My dear Theo,
Today I wanted to try and read the letters that had come for me, but I wasn’t yet clear-headed enough to be able to understand them.1
However, I’m trying to answer you straightaway, and am hoping that it will lift within a few days from now. Above all I hope that you’re well, and your wife and your child.
Don’t worry about me, even if it should last a little longer, and write the same thing to those at home and give them my warm regards.
Warm regards to Gauguin, who wrote me a letter for which I thank him very much,2 I’m terribly bored but must try to be patient. Once again warm regards to Jo and to her little one, and handshake in thought.

Ever yours,

I’m picking up this letter again to try and write, it will come little by little, it’s just that my mind has been so affected – without pain, it’s true – but totally stupefied. I must tell you that there are – as far as I can judge – others who have this like me; who having worked during a period of their life are reduced to powerlessness even so. One doesn’t easily learn anything good between four walls, that’s understandable, but nevertheless it’s true that there are also people who can no longer be left at liberty as if they had nothing wrong with them. And so I almost or entirely despair of myself. Perhaps, perhaps I would indeed get better in the country for a time.
Work was going well, the last canvas of the branches in blossom,3 you’ll see that it was perhaps the most patiently worked, best thing I had done, painted with calm and a greater sureness of touch. And the next day done for like a brute. Difficult to understand things like that, but alas, that’s how it is. I have a great desire to get back to my work, though, but Gauguin also writes that he, who is nevertheless robust, also despairs of being able to continue. And isn’t it true that we often see the story of artists like that. So, my poor brother, take things as they are, don’t grieve on my account, it will encourage me and support me more than you think to know that you’re running your household well. Then, after a time of trial, perhaps days of serenity will return for me too. But in the meantime I’ll send you some canvases soon.  1r:3
Russell also wrote to me, and I think it’s good to have written to him4 so that he doesn’t forget us completely – for your part speak of him from time to time so that people may know that although he works in isolation5 he’s a very good man, and I think he’ll do good things as one used to see in England, for example. He’s right a thousand times over to barricade himself in a little.
Give my regards to the Pissarros,6 later I’m going to read your7 letters more calmly, and hope to write again tomorrow or the day after.


Br. 1990: 863 | CL: 628
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, on or about Monday, 17 March 1890

1. On 22 February Vincent had had another attack, as Peyron informed Theo in a letter written two days later: ‘He has had another attack, which prevents him from writing to you, and which occurred following a visit to Arles. I note that the crises are recurring more frequently and come after each journey he makes outside this home. I do not believe he is succumbing to any excesses when he is able to move freely, as I have only ever known him to be sober and reserved. I am forced to acknowledge, however, that he becomes ill every time he makes a little journey. ... I was obliged to send two men with a carriage to Arles to collect him, and it is not known where he spent the night of Saturday to Sunday. He took a painting with him of an Arlésienne, which was not recovered’ (Il a un nouvel acces qui ne lui permet pas de vous écrire, et qui lui est survenu après un voyage à Arles. Je remarque que les accès se rapprochent et surviennent après chaque déplacement qu’il fait en dehors de la maison. Je ne crois pas qu’il se livre à aucun excès lorsqu’il est libre de ses mouvements, car je l’ai toujours vu sobre et réservé. Mais je suis obligé de reconnaître que chaque fois qu’il fait une petite excursion, il devient malade ... J’ai été obligé d’envoyer deux hommes avec une voiture pour le prendre à Arles, et l’on ne sait pas où il a passé la nuit de samedi à dimanche. Il avait emporté avec lui un tableau représentant une Arlésienne; on ne l’a pas retrouvé). See FR b1062; Hulsker 1971, p. 43. Van Gogh had apparently taken along the portrait, one of the five he had painted on the basis of Gauguin’s drawing Madame Ginoux (study for ‘Night café, Arles’) [97], with the intention of giving it to Madame Ginoux.
Van Gogh did not recover from this latest attack until the end of April 1890 (see letter 863). On 14 March 1890 Theo wrote to Willemien: ‘No news from Vincent himself, but a letter from Dr Peyron to say that he was still unable to read or write, but that he hoped to get him on his feet again. Still, he says he shouldn’t conceal the fact that, now that the crisis has lasted so long, it will be more difficult for him to pull through’ (FR b927).
2. This letter from Gauguin is not known. What Van Gogh says further on in the letter about Gauguin’s doubts about painting (l. 45) might also refer to Gauguin’s letter 840 of about 17 January.
3. Almond blossom (F 671 / JH 1891 [2890]).
4. Russell’s letter is not known. Van Gogh’s letter to him is letter 849.
5. Russell had been living since the spring of 1888 on the Breton island of Belle-Île.
6. Theo had undoubtedly told Vincent about his Pissarro exhibition. See letter 858, n. 9.
7. Van Gogh possibly wrote ‘les’ instead of ‘tes’.