My dear Theo,
I haven’t been able to write to you until now, but as I’m feeling a little better these days I didn’t want to delay wishing a happy year to you, your wife and your child, since it’s your birthday.1 At the same time, please accept the various paintings I’m sending you2 with my thanks for all the kindnesses you’ve shown me, for without you I would be most unhappy.
You’ll see that first there are canvases after Millet.3 As these aren’t destined for public viewing, perhaps you’ll make a present of them to our sisters sooner or later.4 But first you must keep the ones you consider good, and as many as you wish, they’re absolutely yours. One of these days you must send me some other things by ancient and modern artists to do, if you find any.
The rest of the canvases are meagre, I’m very much behind, not having been able to work for two months. You’ll find that the olive trees with the pink sky are the best,5 with the mountains,6 I would imagine; the first go well as a pendant to those with the yellow sky.7 As regards the portrait of the Arlésienne, you know that I’ve promised our friend Gauguin one, and you must see that he gets it.8 Then the cypresses are for Mr Aurier.9 I would have liked to redo them with a little less impasto, but I don’t have the time.
Anyway, they must be washed again several times in cold water, then a strong varnish when the impasto is dry right through, then the blacks won’t get dirty when the oil has fully evaporated. Now I would necessarily need colours, part of which you could well get from Tanguy’s if he’s hard up, or if that would please him. But of course he mustn’t be dearer than the other.
Here’s the list of colours I would need
||12 zinc white, 3 cobalt, 5 Veronese green
|1 ordinary lake
|2 emerald green, 4 chrome 1, 2 chrome 2
|1 orange lead, 2 ultramarine
Then (but from Tasset’s) 2 geranium lake, medium-sized tubes.
You would do me a service by sending me at least half of it at once, at once, for I’ve lost too much time.
Then I would need 6 brushes [sketch A]
6 fitch brushes10 [sketch B]
around these sizes, and 7 metres of canvas, or even 10.
What can I tell you of these two last months, things aren’t going well at all, I’m more sad and bored than I could tell you, and I no longer know what point I’m at.
As the order for colours is a little large, let me wait for half if that suits you better.
While I was ill I nevertheless still did a few small canvases from memory which you’ll see later, reminiscences of the north,11 and now I’ve just finished a sunlit corner of a meadow which I think is fairly vigorous.12 You’ll see it soon.
As Mr Peyron is away I haven’t yet read your letters, but I know that some have come. He has been quite kind in informing you of the situation,13 as for me I don’t know what to do or think. But I have a great desire to leave this place. That won’t surprise you, I don’t need to tell you any more about it.
Letters have also come from home, which I haven’t yet had the courage to read, so melancholy do I feel.
Please ask Mr Aurier not to write any more articles about my painting,14 tell him earnestly that first he is wrong about me, then that really I feel too damaged by grief to be able to face up to publicity. Making paintings distracts me – but if I hear talk of them that pains me more than he knows. How is Bernard? Since there are duplicates of some canvases, if you want you could do an exchange with him, because a good-quality canvas of his would look well in your collection. I fell ill at the time I was doing the almond-tree blossoms.15 If I’d been able to continue working, you can judge from that that I would have done others of the trees in blossom. Now the trees in blossom are almost finished, really I have no luck. Yes, I must try to leave here, but where am I to go? I don’t believe one can be more shut up and imprisoned in the places where they don’t pretend to leave you free, such as at Charenton or Montevergues.
If you write home, give them my warm regards and tell them I think of them often.
Then good handshake to you and Jo. Believe me
Please send me what you can find of figures among my old drawings, I’m thinking of redoing the painting of the peasants eating supper, lamplight effect.16 That canvas must be completely dark now,17 perhaps I could redo it entirely from memory. You must above all send me the women gleaning and diggers,18 if there are any left.
Then if you like I’ll redo the old tower at Nuenen19 and the cottage.20 I think that if you still have them I could now make something better of them from memory.