My dear friend Rappard,
Just as I was on my way to the printer1 I ran into the postman, who gave me your letter. Please accept my sincerest thanks for your proposal, which I’ll write about shortly. First I wanted to tell you that I’m now on my fourth stone, and am sending you herewith impressions of the three you don’t have;2 I’ll retouch two of them, namely the digger and the coffee drinker. The latter worked much better as a drawing.3 In the lithograph I used autographic ink that hasn’t transferred well, and much of the briskness that was in the drawing has been lost. There was also more life in the black, because the hatching conveyed the direction and form of the folds much better. Now the same is true of the digger,4 but in this print there is in general a certain strength and roughness that corresponds with the character of the figure, though I would have liked to have more variety of tone. Now I’m trying to find a way of combining the new process (transferring a drawing on paper) with the old (working directly on the stone itself).  1v:2
You remember that drawing Worn out?5 In the last few days I’ve done it again no fewer than three times6 with two models, and will labour on it some more. For the present I have one that will be the subject of a fifth stone, which thus depicts an old working man who sits and ponders with his elbows on his knees and his head (a bald crown this time) in his hands. I’m telling you this and that about the lithographs to show that I’m very enthusiastic about them, and so your proposal as regards the lost money is most welcome to me.7
The letter still hasn’t been found, and contained a fifty-franc note. For the time being, though, let’s wait a little longer; it’s being investigated. I told the man at the printer’s about the accident, and so far he’s been good enough not to press me about the costs of the stones. For that matter, the stones are in his hands and he runs no risk, or very little. So as to your proposal — in an emergency I’d very much like to avail myself of it, and it’s a  1v:3 helping hand for me and I dare to go a few steps further, but it may not be necessary and the letter may turn up. It’s most certainly an encouragement to redouble my efforts, and to prove to you that I put a lot of work into it: I drew the digger in 12 different poses and am still searching for better ones.
He’s a splendidly fine model, a real veteran digger. Last Sunday I had Van der Weele, painter and also drawing master at the high school here,8 and he saw the various drawings of orphan men and urged me to make a large composition with them, although I would consider that premature as yet, I need to have even more studies. The coffee drinker is one of them.
Herewith a woodcut after Frank Holl.9 This brings me to what you say about a batch of magazines you’ve bought.
I congratulate you on them. 70-76 is precisely the finest period, at least for the English above all.10 The Black and White11 was then in full bloom and in its prime. I’m sure there must be superb things among them.  1r:4
I’ll tell you why it matters a very great deal to me to make an effort with the lithographs. If I can manage to assemble a number of good stones (one or two are bound to go wrong now and again!), this will enable me to apply for work, in England, for example, as well. It goes without saying that one has more chance of success if one can immediately show work, for instance by sending proofs of lithographs, than if one has to get by with words alone. Sending drawings isn’t an alternative, since they can easily be lost. This new process enables me to work for a lithographic printer far away without having to send stones. Just today I bought myself a new kind of ink and a new kind of crayon (copal crayon)12 for this purpose.
My address these days is No. 136 Schenkweg.13 I would like to have your opinion about these proofs I’m sending. If it’s possible for me to rectify mistakes I’ll happily do so. Still, one has to be careful once something has been put on, and can’t control everything. I believe that the new Worn out will give you some pleasure — I hope to tackle the stone of it tomorrow.
Well, my paper is full — don’t think, although I write only about professional matters, that your illness is of no concern to me. On the contrary, it gave me all the more food for thought because last summer I also caught a cold, also had quite a high fever and — and — I only hope that it isn’t the same, though. Whatever the case may be, my cordial wishes for your recovery, and believe me, with a handshake,

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 289 | CL: R18
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Anthon van Rappard
Date: The Hague, Friday, 24 November 1882

1. The printer Smulders in Spuistraat.
2. Van Rappard already had one lithograph, probably Old man (F 1658 / JH 256 [2408]), and otherwise Sorrow (F 1655 / JH 259 [2409]); for this uncertainty, see letter 284, n. 3. In any case he received the others with this letter and Digger (F 1656 / JH 262 [2412]) and Old man drinking coffee (F 1657 / JH 266 [2415]) as well.
[2408] [2409] [2412] [2415]
3. The model drawing for the lithograph was probably Old man drinking coffee (F 996a / JH 264 [2414]), or F 1682 / JH 263 [2413]. See letter 285, n. 2.
[2414] [2413]
a. ‘Hachure’ is another word for hatching or shading of short lines.
4. The model drawing for the lithograph Digger [2412] is not known.
5. Man sitting by the fireplace (‘Worn out’) (F 863 / JH 34 [2345]).
6. Two drawings connected to the lithograph ‘At eternity’s gate’ (F 1662 / JH 268 [2417]) are known: ‘Worn out’ (F 997 / JH 267 [2416]), which was the immediate model for the lithograph, and Study for ‘Worn out’ (F - / JH -). The study with the other model remains unknown, see also letter 286, n. 3. The compositionally different Sorrowful old man (F 998 / JH 269) was probably made somewhat later, see Otterlo 2007, pp. 172-4.
[2417] [2416] [436]
7. In letter 289 Van Gogh says a little more about the nature of the proposal. When Van Rappard learned (through a letter that is no longer known) that the loss of the letter with money would put an end to the lithographic experiments, he replied: ‘don’t let that hold you back, and count on me if you can’t carry on or need something’ (ll. 7-8).
8. Herman van der Weele was a teacher at the secondary school in The Hague and at the Ambachtsschool (technical school).
9. It is not known which engraving after Francis Montague Holl was enclosed.
10. Van Rappard’s example may have encouraged Van Gogh to buy a large collection of The Graphic just over a month later; see letters 302 ff.
11. In this context Black and White is the term applied to the engraved magazine illustrations such as those published in The Graphic and The Illustrated London News.
b. Means: ‘komt niet in aanmerking’ (is not feasible).
12. The hardest types of lithographic crayon are called ‘copal’ because copal, a fossil resin, is added to them.
13. Van Gogh had been living at this address since July 1882 (see letter 243). Perhaps Van Rappard was still sending letters to the old address (at number 138), although in letter 256 to Van Rappard Van Gogh talked about the ‘new studio’.