[Letterhead: Goupil Paris]

Paris, 24 July 1875

My dear Theo,
A couple of days ago we got a painting by De Nittis, a view of London on a rainy day, Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament.1 I crossed Westminster Bridge every morning and evening and know what it looks like when the sun’s setting behind Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, and what it’s like early in the morning, and in the winter with snow and fog.
When I saw this painting I felt how much I love London.
Yet I believe it’s good for me to be away from it. This in answer to your question. I certainly don’t think that you’ll be going to London.  1r:2
Thanks for ‘Aus der Jugendzeit’ and ‘Um Mitternacht’ by Rückert.2 It’s poignantly beautiful; the latter made me think of ‘La nuit de Décembre’ by Musset.3 I wish I could send it to you, but don’t have it.
Yesterday we sent a crate to The Hague, what I had promised you was in it.4
I hear that Anna and Lies are at home; I’d like to see them again. I wish you the very best, and write again soon. With a handshake

Your loving brother


Br. 1990: 039 | CL: 32
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Paris, Saturday, 24 July 1875

1. Giuseppe de Nittis sold his work through Goupil. On the basis of the sketch in the upper left-hand corner of the letter, J.G. van Gelder concluded that the work Van Gogh is referring to here is Victoria Embankment in London, 1875 (sold at auction at Sotheby’s New York, October 1989). Ill. 1729 [1729]. See Van Gelder 1974.
There is however a striking difference in viewpoint between the painting and Van Gogh’s sketch, which in this respect more closely resembles four similar works by De Nittis: Victoria Embankment in London, Westminster Bridge (I), Westminster Bridge (II) and Westminster Bridge (III). See Dini and Marini 1990, p. 397, cat. no. 542 (Victoria Embankment in London) and p. 405, cat. nos. 712-714 (Westminster Bridge I-III). Dini and Marini did not date the paintings; the date of completion is known only of Westminster Bridge (I) (1863). Moreover, Victoria Embankment in London clearly shows a sunny day, whereas Van Gogh speaks of a ‘rainy day’ (l. 11). Cf. also Caroline Igra, ‘Spatial engineer and social recorder: Giuseppe de Nittis and the development of nineteenth-century cityscape imagery’, Van Gogh Museum Journal 1998. Amsterdam 1999, pp. 94-103; esp. pp. 96-97.
[1729] [943] [52] [53] [54]
2. Rückert’s ‘Aus der Jugendzeit’ (From childhood) expresses a yearning for lost youth; ‘Mitternacht’ (Midnight) is an expression of Weltschmerz, deliverance from which is sought in God. For these poems, see Rückert 1868-1869, vol. 5, pp. 29-30 and vol. 2, pp. 465-466.
3. Alfred de Musset’s long poem, ‘La nuit de décembre’ (A night in December) is about a man who continually sees a sorrowful ghost who resembles him like a brother. At the end the ghost reveals his identity: he is Loneliness and will be the man’s companion for ever. See Musset 1957, pp. 310-315, 737-742. On p. [1r:4] of letter 31, the eighteenth stanza of ‘La nuit de Décembre’ was written by another hand. See also letter 726, n. 16.