Paris 18 Sept. 1889

My dear Vincent,
I put off replying to your last letter as I was hoping to meet père Pissarro. He’s gone back home1 but is to return to Paris soon. While talking about you, père Tanguy and I had already touched on the question of whether there couldn’t be some way of making the arrangement of which you speak, and then his mother died,2 and it wasn’t  1v:2 the moment. Last year De Haan wanted to go and stay with him, and then he said that he didn’t have room and he asked around among the neighbours, but without result. I’ve spoken of it to Jouve, who has promised to see if he couldn’t arrange something, since staying at his place is impossible because of a lack of space. But he has his studio. He looks as if he’s on the way up, he’s found decorative work.3 He’s a man with a lot of common sense. But as regards what is vital, knowing if your health will improve when you’re staying with one or other of these people, that’s the big question. When you  1v:3 speak of overcoming your illness through work, old chap you’ve never done anything else, and so you have no need to move for that. On the contrary, I think that the only thing that can cure you is that you don’t try to do anything more than fortify your body, and the dark thoughts will go away when you have a bit more blood in your body. I’m afraid when you work furiously like that, for you’re bound to wear yourself out. I understand that idleness weighs heavily on you, especially when you have no company to your taste. But in coming here it’s the danger of company that annoys you. I’d say, go to the country, to a corner where there’s some forgotten artist, but  1r:4 you know how difficult you find it to bear the cold, and as long as you’re not completely better you must also not be alone. According to Rivet, and also from what I have understood of Mr Peyron’s letters, it’s possible that you won’t have a crisis, but it’s absolutely essential that you do nothing imprudent and that you’re under the supervision of a doctor. Do you want to come to an asylum here until the winter is over, and afterwards do you want to go to the country to paint? Give me a categorical answer to this. Why do you stay shut away, and why don’t you go out and get some fresh air, it can only do you good, whereas a sedentary life is no good for you, you must also eat meat. You’ll probably have received the colours from Tasset’s, as for the second consignment of white,  2r:5 it will reach you in a very short time, for he didn’t have any in the shop.4 In the exhibition there are three paintings by Meunier which you would have enjoyed seeing. One is a study of red roofs above which rise factory chimneys, which all have their heavy plumes of smoke standing out against a milky morning sky.5 No. 2 is a group of workmen walking two by two on their way to the factory across heaps of slag and coal, props, black pieces threaten the sky.6 No. 3, Female coal-pit drawer. She’s chatting with a young lad before going underground. They’re  2v:6 dressed the same, but she’s definitely feminine, above their heads a big beam cuts out part of the sky against which they stand out.7 Even if the latter is neither Impressionistic nor the painting of the day, it’s beautiful all the same, all three paintings have been hoisted high up in the room. There’s also a life-size puddler in bronze, which resembles a figure by Millet, also very beautiful.8
Jo is well, she’s almost halfway through her pregnancy. Up to now it’s going well, she is big, which hinders her a little, but apart from occasional spells of nausea it’s going well. She isn’t anxious any more, and isn’t afraid. I hope that you’re better and that you don’t feel too unhappy. We often speak about and think of you.
Warm regards from Jo and good handshake, and

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 803 | CL: T17
From: Theo van Gogh
To: Vincent van Gogh
Date: Paris, Wednesday, 18 September 1889

1. Camille Pissarro lived with his family in Eragny-par-Gisors (Val-d’Oise).
2. Pissarro’s mother, Rachel Pommié-Manzana, died on 30 May 1889.
3. In letter 801 Van Gogh had suggested putting the idea to Jouve. Regarding his studio, see letter 801, n. 32. Jouve produced ‘enamel-covered lava and ceramic frescoes’ (émaux sur lave et fresques céramiques) (Almanach du commerce de Paris 1888).
4. Van Gogh had ordered the paint in letter 800 and the extra shipment of white in letter 801. The paints Theo ordered in September 1889 from Tasset cost 174 francs (Account book 2002, p. 44).
5. Theo is referring to the paintings The black region, Female coal-pit drawers (the coupling point) and Return from the pit (black) by Constantin Meunier at the 1889 World Exhibition. See exhib. cat. Paris 1889-3, p. 66, cat. nos. 127-129. The first is Black region, Borinage (Brussels, Musée Constantin Meunier). Ill. 1150 [1150].
[892] [1150]
a. Read: ‘scories’.
6. Return from the pit (black) is the painting The return of the miners (Brussels, Musée Constantin Meunier). Ill. 1146 [1146].
b. Read: ‘gars’.
7. For Female coal-pit drawers (the coupling point), cf. the depiction Three female coal-pit drawers, 1885? (private collection) in exhib. cat. Brussels 1998, p. 124, cat. no. 45.
c. Read: ‘puddleur’.
8. At the World Exhibition, Meunier exhibited the bronze statue Puddler (Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts). Ill. 1149 [1149]. See exhib. cat. Paris 1889-3, p. 70, cat. no. 321.