My dear Theo,
It’s Sunday again, and again as rainy as usual. On top of that we’ve had a gale this week and the leaves are thinning out on the trees. Believe me, I’m glad that the stove is in place.1
This morning, when I at last got round to sorting out my drawings, namely the studies from the model done since about the time of your visit (not counting the older studies nor what I draw in my sketchbook), I found about one hundred. I just mention this figure because I remember that on the occasion of your visit you asked me if I had other studies as well as the drawings you saw then. I don’t know whether all painters work harder than I do, even those who look down on my work very loftily, so much so that they consider it beneath them to take the slightest notice of it. Nor do I know whether they know a better way than working with models, although in my view they do that too little, as I’ve written to you more than once, saying that I couldn’t understand why they don’t make more use of models. (Of course I do not mean people like Mauve or Israëls, although the latter sets an excellent example in my view by always working with a model, but more gentlemen like Bock and Breitner, say.) I haven’t seen anything at all of the latter since I visited him in hospital when he was ill2 — by chance I heard something about his having become a teacher at a secondary school3 — but I haven’t had the slightest sign of life from him himself.  1v:2
This week I received a letter from Rappard,4 who’s also surprised by the behaviour of many painters here, and had the experience, among other things, of having one of his paintings refused at Arti.5 I say only this: if the likes of he and I are rated as nothing, is that fair? For I assure you that he works hard; he was in Drenthe this summer, and after that he worked for a long time in the hospital for the blind in Utrecht.6
I found it curious to hear from him of several experiences that were roughly or exactly the same as my own. But anyway.
As I’ve written to you before, I often long for you. If I saw more of you and we were able to discuss the work more, I could make several things that should be possible to make from the studies I have. I’m convinced of that.
Still — you remember that not long ago I wrote (when I sent you a small scratch of a potato market): ‘I must have another go at tackling that bustle on the street’.7 The result is now some 12 watercolours that I’m working on at the moment.8 So I do not mean by the above that I can’t achieve anything with my studies or that I do them without any aim, but only that I believe I could achieve more with them and make them more immediately effective if I could discuss things with you more often.  1v:3 But be that as it may, I do work with great pleasure these days, and I do have hope that there will be some things which you too will take pleasure in, when you next come.
I believe that if one wants to do figures one must have a warm sense within oneself of what Punch in the Christmas illustration calls Good will to all, that is, that one must have a real love of people.9 At least I hope to do my best to be in that kind of a mood as much as possible.
That’s exactly why I find it such a pity that I don’t get on better with painters, and, as I wrote to you in the past, that on a rainy day like today one can’t just sit cosily by the stove, look at drawings or prints and liven each other up that way.
I must ask you whether there are cheap prints by Daumier for sale, and if so, which. I’ve always believed him to be highly gifted, but it’s only recently that I begin to suspect that he’s of even greater importance than I thought. If you know anything special about him, or know of important things among his drawings, do write about them if you will. In the past I saw caricatures by him, and perhaps because of them got an idea about him that wasn’t the right one. His figures always struck me the most, but I believe that I know only a very small part of his work and that, for instance, the caricatures are definitely not his most typical or main work.  1r:4
I remember that we talked about this last year on the road to Princenhage,10 and you said then that you thought Daumier more beautiful than Gavarni, and I took Gavarni’s side and spoke to you of the book about Gavarni that I had read and that you now have.11 But I must say that, although I still like Gavarni just as much, I begin to suspect that I know only a very small part of Daumier’s work AND THAT IN THE PART OF HIS WORK I DO NOT KNOW are the very things that would interest me most of all (however much I already appreciate what I know by him). And I also dimly remember — but I may be wrong — you telling me about large drawings, types or portraits from the common people, and I’m curious about them. If there were more things by him as beautiful as a print by him I recently found, The 5 ages of a drinker,12 or as that figure of an old man under a chestnut tree I told you about before,13 well, then he was perhaps the master of them all. Can you give me any information about this? Do you still remember the figures by Degroux from the Uylenspiegel that I had in the past but not any more, alas?14 — well, those two prints by Daumier that I just mentioned look like them —and if you know of any more like them — (I care much less about the caricatures) that’s what I’m after. I’m terribly sorry that I no longer have the Degroux and Rops.15 I gave them away in England, along with other things, to Richardson, the traveller for the house of G&Cie.16
Well, old chap, and I promise you this for when you come, apart from the watercolours and painted studies, I’ll ask you to take the trouble to look through a portfolio with one hundred drawn studies — all figures. I have them already, especially if I include some old ones. In the interval between now and your visit, however, I’ll try to make better ones to replace others that can be left out, and try to put even more variety into them. Adieu in the meantime, I sincerely wish you good fortune and happiness, and believe me, with a handshake in thought,

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 276 | CL: 239
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: The Hague, Sunday, 29 October 1882

1. For the placing of the stove, see letter 274, n. 13.
2. Van Gogh had visited Breitner in the Municipal Hospital between 21 and 28 March 1882; see letter 214.
3. During the winter course of 1882-1883 Breitner taught freehand and ornament drawing for 16 hours a week in the 2nd class of the Academy of Fine Arts and Technical Science in Rotterdam. He gave his first lesson on 5 September 1882. See Hefting 1970, p. 49 and Brieven Breitner 1970, pp. 36, 38.
4. This letter from Van Rappard is mentioned in letter 275, which was an answer to it.
5. For this refused painting, see letter 268, n. 11.
6. On Van Rappard’s work at the Institute for the Blind in Utrecht in the autumn of 1882: exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1974, pp. 79-80.
7. This unknown ‘scratch of the potato market on Noordwal’ was mentioned earlier in letter 261. In that letter of 9 September Van Gogh literally wrote: ‘where I can express the bustle of workmen I see on the street or outdoors’.
8. It is not known which watercolours these were. There is a good chance that one of them was Potato market (F 1091 / JH 252) (cf. letter 261).
9. For this Christmas print, Stirring the pudding [1369] in Punch, see letter 276, n. 1.
10. This must have been in July 1881 when Theo was in Etten; the brothers would have visited Uncle Vincent van Gogh in Princenhage – he was not very well at that time: see letters 168 and 170.
11. Jules and Edmond de Goncourt characterize Daumier as Gavarni’s ‘rival’ in Gavarni, l’homme et l’oeuvre (Goncourt 1873, pp. 230, 400).
12. For Daumier, Physiologie du buveur – Les quatre âges (The physiology of the drinker – The four ages), see letter 267, n. 33. Van Gogh has one drinker too many.
14. In the period January 1857-July 1857, Charles Degroux provided twelve illustrations with several Daumier-like figures for the satirical weekly Uylenspiegel, Journal des Ebats Artistiques et Littéraires. They are all reproduced in exhib. cat. Ypres 1995, pp. 149-152. See also letter 273, n. 37. On this magazine: Nathalie Eeckman, Uylenspiegel. Journal des ébats artistiques et littéraires (1856-1860). Rôle et conceptions littéraires. Louvain 1985.
15. For Félicien Rops’s illustrations for the magazine Uylenspiegel, see Maurice Exteens, L’Oeuvre gravé et lithographié de Félicien Rops. 5 vols. Paris 1928. Van Gogh copied Rops’s Souvenirs. En attendant la confession (Recollections. Waiting for confession) from Uylenspiegel (29 March 1857), p. 4: Old woman asleep (After Rops) (F XVII / JH -). See cat. Amsterdam 1996, pp. 51-52, cat. no. 5 and ill. 5a.
16. Van Gogh had earlier expressed his regret at having given away wood engravings in letter 267; cf. n. 8 there.