My dear Theo,
Here are a couple more cartes de visite to give you an idea of that decoration for Hermans — of which these are two canvases.1
Rappard is here at the moment and sends you his regards.2 He’s made a very fine study of a girl’s head and one of a farmyard, and two small ones of ox-carts.3 And various others that he’s planning should follow.
I’m working on a figure of a shepherd wearing a greatcoat — which is the same size as the woman spinning.4
And apart from that a study of two Pollard willows with the yellow leaves of poplars behind them and a view across the fields.5  1v:2
It’s extraordinarily beautiful here at the moment with the autumnal effects. In a fortnight we’ll have the real fall of the leaves — when everything that’s on the trees falls in a few days.
If I have some luck with the shepherd, it will be a figure that will have something of the very old Brabant in it. Anyway, it isn’t finished yet, and we’ll see how it turns out.
You could have dropped me a line in reply to what I wrote to you recently — it seems to me — even if it was only because it might shake up your own ideas, perhaps. For my part — despite much old and new sorrow — I have less and less doubt about my future, both as to my work and even as to myself.  1v:3
All the same, I know that I’ll have many a struggle in both respects — that both my work and I myself will meet with resistance, will make a bad impression in many cases, but not in all.
And as to my work, I become keener on it by the day, and I’m regaining my high spirits as if I were 20.
So I must see to it that I go to Antwerp sometime — often enough in the past6 I’ve sold things that authorities declared unsaleable. If I wanted to sell something in the past then it didn’t always fall through if I really wanted someone to take this thing or that.
And perhaps you’re right that I should just find a way for my work myself, and become my own dealer. Anyway.

Yours truly,


Br. 1990: 468 | CL: 382
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Nuenen, Wednesday, 22 October 1884

1. The two photographs – which have survived as ‘cartes de visite’ – are of Ploughman and a woman planting potatoes (F 172 / JH 514 [2483]) and Shepherd with flock of sheep (F 42 / JH 517 [2485]). See exhib. cat. Vienna 1996, p. 177, cat. nos. 62-63. From the former we can see that shortly after his painting of the ploughman (which is under Cottage with tumbledown barn and a stooping woman (F 1669 / JH 825 [3024]) (see letter 453, n. 10) Van Gogh must have decided to do it again and add a female figure.
[2483] [2485] [3024]
2. Van Gogh’s parents were very pleased to have Van Rappard staying with them to distract Vincent and divert his mind from his proposal to Margot. On Monday, 27 October 1884 Mr van Gogh wrote to Theo: ‘But there’s no getting away from it because of what Vincent asked Margot our relationship with people changed. They don’t come to see us because they don’t want to meet him, at least our neighbours, and we have to say that they’re right. Now that Rappard is here it is something of a distraction for Vincent’ (FR b2258).
3. Virtually no works made by Van Rappard during this stay in Nuenen are known. Portrait of a girl (Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen) may have been done in Nuenen, but it could equally well have been painted in Drenthe or Terschelling, where Van Rappard was working before he went to Nuenen. See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1974, p. 90.
4. Van Gogh mentions two paintings of women spinning: a large one measuring about 100 x 75 cm. (see letter 449 ff and 463, n. 1), and a smaller one that he wants to do after Theo has told him the size of a frame (letter 451). That plan may have resulted in the picture that is under The parsonage garden in the snow (F 194 / JH 603 [2492]). Ill. 2129 [2129]. This woman spinning measures 59 x 78 cm.
If Van Gogh is referring to the second of these here, the ‘shepherd’ could be the picture that is under Still life with a brass cauldron and jug (F 51 / JH 925 [2527]), Ill. 2130 [2130]., since the dimensions of this canvas are similar: 65.5 x 80.5 cm. This shepherd is most probably the same as the ‘large bust of a shepherd’ (letter 467, ll. 73-74). See also exhib. cat. Vienna 1996, p. 172.
[2492] [2129] [2527] [2130]
5. This study of two pollard willows is not known. Although it was previously thought that Van Gogh was talking about two studies here – the second being ‘a view across the fields’ – the description does in fact refer to a single work. See cat. Amsterdam 1999, pp. 68-69 (n. 4).
6. In the 1869-1876 period when Van Gogh was selling art at Goupil’s.