My dear Theo,
As a letter is going to you again, I’m enclosing a word in it.1 I sincerely hope that you’re doing well and will be able to find half an hour to write to me again.
I want to tell you what I’ve done since I last wrote to you.
First of all, two large drawings (chalk and some sepia) of Pollard willows, something like the sketch below.2

Also the same, but vertical, of Leurseweg.3 Then I had a model a couple of times, digger4 and basket-maker.5
And then last week I got a box of paints from Uncle Cent that is rather good, certainly good enough to start with (the paint is from Paillard).6 And I’m very glad to have it.

I’ve just tried making a kind of watercolour, like the above motif.7  1v:2
I count myself very lucky to be able to get models, I’m also searching around for a horse and donkey.8
That thick Ingres paper9 is especially good for drawing with watercolour, and a great deal cheaper than other paper.
Still, there’s no particular hurry, because I have some on hand, but unfortunately plain white brought from The Hague.
Anyway, you see that I’m hard at work. Uncle Cent will be going to The Hague tomorrow and will most likely speak with Mauve again about when I should next visit him.
And now adieu, have walked far today and am surprisingly tired, but didn’t want the letter to leave without enclosing something.10
I wish you well, and accept a handshake in thought.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 173 | CL: 151
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Etten, beginning of October 1881

1. The enclosed letter from Mr and Mrs van Gogh is no longer extant.
2. Drawings similar to letter sketch A are not known.
3. This drawing of a pollard willow is not known.
4. Because the letter closes with a sketch of a digger (letter sketch C), Van Gogh must be referring to the corresponding drawing: Digger (F 866 / JH 54 [2347]). See cat. Amsterdam 1996, pp. 96-98, cat. no. 21.
5. There are no known drawings of basket-makers.
6. Jacques Michel Paillard was a paint dealer and manufacturer in Paris; his shop was located at Faubourg St Denis 132 (Almanach du commerce de Paris 1886 and AP, Listes électorales, 9e arrondissement; Calepins du cadastre).
7. There is no known watercolour displaying a composition comparable to that of letter sketch B (Farmhouses on the road with trees).
8. The only drawing made in Etten in which one of these animals occurs is Donkey and cart (F SD1677 / JH 52), though it is uncertain whether that drawing dates from this time. Van Heugten dates the drawing to October 1881 but leaves open the possibility of a dating to c. May 1881 (cat. Amsterdam 1996, pp. 93-95, cat. no. 20).
9. The thicker kind of ‘Ingres paper’, which he had bought at Stam’s (see letter 171).
10. This could refer either to the letter (which Van Gogh enclosed with one from their parents (l. 2) or to the sketches he sent, which Theo subsequently commented upon (cf. letter 175).