1. Vincent owed Dr Peyron 125 francs; see letter 808.
2. The painter Isaac Israëls, the son of Jozef Israëls, spent five weeks in Paris in September-October 1889. See Isaac Israëls. Hollands Impressionist. Saskia de Bodt et. al. Exhib. cat. Rotterdam (Kunsthal), 1999-2000. Schiedam and Rotterdam 1999, p. 15.
3. The painter and art critic Jan Pieter Veth had close ties to writers and artists associated with the modern Dutch magazine De Nieuwe Gids. His polemical articles were aimed at the older generation of critics and the prevailing artistic norms. His opinion of an art work was based on the feelings it aroused in him.
Critics of the old guard, such as Carel Vosmaer, strongly objected to such articles, opposing both the modern ideas they expressed and the impressionistic use of language. Henri Borel fulminated: ‘The Nieuwe Gids men are nasty, offensive people, who write about things that are done but never spoken of. They invent only crazy words. They speak of blue sounds and yellow tones. It’s incomprehensible. One should simply write Dutch. It’s all nonsense. They are eccentric, only in order to draw attention to themselves. They’re revolting. They don’t know their own language. They’re clowns. They’re imitators of Zola and write only about foul things.’ See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1991; Fusien Bijl de Vroe, De Schilder Jan Veth 1864-1925. Chroniqueur van een bewogen tijdperk. Amsterdam and Brussels 1987; Nop Maas, ‘Nevel en wind. Enkele reacties op De Nieuwe Gids oktober 1885 - mei 1886’, Jaarboek van de Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde te Leiden, 1983-1984. Leiden 1985, pp. 13-27 (quotations on pp. 20, 13-14).
4. Regarding the artists’ society Les Vingt, see letter 580, n. 6. Theo van Rijsselberghe had been part of Les Vingt since its founding in 1883.
Irises (F 608 / JH 1691 ).
The Tarascon stagecoach (F 478a / JH 1605 ).
Marcelle Roulin (F 441 / JH 1641). This version was in Theo’s possession; see letter 774, n. 5.
Trees with ivy in the garden of the asylum (F 609 / JH 1693 ). The designation ‘upright’ is meant to distinguish it from the paintings of ivy in horizontal format, of which Theo had in any case already received Trees with ivy in the garden of the asylum (F 746 / JH 1762 ); see letter 806.
Starry night (F 612 / JH 1731 ).
The Alpilles with a hut (F 622 / JH 1766 ). Van Gogh gave it the title ‘the mountain’ (see letter 805).
11. Gauguin had probably sent his consignment of paintings shortly before leaving Pont-Aven for Le Pouldu on 2 October. It certainly contained The green Christ (Breton Calvary) (W328) and possibly Young Breton (W316), The yellow Christ (W327), Nude Breton boy (W339), Swineherdess (W354) and Breton boy tending geese (W367). See Gauguin lettres 1983, p. 147 (n. 4).
Theo was not enthusiastic about Gauguin’s recent paintings, as evidenced by a long letter from Gauguin to Theo, written on 20 or 21 November 1889, in which he speaks of ‘the storm raised by my last canvases’ and after giving a detailed explanation of the meaning of his art, remarks: ‘Do you have better news of Vincent? I’m sorry he isn’t sometimes there near you, to give you a little guidance on painting. You hear too many different opinions’. (Avez-vous de meilleures nouvelles de Vincent. Je regrette qu’il ne soit pas là quelquefois près de vous pour vous guider un peu dans la peinture. Vous entendez trop de voix différentes). See Gauguin lettres 1983, pp. 148-175 (quotation on p. 175; GAC 22).
12. In the spring Guillaumin had left for Agay on the Mediterranean, and had travelled from there to Pontgibaud in the Auvergne, where his wife’s family lived. In the nearby village of Peschadoire he painted a number of landscapes. See Armand Guillaumin 1841-1927: un maître de l’Impressionnisme français. François Daulte. Exhib. cat. Lausanne (Fondation de l’Hermitage). Lausanne 1996, p. 72.
13. Pissarro had probably travelled on 10 October 1889 from Paris to Eragny-par-Gisors; this can be inferred from a letter he wrote to his son Georges on 9 October 1889. See Correspondance Pissarro 1980-1991, vol. 2, p. 304.