Dear brother,
I’m just writing to wish you a happy New Year, may it be a good year for you in every way and, I add egoistically, for myself as well.
Now as to me, it will perhaps not be disagreeable for you to learn that I’m installed in a studio of my own. A room and alcove, the light is bright enough, for the window is large (twice as large as an ordinary window), and it’s more or less facing south. I’ve bought furniture in true ‘village constable style’,1 as you call it, but I think that mine resembles it much more than yours, although it was you who coined the phrase. (I have real kitchen chairs, for example, and a really sturdy kitchen table.)
Mauve lent me some money, 100 guilders, to rent it, furnish it and get the window and light fixed up. This is rather a worry, you’ll understand, but anyhow it’s the only sensible way, and in the long run it’s much less expensive having one’s own things than always spending money on yet another semi-furnished room.
I’ve had a great deal of difficulty, what with finding it and then arranging the furniture in such a way that I could manage with what I had.  1v:2 But now, old chap, I have a real studio of my own and am terribly pleased with it.
I hadn’t dared hope that things would go this quickly, but now I think it superb and hope that you do too.
Listen, you know it all, my expenses will be slightly higher than they were in Etten, but let’s put our shoulders to the wheel. M. gives me much hope that I’ll soon be earning something.
And now that I’m in my own studio, it will most probably make a not unfavourable impression on some people who until now have thought that I’m merely dabbling, idling or loafing about.
I hope that you’ll be able to send me something one of these days. If I needed something urgently and asked it of Mauve, he wouldn’t refuse me, but for the time being he’s really done enough. It happens to everyone at some point in life that he has to set himself up in his own house, and although at first I couldn’t face being in debt, I do feel that it’s better this way.  1v:3
The plan is that I continue to work regularly from a model. That’s expensive, and yet it’s the cheapest way.
De Bock ultimately disappoints me, there’s something spineless about him, and he gets angry if one says certain things to him that are actually only the ABCs. He has a feeling for landscape, he sometimes manages to imbue them with a kind of charm (including the large painting he’s now working on),2 but in himself there’s nothing to get hold of. He’s too vague and too insubstantial – cotton too finely woven.3 His paintings are a shadow of an impression, and in my opinion that impression is scarcely worth repeating so often.
I won’t associate very much with the painters. I find Mauve more capable and more solid every day. And what more do I want? Theo, I’ll have to start dressing a bit better now, though. Now I know more or less the direction I must take, and can stand up for it openly, so I won’t avoid contact with people – also not follow them too much. M. and Jet send you their regards, adieu, I still have a lot to do, believe me

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 196 | CL: 167
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: The Hague, on or about Tuesday, 3 January 1882

1. The term ‘village constable style’ characterizes the sober respectability of the furniture.
2. This description is too general to be linked to a specific painting by De Bock.
3. Said about the character Tillet in La Maison Nucingen (1838) by Honoré de Balzac. See Oeuvres complètes. Paris 1879, vol 8, p. 605.