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830 Theo van Gogh to Vincent van Gogh. Paris, Sunday, 22 December 1889.

metadata
No. 830 (Brieven 1990 833, Complete Letters T22)
From: Theo van Gogh
To: Vincent van Gogh
Date: Paris, Sunday, 22 December 1889

Source status
Original manuscript

Location
Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. nos. b749 a-b V/1962

Date
Letter headed: ‘Paris 22 Dec_ 1889’.

Ongoing topics
Fifth consignment (paintings and drawings) from Saint-Rémy (829)
Entry for the Les Vingt exhibition in Brussels (792)
Vincent considers settling in Auvers and putting himself in the care of Dr Gachet (808)
Jo’s pregnancy (786)

original text
 1r:1
Paris 22 Dec. 1889

Mon cher Vincent,
J’ai bien reçu ton envoi du champ de blé1 & des deux chambres à coucher.2 Surtout j’aime le dernier,3 qui comme couleur est comme un bouquet de fleurs. C’est d’une intensité de couleur bien grande. Le champ de blé a peut être plus de poesie; c’est comme un souvenir de quelque chose qu’on a vu. Tangui le monte en ce moment & le 3 Janvier tout part pour Bruxelles. Maintenant j’ai quelque chose  1v:2 qui m’a fait bien plaisir. J’ai eu à la maison la visite de Mr Lauzet, le lithographe de Monticelli.4 Il venait pour voir les nôtres5 et les trouve très beaux. Pour les fleurs,6 il ne croit pas pouvoir le rendre car les planches sont monochromes et il ne croit pas pouvoir rendre la sensation de ce tableau dans une couleur. Il commence par l’Italienne.7 Mais ce qui lui plaisait surtout c’était tes toiles & tes dessins, oh mais, il les comprend. Il en avait vu depuis longtemps chez Tangui et il était vraiment content de voir tout ce que j’avais ici, en parcourant les dessins il y avait une ramasseuse de pommes8 qui lui plaisait & je lui en ai fait cadeau car je crois que tu aurais fait de même. Il  1v:3 est revenu le lendemain au magasin pour me demander s’il n’y aurait pas moyen d’avoir un autre dessin que tu as fait tout au commencement quand tu étais à St Remy. À gauche un petit bosquet d’arbres sombres contre un ciel avec un croissant de lune, à droite une barrière.9 Il me disait que ce dessin ne lui sortait pas de la tête, qu’il était plus beaux que les dessins de V. Hugo qu’il aime beaucoup etc. Je lui ai proposé de l’échanger contre un ex. de son album de Monticelli, ce qu’il a accepté toute suite.a L’album est encore loin d’être prêt mais il le terminera, Cottier & Reid ont souscrit à plusieurs exemplaires de sorte qu’il est couvert pour les frais d’impression. Il y a 16 lit. de prêt sur 25 qu’il veut faire.
 1r:4
Ce que je trouve de mieux réussi c’est la tete d’enfant que nous avons vu dans le temps chez la Roquette.10 L’artiste me semble bien sympathique. Il est du midi & a quelque chose d’Espagnol, visage pâle & barbe noire, mais en même temps quelque chose de doux comme un poete anglais. C’est bien dommage qu’il n’ait pas fait des planches à plusieurs couleurs car on ne se rend pas compte de la force de la couleur que Monticelli était un des premiers à employer en se servant d’une opposition pour obtenir de la puissance tout en restant harmonieux. Les planches que j’ai vues ressemblent à des eaux fortes sur pierre comme faisait Marvy.–11
Tu dis que tu penses quelquefois que tu aurais mieux fait en restant marchand, mais ne le dis pas. Voilà Gauguin par exemple, j’aime bien son talent & je sais12 bien ce qu’il veut, mais je ne suis pas fichu de lui vendre quoi que  2r:5 ce soit & cependant j’ai des choses de toutes sortes de lui. Le public est le plus rebel au choses qui ne sont pas faites dans un ordre parfait. Et il est évident que Goguin qui est moitié Inca moitié Européen, superstitieux comme les premiers & avancé d’idées comme certains de ces derniers, ne peut pas travailler tous les jours de même. Il est bien malheureux qu’on ne peut pas lui trouver quelque chose avec quoi il puisse vivre. Ces derniers tableaux sont moins vendables que ceux de l’année dernière.13 Il m’a écrit la semaine dernière qu’un de ses enfants est tombé d’une fenêtre & a été relevé presque mort. On espère cependant le sauver.14 Il ferait tout pour obtenir un peu d’argent mais je ne peux pas lui en procurer.
 2v:6
Pissarro aussi est aux abois. Il travaille comme un nègre. Il a fait pour Jo un bien joli eventail. Des bonnes femmes qui causent dans les champs avec dans le fond un arc en ciel,15 il n’a jusqu’à présent pas vu ce Mr d’Auvers,16 au moins il n’écrit rien à ce sujet, ce qu’il y aura de mieux sera que tu viennes chez nous au printemps & que tu ailles toi-même voir si à la campagne tu puisses trouver une pension qui te convient. Nous devons toujours être content que depuis l’année dernière à cette époque tu ailles beaucoup mieux. Je craignais alors que tu ne guérirait pas.
Nous attendons Wil pour le 2 Janv., elle restera un mois chez nous. Je suis de ton avis que je serais ravi si elle trouvait à se marier & celui qui l’aurait trouverait en elle une charmante femme.
 2v:7
Cor écrit assez souvent du Transvaal.17 La vie là-bas ne doit pas être bien amusant. Des plantes ou des fleurs il n’y en a pas. S’il n’y fait pas une chaleur torride il y pleut de façon que tout est blanc.b Les jours se ressemblent absolument, pourquoi il dit qu’il déteste les Dimanches & les autres heurres de repos. Tu sais que Isaacson devait y aller aussi mais comme ses amis à Amsterdam sont très bons pour lui & je pense que tant qu’ils le soutiendront il y restera & saura s’occuper là-bas.18 Le Transvaal n’est pas recommandable à ce que l’on en entend.– Il fait içi un temps abominable, froid & gris; presque tout le monde est malade. Comment vas tu? est-ce que  2r:8 là-bas il fait aussi froid qu’à Arles? Je suis curieux de voir tes oliviers.19 Cela peut être beau. Les tournesols20 étaient en montre chez Tangui cette semaine & faisaient très bien. Tes tableaux égaient le magasin de Tangui et le père Tangui les aime beaucoup, mais il ne vend pas plus autre chose que les tiens. J’aime beaucoup les deux dessins que tu as envoyés.21 Veux-tu que j’en envoie quelques uns à Bruxelles? Réponds moi de suite à ce sujet car il n’y aura pas de temps à perdre pour l’encadrement. Jo te dit bien des choses, elle va relativement très bien.22 J’espère que tu feras le portrait du petit ce printemps. Je te serre bien la main et j’espère que tu aura une bonne fin d’année.

à toi
Theo

Je reçois ta carte postale, les tableaux seront prêts à temps.23

translation
 1r:1
Paris 22 Dec. 1889

My dear Vincent,
I’ve safely received your consignment of the Wheatfield1 and the two Bedrooms.2 Above all I like the last one,3 which in terms of colour is like a bouquet of flowers. It has a very great intensity of colour. The Wheatfield perhaps has more poetry; it’s like a memory of something one has seen. Tanguy is mounting it at the moment, and on 3 January everything is leaving for Brussels. Now I have something  1v:2 that gave me great pleasure. I was visited at home by Mr Lauzet, Monticelli’s lithographer.4 He came to see ours,5 and considers them very fine. As regards the flowers,6 he doesn’t think he can render them, as the prints are monochrome and he doesn’t think he can render the feeling of this painting in one colour. He’s starting with the Italian woman.7 But what pleased him above all was your canvases and your drawings, oh but he understands them. He’s been seeing them for a long time at Tanguy’s, and he was really pleased to see all that I had here, while going through the drawings there was a woman picking up apples8 that he liked, and I made him a present of it, for I think you’d have done the same. He  1v:3 came back to the shop the next day to ask me if there wouldn’t be some way of having another drawing you did right at the beginning when you were at St-Rémy. On the left a little thicket of dark trees against a sky with a crescent moon, on the right a gate.9 He told me that he couldn’t get this drawing out of his mind, that it was finer than the drawings of V. Hugo, which he likes a great deal etc. I suggested that he exchange it for a copy of his Monticelli album, which he accepted immediately. The album is still far from being ready but he will finish it, Cottier and Reid have put their names down for several copies so he’s covered for the printing costs. There are 16 lithographs ready out of 25 he wants to do.  1r:4
What I consider the most successful thing is the head of a child we saw once at La Roquette’s.10 The artist seems very sympathetic to me. He’s from the south and has something of the Spaniard about him, pale face and black beard, but at the same time something gentle like an English poet. It’s a great pity he hasn’t done any prints in several colours, for one doesn’t realize the strength of the colour that Monticelli was one of the first to employ by using an opposition to obtain power while remaining harmonious. The prints that I’ve seen resemble etchings on stone like Marvy did.11
You say that you sometimes think that you would have done better by remaining a dealer, but don’t say that. Look at Gauguin for example, I do like his talent and I’m well aware12 of what he wants, but I haven’t managed to sell anything  2r:5 whatsoever of his, and yet I have all kinds of things by him. The public is most rebellious towards things that aren’t done in perfect order. And it’s evident that Gauguin, who is half Inca, half European, superstitious like the former and advanced in ideas like certain of the latter, can’t work every day in the same way. It’s most unfortunate that we can’t find something he can live from. These latest paintings are less saleable than last year’s.13 He wrote to me last week that one of his children fell out of a window and was picked up almost dead. There is hope, though, of saving it.14 He’d do anything to obtain a little money, but I can’t procure any for him.  2v:6
Pissarro, too, is at bay. He works like a negro. He made a very pretty fan for Jo. Women chatting in the fields with a rainbow in the background,15 up to now he hasn’t yet seen this gentleman from Auvers,16 at least he writes nothing about the subject, the best thing will be for you to come to us in the spring and go yourself to see if you can find lodgings that suit you in the country. We must in any case be pleased that you’re much better than you were this time last year. Then I feared that you might not recover.
We’re expecting Wil on 2 Jan., she’ll stay a month with us. I share your opinion that I’d be delighted if she could see her way to marrying, and the man who had her would find a charming wife in her.  2v:7
Cor writes quite often from the Transvaal.17 Life down there can’t be much fun. There are no plants or flowers. If the heat isn’t torrid, it rains so much that everything is flooded. The days are all absolutely alike, which is why he says he detests Sundays and other time off. You know that Isaäcson was to go there too, but as his friends in Amsterdam are very kind to him, and I think that as long as they support him he’ll stay there and will be able to occupy himself over there.18 The Transvaal isn’t to be recommended, from what one can gather. Here the weather is abominable, cold and grey; almost everybody is ill. How are you? Is it  2r:8 as cold down there as in Arles? I’m curious to see your Olive trees.19 They can be beautiful. The Sunflowers20 were on show at Tanguy’s this week and made a very good effect. Your paintings cheer up Tanguy’s shop, and père Tanguy likes them a lot, but he no longer sells anything but yours. I very much like the two drawings you sent.21 Do you want me to send some to Brussels? Reply immediately on this subject, for there’s no time to lose for the framing. Jo sends her warm regards, she’s very well, relatively speaking.22 I hope that you’ll do the little one’s portrait this spring. I shake your hand firmly, and hope that you’ll have a good end to the year.

Yours,
Theo

I received your postcard, the paintings will be ready in time.23
notes
1. Wheatfield at sunrise (F 737 / JH 1862 ).
2. The bedroom (F 482 / JH 1608 ) and The bedroom (F 484 / JH 1771 ).
3. In mentioning ‘the last one’, Theo is referring to the repetition of the bedroom: The bedroom (F 484 / JH 1771 ).
4. Lauzet was working on the edition of lithographs Adolphe Monticelli; see letter 825, n. 7.
5. Vincent and Theo owned five works by Monticelli; see letter 578, n. 5.
6. For Monticelli’s Vase of flowers , see letter 578, n. 4.
7. Adolphe Monticelli, Italian girl, c. 1879 (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum). Ill. 2302 .
8. There is no known drawing depicting a woman picking up apples. Theo is presumably referring to ‘ramasseuse de pommes de terre’, in which case this might refer to Woman lifting potatoes (F 1272 / JH 910). However, the early provenance of this work is unknown.
9. There is no known drawing that fits this description.
a. Read: ‘tout de suite’.
10. Theo means Auguste Marie Lauzet’s lithograph Head of a child, no. 17 in the publication Adolphe Monticelli. The painting which served as the model for the print has not been traced; the caption says that at the time the print after it was made, the painting was in the possession of Mr Bagnard. Ill. 2303 .
‘La Roquette’ refers to Evelina Delarebeyrette or her son Gabriel Delarebeyrette. The gallery they ran together sold many Monticellis. For the nickname ‘La Roquette’, see letter 600, n. 14.
11. Regarding Marvy’s technique, see letter 825, n. 8.
12. It is possible that Theo wrote ‘sens’ instead of ‘sais’.
13. Theo had recently received two consignments of paintings from Gauguin in Brittany; see letter 799, n. 10 and letter 813, n. 11. Theo was less enthusiastic about these recent paintings than he had been about the paintings sent from Brittany the year before, several of which he had managed to sell. See letter 704, n. 1 and letter 722, n. 1.
14. On about 16 December Gauguin wrote to Theo about the accident that his eight-year-old son Jean-René had had in Copenhagen: ‘One of my boys fell from the 3rd floor. He was picked up in a terrible state and at the moment he’s in the hospital, more or less out of danger.’ (Un de mes garçons est tombée du 3em étage. On l’a relevé en capilotade et il est à l’hôpital a peu près sauvé en ce moment.) See Gauguin lettres 1983, p. 177 (GAC 23).
15. Figures in a meadow, 1889 (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum). Ill. 312 . The fan was a present from Pissarro to Jo. See Correspondance Pissarro 1980-1991, vol. 2, pp. 312-313 (letter 557) and Jampoller 1986, p. 52.
16. Dr Paul Gachet.
17. Only one letter from Cor in South Africa has been preserved from this period (FR b838, 20 October 1889).
b. Read: ‘inondé’.
18. For Isaäcson’s plans to go to the Transvaal, see letter 811, n. 2. It could not be ascertained which Amsterdam friends of Isaäcson Theo is referring to here.
19. In letter 829 Vincent had written that he had a ‘half-dozen’ studies of olive groves.
20. Sunflowers in a vase (F 454 / JH 1562 ) and Sunflowers in a vase (F 456 / JH 1561 ). Van Gogh intended to submit these two canvases to the exhibition of Les Vingt (see letter 820, n. 2).
21. For these two drawings, Wheatfield at sunrise (F 1552 / JH 1863) and The garden of the asylum (F 1545 / JH 1851), see letter 829, n. 9.
22. Andries wrote several days later to his parents: ‘Later Net [Jo] and Theo are coming to have lunch with us. Net seems in fine fettle and Theo has regained his strength’ (FR b1850, 25 December 1889).
23. This postcard is not known. Vincent must have asked Theo how the framing of the paintings for Brussels was coming along.