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849 To John Peter Russell. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Saturday, 1 February 1890.

metadata
No. 849 (Brieven 1990 850, Complete Letters 623a)
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: John Peter Russell
Date: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Saturday, 1 February 1890

Source status
Original manuscript

Location
New York, Guggenheim Museum. Inv. no. 78.2514T25.

Date
Van Gogh tells Theo in letter 850, dating from 1 February, that he has just written to Russell (ll. 88-89). We have therefore given the present letter the same date.

original text
 1r:1
Mon cher ami Russell
Je vous envoie aujourd’hui un petit rouleau de photographies d’après Millet1 que peutêtre vous ne connaissiez pas.
Quoi qu’il en soit c’est pour nous rappeler, mon frère et moi, à votre bon souvenir.– Savez vous que mon frère s’est marié depuis et que juste de ces jours ci il attend son premier né. Puisse cela aller bien – il a une bien brave femme hollandaise.
Que cela me fait plaisir de vous ecrire après un long silence.2  1v:2 Vous souvenez vous du temps que, simultanement presque, vous je crois le premier et moi après, rencontrâmes l’ami Gauguin. Il lutte toujours – et seul ou presque seul en brave qu’il est. Suis sûr que vous ne l’oubliez pas pourtant.
Nous sommes lui et moi encore toujours amis, je vous l’assure, mais peutetre vous n’ignorez pas que moi je suis malade et ai eu plus d’une fois des crises nerveuses graves & du délire. Cela a été cause qu’ayant dû aller dans un asile d’aliénés nous nous sommes séparés lui et moi. Mais que de fois avons nous auparavant causé de vous ensemble. Gauguin est actuellement encore avec un de mes compatriottes  1v:3 nommé de Haan et de Haan le loue beaucoup et s’en trouve pas mal d’etre avec lui.
Vous trouverez article sur des toiles de moi aux Vingtistes,3 je vous assure que moi je dois beaucoup à des choses que Gauguin me disait pour le dessin et tiens en haute, très haute estime sa façon d’aimer la nature. Car à mon avis il vaut encore mieux comme homme que comme artiste. Est ce que cela va bien chez vous? et travaillez vous toujours beaucoup?
Quoique ce ne soit pas une cause de joie d’être malade, pourtant je n’ai pas le droit de m’en plaindre car il me semble que la nature fait que la maladie est un moyen de nous redresser, de nous guérir plutôt qu’un mal absolu.
Si jamais vous venez à Paris,  1r:4 prenez si vous voulez une toile de moi chez mon frère si vous continuez l’idée de faire un jour une collection pour votre patrie.4 Vous vous rappelez que je vous en ai déja parlé, que c’était mon grand désir de vous en donner une dans ce but. Comment va l’ami Mac Knight.5 S’il est encore avec vous ou s’il y a avec vous d’autres que j’ai eu le plaisir de rencontrer, dites luia bien le bonjour pour moi. Veuillez surtout me rappeler au bon souvenir de Mme Russell et croyez moi, avec poignée de main en pensée

bien à vous
Vincent van Gogh

c/o Docteur Peyron
St Remy en Provence.

translation
 1r:1
My dear friend Russell
Today I’m sending you a little roll of photographs after Millet1 which perhaps you may not know.
In any event, it’s to recall us, my brother and myself, to your good memory. Do you know that my brother has since married and that any day now he’s expecting his first-born? May it go well – he has a very nice Dutch wife.
How it pleases me to write to you after a long silence.2  1v:2 Do you remember the time when, almost simultaneously, you I think first and I afterwards, met our friend Gauguin? He’s still struggling on – and alone, or almost alone, like the good fellow he is. Am sure, though, that you don’t forget him.
He and I are still friends, I can assure you, but perhaps you’re not unaware that I myself am ill, and have more than once had serious nervous crises and delirium. This was why, having had to go into an asylum for the insane, he and I separated. But prior to that, how many times we talked about you together! Gauguin is currently still with one of my fellow-countrymen  1v:3 called De Haan, and De Haan praises him a great deal and doesn’t find it at all bad to be with him.
You will find article on canvases of mine at the Vingtistes,3 I assure you that I myself owe a lot to things that Gauguin told me as regards drawing, and hold his way of loving nature in high, very high esteem. For in my opinion he’s worth even more as a man than as an artist. Are things going well with you? And are you still working a lot?
Although being ill isn’t a cause for joy, I nevertheless have no right to complain about it, for it seems to me that nature sees to it that illness is a means of getting us back on our feet, of healing us, rather than an absolute evil.
If you ever come to Paris,  1r:4 take one of my canvases from my brother’s place if you wish, if you still have the idea of making a collection for your native country one day.4 You’ll remember that I’ve already spoken to you about it, that it was my great desire to give you one for this purpose. How is our friend MacKnight?5 If he’s still with you, or if there are others with you whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, give them my warm regards. Above all, please remember me to Mrs Russell and believe me, with a handshake in thought,

Yours truly,
Vincent van Gogh

c/o Doctor Peyron
St-Rémy en Provence.
notes
1. From letter 850 it appears that Theo had recently sent these photographs. It is not known which works by Millet they reproduced.
2. The last time Van Gogh and Russell were known to have been in touch was September 1888. As emerges both from what follows and from letter 850, Van Gogh wanted to make another attempt to interest Russell in Gauguin’s work, with a view to carrying out the latter’s plan (expressed in letter 844) to set up a collective studio in Antwerp.
3. This was Aurier’s article ‘Les isolés: Vincent van Gogh’ (see letter 845, n. 2). Evidently Theo had sent several copies of the Mercure de France, for in letter 853 Vincent quotes it verbatim, so he must still have had a copy. We know from letter 854 that Theo had also sent L’Art Moderne. Revue Critique des Arts et de la Littérature, in which a shortened version of the article appeared. It cannot be ascertained which version of the article Van Gogh sent to Russell.
For the paintings that Van Gogh exhibited at Les Vingt, see letter 820.
4. Russell owned Van Gogh’s painting Shoes (F 332 / JH 1234) and twelve drawings that Van Gogh had sent to him from Arles. See letter 650, n. 6, and letter 654, n. 1. It is not known if he had other works by Van Gogh in his possession.
5. After his 1888 visit to Belle-Île, MacKnight returned to the Breton island in the summer of 1889, spending much time with Russell. See Bailey 2007, p. 34. See also letter 669, n. 15.
a. Read: ‘leur’.