Wednesday morning

My dear Theo,
Together with this letter you’re receiving the first proofs of one lithograph, Digger, and one lithograph, Coffee drinker.1
I’d very much like to know as soon as possible what impression they make on you.
I still plan to retouch them on the stone, and would like to have your opinion for that.
The drawings were better,2 I put a lot of work into the Digger especially; now various things have been lost through the transfer and printing. Yet what I think of these impressions is that there’s something rough and unabashed in them that I indeed wanted them to have, which partly reconciles me to the loss of things that were in the drawing.
The drawing was done not only with lithographic crayon; the strengths were reinforced with autographic ink as well.
Now the stone has only taken part of the autographic ink, and we don’t know exactly what to attribute this to, probably the water with which I mixed them.  1v:2
Anyway, as a result I’ve seen that where it has taken it gives good strengths of black, with which I hope to be more successful later on. Then, when the printer has time, we’re going to experiment by putting on a kind of wash during printing, and will try out various types of paper and different sorts of printing ink.
I hope that these two stones will improve further through the retouching after the two studies, done directly from the model, which I still have.
It has finally come about that a painter has been to visit me, namely Van der Weele, who stopped me in the street and whom I had also visited once.3 I have hopes that he too will try this lithographic process. I would like him to do two ploughs he has with it, painted studies (a morning and evening effect),4 and an ox-cart on the heath.5 That fellow has several beautiful things in his studio.
He wanted me to compose something from my numerous studies of orphan men, but I don’t feel ready yet.  1v:3
As you know, I wrote to you about a series of Diggers,6 now you can see a print from it.
No news yet about the letter. The people at the post office here know nothing about it and blame it on Paris.
When your last letter arrived I had to pay so much immediately, because I had waited for it for so long, that little was left.7 All the same, I again did these two lithographic trials, even though there were costs involved, because I think work offers the most hope, especially in difficult times, and intend to fight to pull through.
Today or tomorrow, however, I’ll run out of money. If it’s possible for you to do something, do it — if not, then it isn’t your fault or mine, but the days would be hard. Anyway, nonetheless, as long as we can lift up our hearts8 as high as we can and as long as we can, above melancholy or weakening.  1r:4
There’s a popular magazine here called De Zwaluw which is published by Elsevier Rotterdam supported by the Society for General Welfare.9 I’ve sometimes wondered in recent days whether they could use a digger like that, for example. 1 print a month. But it would cost me a trip to Rotterdam,10 and I’m so afraid of coming back with the message: Things are too slack, we’re not taking anything &c. Moreover, I would prefer not to do this, since I would much rather work longer until a substantial series is possible. Yet I do consider it, because I’m sometimes desperate to earn a little extra. What to do?
Even if you have no money, write anyway old chap, for I need your sympathy, and that’s no less of a support to me than the money. I hope you’ve now received the roll of lithographs with Sorrow in it and the letter.11 I mention it again to be sure, not because I already expected an answer.
It has been very cold here. Today very dark grey and dreary, which, however, does give things a rough, burred look.12
Adieu, I sincerely wish you all the best, and a handshake in thought, believe me always

Ever yours,

In the drawing of the Coffee drinker the black was much more broken by the direction of the hatching. It has now become dull, unfortunately, but this can probably be corrected.


Br. 1990: 287 | CL: 246
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: The Hague, Wednesday, 22 November 1882

1. The first of the two lithographs sent is Digger (F 1656 / JH 262 [2412]), of which four impressions are known. The other is Old man drinking coffee (F 1657 / JH 266 [2415]), three impressions of which are known. There is one copy of each with the note ‘1re épreuve’ in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
[2412] [2415]
2. The drawing on which Digger was based is not known. The basis for Old man drinking coffee [2415] was probably the drawing F 996a / JH 264 [2414]; another possibility is F 1682 / JH 263 [2413]. See Van Heugten and Pabst 1995, pp. 43-51, 91-92, cat. nos. 3 and 4; and cat. Amsterdam 1996, pp. 133-135, cat. no. 32.
[2415] [2414] [2413]
a. Means: ‘overbrengen’ (transfer of the drawing).
b. Means: ‘wassing’ (wash).
3. In December 1882 Herman Johannes van der Weele was living at Hobbemastraat 17 in The Hague (Adresboeken 1881-1883). A separate address for his studio is not given. Photos of his studio in P.A. Haaxman Jr, ‘H.J. van der Weele’, Elsevier’s Geïllustreerd Maandblad 8 (1898), vol. 16, p. 305 and exhib. cat. The Hague 2005, p. 39, where the street is given as Statenlaan. As shown by letter 287, Van der Weele’s visit took place on Sunday, 19 November 1882.
4. Van der Weele painted numerous ploughs and ox-carts with morning, afternoon and evening effects. It is not possible to identify the two ‘studies’ referred to here.
5. Ox-cart on the heath may well be Van der Weele’s Peasant on an ox cart (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum). Ill. 454 [454]. Cf. Van Gogh Museum Journal 1995, p. 207 and Hefting 1976, p. 135.
6. For the three known diggers from this period, Digger F 906 / JH 260 [2410], F 907 / JH 261 [2411] and F 908 / JH 258, see letter 281, n. 10.
[2410] [2411]
7. From this remark it is evident that Theo had again enclosed money with his letter that arrived on 16 or 17 November (see letter 283).
8. For the expression ‘lift up our hearts’ (Sursum corda), see letter 143, n. 49.
9. For the monthly De Zwaluw, see letter 278, n. 8.
10. A 3rd class return ticket from The Hague to Rotterdam would have cost Van Gogh about 1 to 1.25 guilders (Utrecht, Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum).
11. The lithograph Sorrow (F 1655 / JH 259 [2409]) was sent at the same time as letter 283.
12. Means: ‘with the burr not removed’, hence rough. For ‘non ébarbé’ see also letter 217, n. 2.
c. ‘Hachure’ is another word for hatching or shading of short lines.