[Letterhead: Strand London]

6 April 1875

My dear Theo,
Thanks for your letter. Didn’t I copy out Meeresstille by Heine in your little book?1 Some time ago I saw a painting by Thijs Maris2 that reminded me of it.3
An old Dutch town with rows of brownish red houses with step-gables and tall flights of steps, grey roofs, and white or yellow doors, window-frames and cornices; canals with ships and a large white drawbridge, a barge with a man at the tiller going under it. The little house of the bridge-keeper, whom one sees through the window, sitting in his office.
Some distance away a stone bridge over the canal, with people and a cart with white horses crossing it.
And everywhere movement, a porter with  1v:2 his wheelbarrow, a man leaning against the railing, gazing into the water, women in black with white caps.
The foreground a quay with paving-stones and a black railing.
In the distance a tower rises above the houses.
A greyish white sky over everything.
It’s a small painting, upright. The subject is nearly the same as the large J. Maris, Amsterdam,4 which you perhaps know, only this is talent and the other is genius.
I’ve again copied out one or two things for you, which I’ll send when I get the chance.
Think of ‘The cliff’5 and whether you know of anything else. That Victor Hugo piece is beautiful.6 Adieu, give my regards to Pa if you see him.7



Br. 1990: 031 | CL: 24
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: London, Tuesday, 6 April 1875

1. Regarding the poetry album Vincent made for Theo, cf. letter 29, n. 1. The album contained nine poems by Heinrich Heine, including the poem ‘Meeresstille’ (Calm sea) mentioned here, all copied from Buch der Lieder (1827). See Pabst 1988, pp. 33-37.
2. Matthijs Maris, Souvenir d’Amsterdam (The Nieuwe Haarlemse Sluis on Singel), 1871 (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum). Ill. 1702 [1702]. Maris painted this little panel (46.5 x 35 cm) after a stereoscopic photo of Amsterdam’s Haarlemmersluis. In 1872 it was in the hands of the art dealer Daniel Cottier in London, where Van Gogh may have seen it. See Heijbroek 1975, pp. 279-281.
3. Here Van Gogh seems to be mistaken in associating ‘Meeresstille’ with Maris' s painting, because ‘Seegespenst’ (Sea monster) is more reminiscent of this work. In Buch der Lieder it immediately follows ‘Meeresstille’, another poem of which Van Gogh copied excerpts for Theo. Cf. Heinrich Heine, Buch der Lieder. Ed. Pierre Grappin. Hamburg 1975 (Historisch-kritische Gesamtausgabe der Werke. Ed. Manfred Windfuhr). ‘Meersesstille’: vol. 1.1, pp. 382-383, 384-389 and vol. 1.2, pp. 1028-1032.
Van Gogh also copied poems from Buch der Lieder into a little book intended for Matthijs Maris (Haarlem, Teylers Museum). See Pabst 1988, pp. 38-59, esp. 45-51.
4. It cannot be said with certainty which version of Jacob Maris’s View of the Schreierstoren Van Gogh had in mind. Maris made a number of them from 1872 onwards. (See exhib. cat. Paris 1983, p. 213, cat. no. 62 and Peter C. Sutton, Northern European paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia 1990, pp. 194-195, cat. no. 67.) The depiction in the version in The Hague (Kunstmuseum) comes close, at least as regards subject matter, to the painting by Matthijs Maris, View of the Schreierstoren, Amsterdam. Ill. 1703 [1703].
6. This refers to something that Theo must have written about or sent.
7. Mr van Gogh planned to visit Theo soon. Lies wrote to Theo: ‘How nice it was for you that Pa came to see you’ (FR b2330, 11 April 1875).