My dear Theo,
I wanted to add to my letter of the day before yesterday1 that I had a letter from Rappard yesterday, and our quarrel is wholly made up, that he sent me a croquis of a large painting of a brickworks that he’s working on.2 This looks very original — if one wanted to find other paintings in the same spirit, it would be Meunier, say, whose mine-workers you saw in Antwerp.3 He’s rented a small house outside Utrecht, just as a studio (and arranged for light from above) near the brickworks,4 and since he’s also going back to Terschelling he’s deep in nature again, and to my mind that’s better than working in town.
I wanted to tell you, though, that I hope that the quarrel that we have will end like this, too, and that it will be settled.  1v:2 No more than I can5 accept his criticism, can I fully resign myself to the present situation in which my work is held up so badly by my financial difficulties. I don’t ask you to put this right alone, but I simply want us to do our best together (and not just I alone either) to make headway. It’s an effort for you, too, and not easy; I know that, and as such I appreciate it very much, but making an effort for a goal is no misfortune, and having to fight is the precondition for every honest victory.
The expenses of painting can’t always be avoided, and not incurring them is sometimes not the best policy, because nothing decent could come of it if one hesitated to pay for models or essential painting materials. And since it’s getting harder for me rather than better, it has eventually got to such a pitch that I definitely have to complain.  1v:3
And I say once more, let’s keep my little painting business in order, because sooner or later we might be in sore need of it.
When there’s a storm in the air, one has to keep the boats in good shape. The man I now have in The Hague is Leurs, who doesn’t live in Praktizijnshoek any more but in Molenstraat.6
He’s asking me to send him more than one painting in order to have more than one chance, and is offering me his two windows.7
And since he’s very hard pressed for money himself, he won’t shrink from making an effort. I’m sending him a couple of cottages,8 the old tower9 and smaller ones of figures.10 And while he shows those, I’ll make a few new ones to keep him going.
I’ve also got a chance of persuading a second in The Hague.11
But for me it comes down to being able to go on working.
I’ve made another small painting of the wheat harvest since you left, the same size as the women pulling turnips in the snow:12  1r:4 a reaper, a woman binding sheaves, sheaves, and the windmill, like the drawings you saw.13 An effect in the evening after sunset.
Also more studies of interiors.14
Once again I suggest that you just talk it over with Portier and Serret, say that I’m in quite a fix, encourage them to do what they can, that for my part I’ll see about sending them new things.
And let’s see about getting that crate off.15 I’ve also painted 3 more studies of the women among the potatoes, the first of which you’ve already seen.16
Rappard had spoken to Wenckebach, and in his letter there was no longer any trace of the tone he’d started to take. And although he’s going to Terschelling first, he writes that he wants to come and make more studies here. Regards, and wishing you good fortune.

Yours truly,


Br. 1990: 530 | CL: 421
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Nuenen, Wednesday, 19 August 1885

3. Theo, whose trip to Nuenen with Andries Bonger had included a visit to Antwerp, must have talked about Constantin Meunier’s painting Returning from the pit, which was exhibited at the World Exhibition. See exhib. cat. Antwerp 1885, p. 34, cat. no. 252 (De ophaling in eene kolemijn in het land van Luik). This was not the first time Van Gogh mentioned Meunier’s work in connection with Van Rappard’s: see letter 496.
4. This was in Jutphaas, a small town to the south of Utrecht, where Van Rappard’s cousin A.C.P.G. van Rappard owned a brickworks.
5. It is possible that Van Gogh wrote ‘kon’ (could) rather than ‘kan’ (can).
6. W.J. Leurs had moved from number 1 Praktizijnshoek in The Hague to number 5 Molenstraat (GAH, Adresboek 1885).
7. This means that Leurs was offering him two shop windows in which to display his work. As far as we know, there is no surviving contemporary photograph of these premises.
8. This reference is too vague for identifications of specific works.
9. This may be the signed The old tower of Nuenen (F 88 / JH 490 [2471]). It cannot have been The old church tower at Nuenen (‘The peasants’ churchyard’) (F 84 / JH 772 [2512]), since Theo already had that painting. Cf. cat. Amsterdam 1999, p. 158 (n. 17).
[2471] [2512]
10. It is not possible to determine which figure pieces Van Gogh had in mind here. Altogether we know of ten painted figure studies from this period. See cat. Amsterdam 1999, pp. 160-163, cat. no. 29 (esp. n. 3).
11. This ‘second’ was the paint seller Furnée: see letter 523.
12. This painting of ‘women pulling turnips’ is not known. Cf. letter 515.
13. This painting of the wheat harvest is not known. There is a single drawing of the subject: Wheatfield with a reaper and a woman binding sheaves (F 1321 / JH 915).
14. We know of various studies of interiors drawn during this period: Woman by the fireplace (F 1223 / JH 894), Woman by a hearth (F 1222 / JH 895), Woman with a kettle by a hearth (F 1293 / JH 896), Woman shelling peas (F 1214 / JH 702 [2499]), Woman by a hearth (F 1218 / JH 701) and Woman by a hearth (F 1288 / JH 797).
[579] [580] [581] [2499]
15. The crate of paintings intended for the paint supplier Leurs: see letters 527 and 530.
16. It is impossible to say for certain which four studies of women in a potato field Van Gogh is referring to here. He had made the study Two women digging (F 97 / JH 876 [2523]) two days earlier, as we learn from letter 528, and Two women digging (F 96 / JH 878 [2524]) was most probably also one of this series. Van Gogh may also have counted the watercolour Two women digging (F 1296 / JH 877) as one of them.
[2523] [2524]
a. Means: ‘maken’ (make).