My dear Theo,
Am obliged to write to you as I’m sending you an order for colours which, if you place it with Tasset & Lhote, rue Fontaine,1 you’ll do well — since they know me — to tell them that I expect a discount at least equivalent to the cost of carriage, which I’ll be glad to pay myself — they don’t have to cover carriage, we’ll pay it, but in that case the discount should be 20%. If they’re willing to give you it — as I’m inclined to believe — they can supply me until further notice, and so this is a big order for them.  1v:2
You’ll ask — please — père Tasset or père Lhote the lowest price for 10 metres of his primed or absorbent canvas — and you’ll let me know the outcome of the discussion you’ll probably have with that gentleman for delivery of the merchandise described above. Here’s the order:

20   Silver white large tubes
10   ditto zinc white
15   Veronese Green double tubes
10   lemon Chrome Yellow ditto
10   (No. two) Chrome Yellow ditto
3   Vermilion ditto
3   No. three Chrome Yellow,2 ditto
6   Geranium  lake  small  tubes freshly ground,
if they’re greasy
I’ll send them back
12   ordinary ,, 
2   Carmine  
4   Prussian Blue small tubes
4   very light cinnabar GREEN small tubes
2   orange lead small tubes
6   Emerald green small tubes

This is quite a sizeable order; however, without counting the difference between the discount I dare hope for and the cost of carriage, we’ll still earn what I pay in addition for carriage, without taking into account that I don’t get any discount here.
Attached, so that it won’t put too much of a burden on you, a smaller order to be deducted from the first one, which latter is only urgent in respect of the part mentioned below.

10   Silver whit elarge tubes
6   Veronese Green double tubes
3   Lemon  chrome  yellow  
3   No 2 ,, ,,  double tubes
1   No 3 ,, ,,  
1   Vermilion, double tube
3   Geranium lake, small tubes
6   Ordinary lake ,,   ,,
2   Prussian blue ,,   ,,
4   Emerald green ,,   ,,

And — as soon as possible — the final price, to me, of absorbent canvas, 10 metres, please.
The colourman here3 made absorbent canvas for me, but he’s so lazy about doing it that I’ve decided to have everything sent from Paris or Marseille, and give up — having lost all patience — the idea of getting him to do it. (While waiting for a no. 30 absorbent canvas I painted two on non-absorbent canvas.)4
It goes without saying that if you buy colours for me my expenses here will be reduced by over 50%. Up to now I’ve spent more on my colours, canvases, &c. than on myself. I have another new orchard for you — but for Christ’s sake get the paint to me without delay. The season of orchards in blossom is so short, and you know these subjects are among the ones that cheer everyone up. As soon as I can pay for crates and postage (which is probably cheaper at the little station here than it would be at the Gare de Lyon)5 I’ll send you the studies. Am without a sou for the moment, as I was telling you before.6 Do what you can, but in any case let’s get the discount on the colours if, that is, you think it’s to our advantage to work like beavers.

Ever yours,

Herewith an order direct to Tasset & Lhote.

I’m quite curious to know what you’ll say about my first consignment, which will definitely contain at least 10 canvases.7


Br. 1990: 595 | CL: 475
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, on or about Thursday, 5 April 1888

1. The artists’ supplies shop run by Guillaume Charles Tasset and his (unidentified) partner Lhote, 31 rue Fontaine-Saint-Georges in Paris.
2. ‘Chrome yellow 1, 2 and 3’ refer to ‘lemon’, ‘yellow’ and ‘orange’ respectively.
a. Read: ‘partie’.
3. Van Gogh probably bought his paint from the grocer and chemist Jules Armand; see letter 583, n. 8.
4. See for this absorbent size 30 canvas: letter 594, n. 2. One of the two works on non-absorbent canvas was the ‘new orchard’ that Van Gogh mentions a little later in the letter (the sentence ‘while waiting ... non-absorbent canvas’ (en attendant ... non absorbante) (ll. 81-81a) was added later). We do not know which work this was; all the orchards that are now known have already been mentioned or are referred to later in the correspondence. The other work cannot be identified either. It was probably another orchard (Van Gogh’s use of the words ‘a new orchard’ would not seem to indicate this, but orchards were his only subject during this period) and has been lost. In letter 606 Van Gogh says he has destroyed works; these two may have been among them.
5. The station in Paris from which trains for the south depart.
6. Van Gogh had written this in letter 592.
7. Van Gogh sent Theo the first batch of paintings from Arles on 7 May; see letter 606, n. 4.