My dear Theo,
I suppose you already know that Pa has turned down Helvoirt.
The people here gave Pa a present of about 200 guilders, that’s most kind and I’m pleased for them.1
The decision wasn’t a matter of indifference to me — since I wouldn’t have gone with them to H. in any case, and would either have stayed here in my studio — or would have left for Antwerp. Now — as far as I can see, the best thing for me is simply to carry on as things are — and stay here. It has truly not been going too badly for me lately. It’s true that I can’t make anything financially from my work here — but I’m making really good friends here — and I believe they’ll become even better.
Last week I painted still lifes day in and day out2 with the people who are painting in Eindhoven. The new acquaintance — the tanner — whom I told you about, is really doing his best.
But for my part, I also have to do something to keep on good terms with them.
But I can’t see that I lose by it, since I work more enjoyably because I have some conversation.  1v:2
Hermans has so many beautiful objects — like old jars and other antiques — that I wanted to ask you whether I could oblige you by painting a still life for your room of some of these objects — Gothic things, for instance.3
The ones I’ve been making with Hermans so far are simpler. But just today he said to me that if I ever want to make a painting for myself of things that are still too difficult for him to do as a study, I can take the objects with me to the studio. Please let me have an answer to this — and if you would like it, I’ll make it for you and shall select really nice things.
By the way, I’ve already finished a small one.4
Now, as to what I asked you about covering the end of this month if possible by sending me 20 francs extra, I wish you could do that.
It’s getting better for me — although my expenses aren’t getting any smaller — but we’re definitely making progress just by working very hard now. So help me with what I asked  1v:3 if it’s at all feasible for you. Because otherwise it will soon become very difficult, and the work will suffer more than necessary.
And I’ll give it back to you with my work. That’s all I can say about it.
At all events I’ll ask Hermans for those objects — and make something for you with them — you’ll see for yourself what I told you about the colour, that it’s getting better.
I’m also working on a watercolour of the water mill.5
Regards, with a handshake.

Yours truly,

Cor was unwell for a few days, and at home6 — but he’s better now.
I know that it’s a difficult time for you — but we must progress and it will change a little for the good — you’ll see.


Br. 1990: 473 | CL: 387
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Nuenen, on or about Monday, 24 November 1884

1. Mr van Gogh had received a call to serve in Helvoirt (see letter 469). He wrote to Theo: ‘We did write to you about the gift that the congregation gave me when I turned down Helvoirt; 210 guilders in a wallet so I can choose for myself?’ (FR b2263, 9 December 1884).
2. There are nine known still lifes dating from the period November 1884-April 1885. Cf. cat. Amsterdam 1999, pp. 78-83, cat. no. 9.
3. By ‘Gothic things’ Van Gogh must be referring to old-fashioned, typical artefacts and objects, possibly in the gothic style; later in the letter he talks of ‘really nice things’ (l. 45). A number of items from Hermans’s collection are listed in cat. Amsterdam 1999, p. 81, n. 12.
4. The nine smaller still lifes from this period all measure about 30 x 40 cm, which makes it difficult to determine which one Van Gogh meant. In view of the ‘antiquities’ depicted in them and the stylistic similarities, Vellekoop links this point in the text with F 52 / JH 535; F 58 / JH 531; F 64 / JH 537 and F 178r / JH 528. See cat. Amsterdam 1999, pp. 81-82, and n. 12.
[442] [959] [961]
5. Water mill at Gennep (F 1144a / JH 523 [2489]).
6. Their brother Cor had been apprenticed to Egbert Haverkamp Begemann’s machine works in Helmond; he was also boarding there: see letter 443, n. 3.