My dear Theo,
Thanks much for your letter of the day before yesterday, and for the 50-franc note it contained. I waited for the consignment of colours and canvas from Tasset, which has just arrived,1 and for which I also thank you very much, to answer the question regarding the difference between Tanguy and Tasset colours. Well, it’s absolutely the same thing, in the Tasset tubes there are some from time to time, especially for the white, that aren’t filled properly. However, when Tanguy for his part also fills them badly too, — certainly without doing so deliberately – the tubes of cobalt, for example like the one I have in my hands – so I’m talking only based on the same fact that exists on both sides – I just don’t see why one would have any very serious things to reproach the other with.
Is there a difference in the invoices? That’s what would interest me more. And then in the colours there is adulteration as in wines. How can one judge correctly when, like myself, one knows nothing of chemistry. I’d nevertheless consider it very good that, should père Tanguy be going to extraordinary lengths for us by putting his time and his effort into packing up and dispatching the canvases that are in his attic,2 then you should get paint from him, even if it’s a little worse than the other. It would only be fair.
But what he says about a difference in the tubes, I repeat, it’s pure imagination on his part. And the reason why we went to Tasset’s is that the latter’s colours are in general less insipid.3 Now this difference isn’t important, and if Tanguy has the good will to pack up the canvases stored at his place – fair that he has the order for the colours.
It was with pleasure that I made the acquaintance of the Dutchman, who came yesterday.4 He looks much too nice to be doing painting in the current conditions. If he nevertheless persists in wanting to do it I told him that he would do well to go to Brittany with Gauguin and De Haan, because he’ll live there on 3 francs a day instead of 5 francs, and will have good company. That I myself also hope very much to join them, since Gauguin is going there. I was really pleased to learn that they’re going to renew their attempt there. Certainly you’re right that it’s better for Gauguin than staying in Paris. Very pleased, too, that he likes the head of that Arlésienne.5 I really hope to do a few etchings of subjects from the south, let’s say 6, since
1v:3 I can print them free of charge at Mr Gachet’s; he’s very willing to run them off for nothing if I do them. It’s certainly a thing that must be done, and we’ll act in such a way that in some way it forms a sequel to the Lauzet-Monticelli publication, if you approve.6 And Gauguin will probably engrave a few of his canvases in combination with me. His painting which belongs to you,7 and especially for the rest of the Martinique things.
Which plates Mr Gachet will also print off for us. Of course we’ll leave him free to run off copies for himself. Mr Gachet will come one day to see my canvases in Paris, and then we’d choose the ones to be engraved. At the moment I have two studies on the go – one a bouquet of wild plants, thistles, ears of wheat, leaves of different types of greenery. One almost red, the other very green, the other yellowing.8
The second study a white house amid greenery with a star in the night sky and an orange light at the window and dark greenery and a sombre pink note.9
That’s all for the moment. I have an idea for doing a more important canvas of Daubigny’s house and garden, of which I already have a small study.10
I was really pleased that Gauguin is going off with De Haan again. Naturally this Madagascar plan seems to me hardly possible to carry out, I would much prefer to see him leave for Tonkin.11 If, however, he went to Madagascar I’d be able to follow him there. For one should go there in twos or threes. But we aren’t there yet. Certainly the future is very much in the tropics for painting, either in Java or in Martinique, Brazil or Australia, and not here, but you feel that it hasn’t been proved to me that you, Gauguin or I are those people of that future. But certainly once again, there and not here, one day, probably soon, one will see Impressionists working who will hold their own with Millet, Pissarro. Believing in that is natural, but going there without the means of existence or a relationship with Paris, a mad impulse when for years on end one has rusted away while vegetating here. Well. Thanks again, and good handshake to you and your wife, and good health to the little one, whom I’m really longing to see again.