Dear Mother,
I wanted to write to you one more time while you’re still in the old house, to thank you for your last letter and the news of Cor’s safe passage.
I believe that he’ll work there with enthusiasm and have some enjoyment in his life now and then. What he writes to you reminds me of what my friend Gauguin told me about Panama and Brazil.1 I didn’t know that Isaäcson is also going to the Transvaal.2 You know that I never met him personally — but I did write to him recently3 because he more or less intended to write about my work in a Dutch newspaper, which I asked him not to do, but at the same time to thank him for his loyal sympathy, because from the beginning we often thought about each other’s work and have the same ideas about our old Dutch and the present-day French painters.
And I also like De Haan’s work a lot.4
Now I can inform you that what I promised you is entirely ready — that’s to say five of my landscape studies5 and a small portrait of myself6 and a study of an interior.7 I’m afraid it will disappoint you, though, and a few things seem unimportant and ugly to you. Wil and you can do with them as you wish, and give the other sisters a couple of them if you like, that’s why I’m sending a couple more.  1v:2
But this is something that doesn’t concern me, only I wanted to make sure that there were things of mine in the family, and am only trying to form a few things into a sort of ensemble that I would prefer to see stay together so that in time it becomes rather more important. Only, I can understand in advance that you won’t have room for all 6, and so do with them as you wish. But I advise you to keep them together, at least for a while, since then you’ll be better able to judge which you like best in the long run.
I’m sorry that Aunt Mina is suffering so, as you write;8 it’s a good many years since I saw her.
I certainly agree with you that it’s a good deal better for Theo like this than before, and just hope everything goes well with Jo’s confinement, then they’ll be set up for quite a while. It’s always good to experience how a human being comes into the world, and that leads many characters to more peace and truth.
The countryside here is very beautiful in the autumn, and the yellow leaves. I’m just sorry there aren’t more vineyards here, though I did go and paint one a few hours away.9 What happens is a large field turns entirely purple and red, like the Virginia creeper at home, and next to it a square of yellow and a little further on a patch that’s still green.  1v:3
All that beneath a sky of magnificent blue, and lilac rocks in the distance. Last year I had a better opportunity to paint that than now.
I would have liked to include something like that with what I’m sending you, but I’ll have to owe it to you till another year.10
You’ll see from the little portrait of myself that I include that although I saw Paris, London and so many other large cities, and that for years at a time, I still look more or less like a peasant from Zundert, Toon or Piet Prins,11 say, and I sometimes imagine that I feel and think like that too, only the peasants are of more use in the world. It’s only when they have all the rest that people get a feeling for, need for paintings, books etc. So in my own estimation I definitely reckon myself below the peasants. Anyway, I plough on my canvases as they do in their fields.
Otherwise things are wretched enough in our profession — that’s always been so, in fact — but it’s really very bad at present.
And yet there have never been such prices paid for paintings as nowadays.
What keeps us working is friendship for one another and love of nature, and anyway, when one’s taken the trouble to become master of the brush, one can’t stop painting.  1r:4
Compared with others I’m still among the fortunate ones, but just imagine what it must be like when someone starts in the profession and has to give it up before he’s done anything, and there are many like that.
Reckon on 10 years needed to learn the profession, anyone who gets through 6, say, and pays for them and then has to give up, if you knew how miserable that is and how many there are like that. And the high prices one hears about, paid for work by painters who are dead and weren’t paid like that in life, it’s a sort of tulip mania12 from which the living painters get more disadvantage than advantage. And it will also pass like tulip mania.
One can reason, however, that although tulip mania is long gone and forgotten, the flower growers have remained and will remain. And so I regard painting in the same way, that what remains is a sort of flower growing. And as to that I reckon myself fortunate to be in it. But the rest!
These things to prove to you than one mustn’t be under any illusions. My letter must go off — at the moment I’m working on a portrait of one of the patients here.13 It’s strange that when one is with them for some time and is used to them, one no longer thinks about their being mad. Embraced in thought by

Your loving


Br. 1990: 813 | CL: 612
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Anna van Gogh-Carbentus
Date: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, on or about Monday, 21 October 1889

1. For Gauguin’s travels to Brazil, see letter 616, n. 2; for his stay in Panama, see letter 623, n. 3.
2. For a while there was talk of Isaäcson’s going to the Transvaal. On 27 November 1889, he wrote from Amsterdam to Theo and Jo that he was planning to leave in three or four weeks (FR b1901). However, it emerges from Willemien van Gogh’s letter of 3 April 1890 to Dries and Annie Bonger that he had meanwhile abandoned his Transvaal plans (FR b2864).
3. This letter for Isaäcson (which is no longer extant) had been sent by Vincent along with letter 810 to Theo.
4. Vincent’s opinion of De Haan’s work was based only on photographs, which Theo had sent to him, of two of De Haan’s drawings (see letter 708, n. 3).
5. These five landscape studies were a painting of olive trees, Wheatfield and cypresses (F 743 / JH 1790 [2842]), Reaper (F 619 / JH 1792 [2844]), Field with a ploughman (F 625 / JH 1768 [2825]) and a painting of an orchard in blossom.
[2842] [2844] [2825]
6. Self-portrait with clean-shaven face (F 525 / JH 1665 [2769]). It measures 40 x 31 cm.
7. The bedroom (F 483 / JH 1793 [2845]).
8. Aunt Mina (Willemina), a sister of Mrs van Gogh and the widow of the Rev. J.P. Stricker, lived in Amsterdam. A letter written by Mrs van Gogh to Theo and Jo at the beginning of September 1889 reveals that Aunt Mina had a bad knee (FR b2906).
9. Landscape in the neighbourhood of Saint-Rémy (F 726 / JH 1874 [3107]).
10. In November 1888 Van Gogh had made the painting The red vineyard (F 495 / JH 1626 [2745]) in the vicinity of Arles.
11. Antonie (‘Toon’) Prins and Petrus (‘Piet’) Prins, who had been Vincent’s classmates at elementary school in Zundert . They were brothers of Wouterina, the Van Gogh’s maidservant, and sons of Anthonie Prins and Pieternella Konings, tenants on the Welstandshoeve no. 40 in De Wildert (south of Zundert), later no. 71. Cf. Kools 1990, pp. 52, 54, 56, 98 and 153, n. 89, and letter 145, n. 19, Map of Etten and environs, no. 39.
12. ‘Tulip mania’ refers to buying and selling a product purely for profit. See letter 409, n. 5.
13. Portrait of a man (F 703 / JH 1832 [2855]) or Portrait of a one-eyed man (F 532 / JH 1650 [2760]). The latter portrait was not painted in Arles – as was long assumed – but in Saint-Rémy. See exhib. cat. Essen 1990, p. 119.
[2855] [2760]