Dear Mother,
I can very well understand that you say in your letter that it did you good ‘to have lots of people around again’ when Anna’s children and Lies were with you.1 Wil described the house to me in detail, and I’m very glad that your experience proves that the reasons for the change were justified.2 And so I hope that you’ll have many more very good days in Leiden — and rest assured I think of you very often here, where I spend my days more turned in on myself than sometimes seems to me desirable. All the same, I certainly have no reason whatsoever to complain, feeling stronger and healthier and calmer than before and compared with this time last year; then I certainly thought I wouldn’t recover again. I’ll always go on feeling the shock of that time, though, and if I just stick to my work it will be all right, wholly giving up the rest as difficult to reconcile, and as worrying about things can do little either way.  1v:2
As regards the exhibition in Brussels, why it doesn’t leave me indifferent is because I’ll have a few paintings3 from here which, notwithstanding that they were made in a very different region, have remained completely and utterly as if they were painted in Zundert, say, or Kalmthout, and I believe could also be understood by people who don’t, as they say, know anything about paintings. And so people could say that it would perhaps have been simpler had I just stayed quietly in North Brabant — but that’s as it is, and what is a body to do about it?4
Your thoughts will be much with Theo and Jo; I think it’s a very good plan for Wil to go and lend a hand in January and hope that that will work out, and if you go to stay with Aunt Mina in the meantime will also be doing a favour there, now Aunt is ill.5 Please don’t forget to remember me to her when you see her. It’s brave of her that, as you write, she suffers without complaining.  1v:3
I imagine I’ll spend a large part of next year here, too, since even if this were no longer absolutely necessary for my health, it would turn out best for my work — since I’m now fairly oriented here. It’s certainly not cheap for what one gets for it — but change is always damaging to the painting, and so I’m seriously thinking about staying, seeing as I can be very regular in my work here. And apart from that the region has hardly been painted, if at all, by anyone else yet. Because this is a region of the south here that’s no warmer than at home, and the other painters usually go a little further, to Nice, for instance. It’s great news that Aunt is no longer in Princenhage,6 but in any case she was very right to have dispensed with Jacob and Co., since they indeed seemed to have always been the actual owners of the whole show — and that was really too much to bear.7  1r:4 It’s one of those strange things in life that one finds hard to make head or tail of in order to understand the reason for them. Anyway, I think she’s absolutely right — and yet she must have been or still is attached to Princenhage. And attachment to things is a part of us and it’s hard for others to take away from us.
And now I say goodbye to you and Wil for today. Thanks again for the messages about Cor — and embraced in thought by

Your loving


Br. 1990: 828 | CL: 616
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Anna van Gogh-Carbentus
Date: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Monday, 9 or Tuesday, 10 December 1889

1. This remark must refer only to Anna’s children, and not to Lies’s illegitimate daughter, Hubertine Normance, who was born on 3 August 1886 and lived until 1969. Cf. Benno Stokvis, Lijden zonder klagen: het tragische levenslot van Hubertina van Gogh. Baarn 1969. Vincent’s sister Anna and her husband, Joan van Houten, had two daughters, Sara and Annie.
2. Mrs van Gogh described her new apartment to Theo and Jo as follows: ‘Wil actually has a nice little room of her own, very conveniently separated from my bedroom by a glass door that remains open a crack at night. We live in an agreeable suite, and we laid out a completely empty garden with our own shrubbery, so that we are happy to have accomplished so much’ (FR b2858).
3. Mrs van Gogh knew of the exhibition because Theo had written to Willemien about it. See letter 827, n. 4.
4. For this saying of ‘Jong Jochem’, see letter 27, n. 10.
5. Regarding Aunt Mina’s illness, see letter 811, n. 8.
6. After the death of her husband, Uncle Vincent van Gogh, on 28 July 1888, Cornelia van Gogh-Carbentus moved to The Hague on 28 November 1889.
7. This must refer to the domestic servants Jacob Vreeswijk and his wife, Sara van Toorn. By the terms of Uncle Vincent’s will, drawn up in 1877, they received 1,000 guilders. See Testament 1977 and GAB.