My dear friend Russell
Today I’m sending you a little roll of photographs after Millet1 which perhaps you may not know.
In any event, it’s to recall us, my brother and myself, to your good memory. Do you know that my brother has since married and that any day now he’s expecting his first-born? May it go well – he has a very nice Dutch wife.
How it pleases me to write to you after a long silence.2  1v:2 Do you remember the time when, almost simultaneously, you I think first and I afterwards, met our friend Gauguin? He’s still struggling on – and alone, or almost alone, like the good fellow he is. Am sure, though, that you don’t forget him.
He and I are still friends, I can assure you, but perhaps you’re not unaware that I myself am ill, and have more than once had serious nervous crises and delirium. This was why, having had to go into an asylum for the insane, he and I separated. But prior to that, how many times we talked about you together! Gauguin is currently still with one of my fellow-countrymen  1v:3 called De Haan, and De Haan praises him a great deal and doesn’t find it at all bad to be with him.
You will find article on canvases of mine at the Vingtistes,3 I assure you that I myself owe a lot to things that Gauguin told me as regards drawing, and hold his way of loving nature in high, very high esteem. For in my opinion he’s worth even more as a man than as an artist. Are things going well with you? And are you still working a lot?
Although being ill isn’t a cause for joy, I nevertheless have no right to complain about it, for it seems to me that nature sees to it that illness is a means of getting us back on our feet, of healing us, rather than an absolute evil.
If you ever come to Paris,  1r:4 take one of my canvases from my brother’s place if you wish, if you still have the idea of making a collection for your native country one day.4 You’ll remember that I’ve already spoken to you about it, that it was my great desire to give you one for this purpose. How is our friend Macknight?5 If he’s still with you, or if there are others with you whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, give them my warm regards. Above all, please remember me to Mrs Russell and believe me, with a handshake in thought,

Yours truly,
Vincent van Gogh

St-Rémy en Provence.


Br. 1990: 850 | CL: 623a
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: John Peter Russell
Date: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Saturday, 1 February 1890

1. From letter 850 it appears that Theo had recently sent these photographs. It is not known which works by Millet they reproduced.
2. The last time Van Gogh and Russell were known to have been in touch was September 1888. As emerges both from what follows and from letter 850, Van Gogh wanted to make another attempt to interest Russell in Gauguin’s work, with a view to carrying out the latter’s plan (expressed in letter 844) to set up a collective studio in Antwerp.
3. This was Aurier’s article ‘Les isolés: Vincent van Gogh’ (see letter 845, n. 2). Evidently Theo had sent several copies of the Mercure de France, for in letter 853 Vincent quotes it verbatim, so he must still have had a copy. We know from letter 854 that Theo had also sent L’Art Moderne. Revue Critique des Arts et de la Littérature, in which a shortened version of the article appeared. It cannot be ascertained which version of the article Van Gogh sent to Russell.
For the paintings that Van Gogh exhibited at Les Vingt, see letter 820.
4. Russell owned Van Gogh’s painting Shoes (F 332 / JH 1234) and twelve drawings that Van Gogh had sent to him from Arles. See letter 650, n. 6, and letter 654, n. 1. It is not known if he had other works by Van Gogh in his possession.
5. After his 1888 visit to Belle-Île, Macknight returned to the Breton island in the summer of 1889, spending much time with Russell. See Bailey 2007, p. 34. See also letter 669, n. 15.
a. Read: ‘leur’.