Wednesday evening

Dear Vincent,
I’ve been meaning to write to you day after day since Christmas — there’s even a half-finished letter to you in my writing-case — and now — if I don’t make haste to write this note you’d get the news that your namesake was here — before then I just want to bid you good-day.
It’s just midnight — the doctor’s sleeping for a while because he wanted to stay here tonight. Theo, Ma1 and Wil are sitting at the table with me — awaiting the things that will come — it’s a strange feeling — always that wondering — will  1v:2 the baby be here tomorrow morning? I can’t write much — but I so much wanted just to talk to you for a moment.
This morning Theo brought in the article in the Mercure,2 and after we’d read it Wil and I talked about you for a long time — I’m so longing for your next letter, which Theo is also looking forward to. Shall I read it? But everything has gone so well up to now — I’ll just keep my spirits up. This evening — all these last few days in fact — I’ve thought about it so much, whether I really have been able to do something to  1v:3 make Theo happy in his marriage. He’s done it for me. He’s been so good to me; so good — if things don’t go well — if I have to leave him — you tell him — for there’s no one in the world whom he loves as much — that he must never regret that we were married, because he’s made me so happy. It sounds sentimental — a message like this — but I can’t tell him now — half of my company has gone to bed, him too because he was so tired. Oh if only I  1r:4 can just give him a dear, healthy little boy, wouldn’t that make him happy? I’ll just close, because I keep having waves of pain which mean that I can’t think or write properly. When you get this it will all be over.

Believe me, your loving


Br. 1990: 846 | CL: T26
From: Jo van Gogh-Bonger
To: Vincent van Gogh
Date: Paris, Wednesday, 29 January 1890

1. Jo’s mother, Hermine Bonger-Weissman.
2. The article referred to is Albert Aurier, ‘Les isolés: Vincent van Gogh’, Mercure de France (January 1890), pp. 24-29. For the text, with commentary and an English translation, see exhib. cat. New York 1986, pp. 310-315.
In his article Aurier praises Van Gogh’s ‘strange, intense and feverish work’ (oeuvres étranges, intensives et fiévreuses) and calls him a worthy successor to the seventeenth-century Dutch masters. In his eyes, Van Gogh is not only a realist with a great love for nature and for truth, but also a symbolist who uses his idiom to express ‘an Idea’ (une Idée). He dreams of artistic innovation in the form of an ‘art of the tropical regions’ (art des régions tropicales), striving to produce naïve, primitive art that appeals to simple souls. With regard to Van Gogh’s technique, he writes that it matches his artistic temperament: ‘vigorous, exalted, brutal, intense’ (vigoureuse, exaltée, brutale, intensive). His palette is ‘incredibly dazzling’ (invraisemblablement éblouissante) and his brushstrokes ‘fiery, very powerful and full of tension’ (fougueux, très puissants et très nerveux). Aurier closes his article by lamenting that Van Gogh will never be completely understood, for he is ‘too simple and at the same time too subtle for the contemporary bourgeois mind’ (à la fois trop simple et trop subtil pour l’esprit-bourgeois contemporain).
Aurier published a shortened version of his article under the title ‘Vincent van Gogh’ in L’Art Moderne. Revue Critique des Arts et de la Littérature 10 (19 January 1890), no. 3, pp. 20-22, as is apparent from the first paragraph: ‘One of the artists who will be most widely discussed at the Salon of Les Vingt, around whom a great mass of ignorant nonsense will accumulate, Vincent van Gogh, has recently been studied very closely by Mr G. Albert Aurier, in a subtle and very interesting article published in the Mercure de France (the former Pléiade), January 1890 number. As we are unable to print the whole article, because of its length, we believe it useful to provide extracts from it’ (L’un des artistes qui seront les plus discutés au Salon des XX, celui devant lequel s’accumuleront en tas les ignorances et les inepties, Vincent Van Gogh, vient d’être étudie de très près par M. G. Albert Aurier, dans un subtil et très intéressant article publié par le Mercure de France (ancienne Pléiade), numéro de janvier 1890. Ne pouvant reproduire l’étude complète, en raison de son étendue, nous croyons utile d’en donner des extraits) (pp. 20-21).
Theo sent both articles to Vincent (see letter 849, n. 3), possibly with the present letter from Jo (since she writes that he had brought the article home that morning) or a day earlier, along with the papers sent to Peyron, the receipt of which he confirms in a letter dated 29 January (FR b1061). Theo also sent the article to Mrs van Gogh (see letter 850, n. 2), his sister Lies and the art critic Jan Veth. Mrs van Gogh wrote to Theo on 1 February 1890: ‘I was so happy to receive the article about Vincent. Wonderful that appreciation expressed publicly, so fortunate also for you, you did after all receive my postcard, I wrote it after reading the article’ (FR b3247). Lies wrote to Theo: ‘How appreciative and beautiful that article is! I thank you for sending it. It is certainly someone who knows Vincent well, I don’t mean outwardly, but inwardly’ (FR b3235). For Veth’s reaction, see letter 620, n. 5.