responded to the letters on 16 July (see letter 792), they must date from Sunday, 14 or Monday, 15 July 1889.

Additional
This letter and letter 790 were sent at the same time, together with a letter to Gauguin which has not survived; cf. also letter 790, n. 1.

Ongoing topic
Jo’s pregnancy (786)

original text
 1r:1
Mon cher Theo,
demain je t’enverrai petite vitesse un rouleau de toiles. Il y en a quatre c. à d. les suivantes

1 Vue d´Arles, vergers en fleur1
2 Le lierre2
3 Les lilas3
4 Maronniers roses au jardin des plantes à Arles4

qui se tiendront avec les autres que tu as déjà tels que la vigne rouge & verte,5 le jardin,6 la moisson,7 le ciel étoilé.8
J’y joins encore 7 études qui sont sèches mais qui sont plutôt des études d’après nature que des motifs de tableaux.
Et ainsi est-il toujours, il faut en faire plusieurs avant qu’on trouve un ensemble ayant de la tenue. Maintenant voici les sujets de ces 7 études.
Les iris9 – Vue de la maison de Santé à St Remy,10 toiles de 30. Pêchers en fleur (Arles),11 Prairies (Arles),12 Oliviers (St Remy),13 Vieux Saules (Arles),14 Verger en fleur.15
Maintenant le prochain envoi qui suivra sous peu sera composé surtout de champs de blé et de vergers d’oliviers.
Ainsi que tu vois j’ai été prendre à Arles ces toiles. le surveillant d’ici16 m’a accompagné. Nous avons eté chez M. Salles qui était parti en vaccances pour deux mois, puis à l’hospice pour voir M. Rey que je n’ai pas trouvé non plus. Alors nous avons passé la journée avec mes ci devant voisins17 ainsi que ma femme de menage de dans le temps18 et quelques autres.
 1v:2
On s’attache beaucoup aux gens qu’on a vus étant malade et cela m’a fait un monde de bien de revoir de certaines personnes qui ont été bons & indulgents pour moi alors. Quelqu’un m’a dit que M. Rey avait passé un examen et avait été à Paris19 mais le concierge de l’hospice disait ne pas le savoir. Je suis curieux de savoir si tu l’aurais vu car il avait projeté aller voir l’exposition et te rendre visite alors. Le médecin d’ici20 n’ira peutêtre pas à Paris, il souffre beaucoup de sa goutte.
J’ai encore reçu le second envoi de toiles & de couleurs et je t’en remercie beaucoup.21 La dernière toile que j’ai faite est une vue de montagnes avec en bas une cabane noiratre dans des oliviers.22
Je m’imagine que tu seras bien absorbé par la pensée à l’enfant à venir, je suis bien content que le cas soit tel, avec le temps j’ose croire que tu trouveras ainsi beaucoup de sérénité intérieure. Qu’à Paris on prend comme une seconde nature, qu’en outre les preoccupations d’affaires et d’art font qu’on soit moins fort que des paysans, n’empêche pas que par les liens d’avoir femme et enfant on se rattache quand même à cette  1v:3 nature plus simple et plus vraie dont l’ideal nous hante parfois.
Quelle histoire cette vente Sécretan.
Cela me fait toujours plaisir que les Millet se tiennent.23 mais combien désirerais je voir davantage de bonnes reproductions de Millet. pour que cela aille au peuple. L’oeuvre est surtout sublime considérée dans son ensemble et de plus en plus cela deviendra difficile de s’en faire une idée alors que les tableaux se dispersent.
Je regrette de ne pas pouvoir ajouter le champ de blé avec le faucheur24 à cet envoi.
Ecris moi bientôt un mot.
Poignée de main à toi et à Jo.

t. à t.
Vincent

translation
 1r:1
My dear Theo,
Tomorrow I’ll send you a roll of canvases by goods train. There are four of them, i.e. the following

1 View of Arles, orchards in blossom1
2 The ivy2
3 The lilacs3
4 Pink chestnut trees in the botanical gardens in Arles4

which will hold their own with the ones you already have, such as the red and green Vineyard,5 The garden,6 The harvest,7 The starry sky.8
I’m also enclosing another 7 studies which are dry but which are studies after nature rather than subjects for paintings.
And that’s how it always is, you have to do several of them before you find a whole with character. Now here are the subjects of these 7 studies.
The irises9 – View of the asylum at St-Rémy,10 no. 30 canvases. Peach trees in blossom (Arles),11 Meadows (Arles),12 Olive trees (St-Rémy),13 Old willows (Arles),14 Orchard in blossom.15
Now the next consignment, which will follow shortly, will consist mainly of wheatfields and olive groves.
As you can see, I’ve been to Arles to fetch these canvases. The orderly from here16 accompanied me. We went to Mr Salles’s house, who had gone away on holiday for two months, then to the hospital to see Mr Rey, whom I didn’t find either. So we spent the day with my former neighbours,17 as well as my charwoman from those days18 and a few others.  1v:2
One becomes very attached to people one has seen while ill, and it did me a world of good to see some people again who were kind and indulgent towards me then. Someone told me that Mr Rey had taken an examination and had been to Paris,19 but the porter at the hospital said he didn’t know. I’m curious to know if you might have seen him, for he had planned to go and see the exhibition and then pay you a visit. The doctor from here20 will perhaps not go to Paris, he suffers a great deal from his gout.
I’ve also received the second consignment of canvases and colours, and I thank you very much for them.21 The latest canvas I’ve done is a view of mountains with a darkish hut among olive trees at the bottom.22
I imagine that you’ll be very absorbed by thoughts of the child to come, I’m very pleased that this should be so, with time I dare believe that you’ll thus find much inner serenity. The fact that one takes on a kind of second nature in Paris, that moreover preoccupations with business and art make one less strong than the peasants, doesn’t prevent one, through the bonds of having wife and child, from reattaching oneself all the same to that  1v:3 simpler and truer nature whose ideal sometimes haunts us.
What a business, that Secrétan sale.
It always pleases me that the Millets are holding their own.23 But how I would like to see more good reproductions of Millet. So that it can reach the common folk. The body of work is above all sublime considered as a whole, and it will become more and more difficult to form an idea of it when the paintings are dispersed.
I’m sorry not to be able to add the Wheatfield with the reaper24 to this consignment.
Write me a line soon.
Handshake to you and Jo.

Ever yours,
Vincent
notes
1. Orchard in blossom with a view of Arles (F 516 / JH 1685 ).
2. Trees with ivy in the garden of the asylum (F 609 / JH 1693 ).
3. Lilacs (F 579 / JH 1692 ).
4. Avenue of chestnut trees in blossom (F 517 / JH 1689 ).
5. The green vineyard (F 475 / JH 1595 ) and The red vineyard (F 495 / JH 1626 ).
6. Probably The public garden (‘The poet’s garden’) (F 468 / JH 1578 ), which Van Gogh viewed as a pendant to Avenue of chestnut trees in blossom (F 517 / JH 1689 ). See letter 767, n. 7.
7. The harvest (F 412 / JH 1440 ).
8. Starry night over the Rhône (F 474 / JH 1592 ).
9. Irises (F 608 / JH 1691 ).
10. The garden of the asylum (F 734 / JH 1698 ).
11. La Crau with peach trees in blossom (F 514 / JH 1681 ). Its size – 65.5 x 81.5 cm – means that it is a no. 25 canvas.
12. Field with flowers under a stormy sky (F 575 / JH 1422 ). It measures 59.5 x 70 cm (slightly smaller than a no. 20 canvas).
13. This was presumably Olive grove (F 714 / JH 1858 ), measuring 49 x 63 cm (no. 15 canvas), cf. letter 780, n. 1. Less likely candidates are Olive grove (F 711 / JH 1791) and Olive grove (F 709 / JH 1760). Specifying that the first two works are ‘no. 30 canvases’ implies that the others are smaller, so he cannot be referring to the three olive groves on no. 30 canvases (F 585 , F 712 and F 715 ).
14. Road with pollard willows (F 520 / JH 1690 ), measuring 55 x 65 cm (no. 15 canvas).
15. Orchard in blossom with a view of Arles (F 515 / JH 1683 ), measuring 50.5 x 65 cm (no. 15 canvas).
16. This was possibly Charles-Elzéard Trabuc, the chief orderly who posed for Van Gogh two months later (letter 800).
17. Regarding Van Gogh’s neighbours at Arles, see letter 744, n. 6.
18. For this unidentified charwoman, see letter 638, n. 17.
19. A letter from Rey to Theo of 30 December 1888 reveals that he had to defend his doctoral thesis in Paris. See letter 736, n. 15.
20. Théophile Peyron.
21. This is the order placed in letter 783.
22. The Alpilles with a hut (F 622 / JH 1766 ).
23. Various Millets were sold at the Secrétan auction: the paintings The angelus (no. 63) and Returning from the fountain (no. 64), and the pastels Peasant watering two cows (no. 100) and The shepherdess (no. 101). They sold for 553,000 francs (to the State), 20,600, 26,000 and 25,200, respectively (see ‘Resumé du catalogue’). See auct. cat. Paris 1889 (Lugt 1938-1987, no. 48407). Cf. also letter 785, n. 8.
24. Reaper (F 617 / JH 1753 ).