My dear Theo,
Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised by a visit from Mr Salles who, I believe, had had a letter from you. I was completely well when he came so we were able to talk calmly. But I’m most confused that he should have put himself out for me, the more so because I hope that I’ve regained my presence of mind for a while. For the moment it seems to me that the best thing will be to carry on here. I’ll see what Mr Peyron says when I have a chance to speak to him; he’ll probably say that he absolutely cannot guarantee anything in advance, which seems quite right to me.
Today I’m dispatching a few canvases,1 the following:

Ploughed field with background of mountains2 ­ it´s
  the same field of the reaper from this summer3 and can be a pendant to it; I think that one will set off the other.
The ravine. This is the study done on a day when the
  mistral was blowing ­ I had wedged my easel in place with large stones4 ­ the painting of this isn´t dry, it´s in a tauter drawing style,  1v:2 and there´s more suppressed passion and it has more colour.5
This can go with another study of mountains, summer effect, with a road in the foreground and a black hovel.6
Women picking olives – I´d intended this painting for
  our mother and sister so that they might have something a little studied.7 I also have a repetition of it8 for you, and the study (more coloured with more solemn tones) from nature.9
The fields. Fields of young wheat with background
  of lilac mountains and yellowish sky.10
Olive trees. Orange and green sunset sky11 (there´s
  also a variant of it here with figures).12
ditto, neutral effect.
ditto       ,,          ,,.13
The tall plane trees, the main street or boulevard
  of St-Rémy, study from nature14 ­ I have a repetition of it here which is perhaps more finished.15
Copy  after Millet , The diggers.16
  ditto The evening.17
I was forgetting the rain.18

Please don’t look at them without putting them on stretching frames and framing them in white.
That’s to say, you’ll remove the nails from other canvases and mount these on the stretching frames, one by one if you like, to appreciate the effect. For the colourings absolutely need to be set off by the white frame to judge the ensemble. Thus the rain, the grey olive trees, one can scarcely see them without the frame.
This will somewhat fill the hole left by the canvases that have gone off to the Vingtistes – you must ask Tanguy to remove the nails from other canvases and to mount these on stretching frames so that they dry all the way through.
In your previous letter19 you talk of Hugo’s drawings – I’ve just seen a volume of Michelet’s (illustrated) Histoire de France. I saw admirable drawings in it by Vierge which were completely like something by Victor Hugo, astonishing things.20 Do you know that? When you see Mr Lauzet ask him if he knows them, there’s also a resemblance with Hervier’s talent,21 but more complete, with  1r:4 more dramatic figures and effects – it also resembles the illustrations for The life of Frederick the Great by Menzel.22 Most curious.
I think that Vierge has also gone to Charenton,23 but how that fellow has worked. At one time Boggs had a magnificent wood engraving of his, probably published by L’Illustration, Sea-bathing – a crowd of men and women24 – drawing in the manner of Doré, who one day did precisely the same subject very well on a page also published by L’Illustration25 – but then with Vierge there’s Daumier’s rich execution in full.
I hope that Jo’s health and yours are good, and that you no longer have any anxiety on my account.
Write to me if you can soon after receiving the canvases. Good handshake in thought to you and your wife.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 836 | CL: 621
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Friday, 3 January 1890

1. As emerges from letter 838, this consignment also contained a drawing: Fountain in the garden of the asylum (F 1531 / JH 1705 [2794]).
2. Ploughed field with a man carrying a bundle of straw (F 641 / JH 1795 [2846]).
3. Van Gogh is referring to Reaper (F 617 / JH 1753 [2813]) and the repetition Reaper (F 618 / JH 1773 [2828]), which he had sent to Theo at the end of September (see letter 805).
[2813] [2828]
4. The work sent was Ravine (F 662 / JH 1804 [2853]).
5. The painting that still had to dry was Ravine (F 661 / JH 1871 [2881]).
6. The Alpilles with a hut (F 622 / JH 1766 [2823]) was already at Theo’s; regarding the consignment, see letter 805.
7. The painting for Mrs van Gogh and Willemien was Women picking olives (F 655 / JH 1869 [2879]). See letter 827, n. 13.
8. This repetition is Women picking olives (F 656 / JH 1870 [2880]).
9. The first study, painted on the spot, is Women picking olives (F 654 / JH 1868 [2878]).
10. Wheatfields with a tree and mountains (F 721 / JH 1864 [2875]).
11. Olive grove (F 586 / JH 1854 [2868]).
12. Olive grove with two olive pickers (F 587 / JH 1853 [2867]).
13. These two paintings are Olive grove (F 707 / JH 1857 [2871]) and Olive trees (F 708 / JH 1855 [2869]).
[2871] [2869]
14. The study from nature is Road menders (‘The tall plane trees’) (F 657 / JH 1860 [2872]). See letter 824, n. 13. The street was called Cours Est (now boulevard Mirabeau).
15. The repetition is Road menders (‘The tall plane trees’) (F 658 / JH 1861 [2873]); this version was executed less hastily and more of the depiction has been worked out in detail.
16. Diggers (after Millet) (F 648 / JH 1833 [2856]). For the print, see letter 805, n. 7.
17. Evening (after Millet) (F 647 /JH 1834 [2857]). For the print, La veillée [1682] (The evening), see letters 805, n. 10 and 37, n. 16.
[2857] [1682]
19. This was letter 830.
20. Daniel Urrabieta Vierge had illustrated all nineteen volumes of Michelet’s Histoire de France (1876-1878). One example is the print engraved by Clément Edouard Bellenger: ‘Il fit égorger un frère de Bernard et jeter sa soeur dans la Saône’ (He had a brother of Bernard strangled and his sister thrown in the Saône). Ill. 1395 [1395]. See J. Michelet, Histoire de France. Nouvelle édition, revue et augmentée. Avec illustrations par Vierge. Tome deuxième. Paris 1876, between pp. 12-13.
21. The lithographs and etchings of Adolphe Hervier portray, often by way of caricature, the daily life of Parisians and peasant folk alike. The Album Hervier, published in 1888, contained 43 plates drawn and etched between 1840 and 1860.
23. In 1881 Daniel Urrabieta Vierge had a stroke, after which he could not speak, draw or paint for two years. Nothing has been found about his supposed stay in the lunatic asylum of Charenton. Cf. Jules de Marthold, Daniel de Vierge. Sa vie, son oeuvre. Paris 1906.
24. This beach scene has not been traced.