My dear Theo,
I was longing for your letter and so I was very happy to receive it, and to see from it that you’re well, as are Jo and the friends you speak of.1
I must ask you to send me the whites I asked for as soon as possible,2 and to add to them some canvas, 5 metres or 10, whichever suits. Then I must begin by telling you a piece of rather vexing news, as I see it. It’s that during the stay here there have been a few expenses which I thought Mr Peyron had notified you about as they occurred, which he told me the other day he hadn’t done, with the result that it has mounted up to around 125 francs, deducting from it the 10 you sent by postal order.3
It’s for paint, canvas, frames and stretching frames, my trip the other day to Arles,4 a piece of linen clothing, and various repairs.
I’m using two colours here, lead white and ordinary blue, but in quite large quantities, and the canvas, that’s for when I want to work on unprepared, stronger canvas.
This comes unfortunately just at this time when I would gladly have repeated my trip to Arles etc.
That said, I’ll tell you that we’re having some superb autumn days, and that I’m taking advantage of them. I have a few studies, among others a mulberry tree, all yellow on stony ground standing out against the blue of the sky, in which study I think that you’ll see that I’ve found Monticelli’s track.5 You’ll have received the consignment of canvases I sent you last Saturday.6
It surprises me a lot that Mr Isaäcson wants to do an article on studies of mine.7 I’d willingly urge him to wait a little longer, his article would lose absolutely nothing by it, and with another year of work I could hope to put more characteristic things in front of him with more willpower in the drawing, more knowledge of the Provençal south.
Mr Peyron was very kind to talk of my case in those terms – I haven’t dared ask him to go to Arles one of these days, which I’d very much like to do, believing that he would disapprove. Not, though, that I suspected that he believed there was a connection between my previous trip and the crisis that closely followed it. The thing is that there are a few people over there whom I felt and once again feel the need to see again.
While I don’t have here in the south, like good Prévost ,8 a mistress who holds me captive, I couldn’t help becoming attached to people and things.
And now that I’m staying on here for the time being, and will most probably spend the winter here – in the spring – in the fine season, shall I not stay here too? That will depend on my health above all.
What you say of Auvers is nevertheless a very agreeable prospect to me, and sooner or later that ought to be fixed without seeking further. If I come to the north, even supposing that there’s no room in this Doctor’s home, it’s probable that he would, on père Pissarro’s recommendation and your own, find either board with a family or quite simply at the inn.9 The main thing is to know the doctor so that, in the event of a crisis, one doesn’t fall into the hands of the police and isn’t forcibly carried off into an asylum.
And I can assure you that the north will interest me like a brand-new country.
But anyway, for the moment there’s therefore nothing that’s absolutely hurrying us.
I reproach myself for being so behind with my correspondence, I’d like to write to Isaäcson, Gauguin and Bernard. But writing doesn’t always come, and what’s more, work is pressing. Yes, I’d like to say to Isaäcson that he would do well to wait longer, there isn’t yet that in it that I hope to attain if my health continues. It’s not worth mentioning anything about my work at the moment. When I’m back, at best it will form a kind of ensemble, ‘Impressions of Provence’.
But what does he want to say now when the olive trees, the fig trees, the vineyards, the cypresses must be more accentuated, all characteristic things, the same as the Alpilles, which must get more character.
How I’d like to see what Gauguin and Bernard have brought back.
I have a study of two yellowed poplars on a background of mountains,10 and a view of the park here, autumnal effect, some of the draughtsmanship of which is more naive and more – at home.11
Anyway, it’s difficult to leave a land before having something to prove that one has felt and loved it.
If I come back to the north I plan to do a whole lot of Greek studies, you know, painted studies with white and blue and only a little orange, just like in the open air.12
I must draw and seek style. Yesterday at the almoner’s here I saw a painting that made an impression on me. A Provençal lady with an intelligent, pure-bred face, in a red dress.13 A figure like the ones Monticelli thought of.
It wasn’t without great faults, but there was simplicity in it, and how sad it is to see how much they have degenerated from it here, as we have from ours in Holland.
I’m writing to you in haste so as not to wait to answer your kind letter, hoping that you’ll write again without delaying long.
I’ve seen more very beautiful subjects for tomorrow – in the mountains.
Kind regards to Jo and to our friends, above all when you get the chance thank père Pissarro for his information, which will certainly be useful.
Shaking both your hands, believe me