Paris, 3 May 1890

My dear Vincent,
I can’t tell you how pleased I was by your letter, or rather your two letters;1 I was saying to Jo the day before my birthday2 that if a letter came from Vincent I would no longer know what I could wish for to complete my happiness. And there you are, your letter arrived. Of course I’d like you to feel better still, and above all that your sadnesses might  1v:2 be dispelled. Your consignment of canvases has arrived too, and there are some that are very, very beautiful. The orderly3 and the other fellow with his swollen face4 are extraordinary, the branch of the almond trees in blossom5 shows that you haven’t exhausted these subjects. You may have missed the season of the blossoming trees this year, but let’s hope that that won’t be the case next time. The Millet copies6 are perhaps the finest things you’ve done, and make me believe that big surprises still await us the day you set yourself to doing figure compositions. The consignment of Tasset  1v:3 and Tanguy colours has left, I hadn’t yet received your second letter, and I told myself that you could well use the extra half.7 The Aurier canvas8 is one of the finest you’ve yet done, it has the richness of a peacock’s tail. I’ll take it to him directly, I’d had the frame made that you described,9 for I certainly owe him that, and he isn’t rich. And now the most important thing in your second letter, that is your plans to come here. I’m very happy that you feel the strength to undertake a change, and I absolutely agree that you should come as soon as possible, but you say that I myself must fix the time when you’re to come. I daren’t take a decision, and only you, with Dr Peyron’s advice,  1r:4 can take this responsibility upon yourself. Your journey to Arles was absolutely disastrous for you,10 will the travelling not do you harm this time? If I were you I’d act entirely in accordance with Mr Peyron’s view, and in any event on the day you’ve decided to come here you absolutely must be accompanied during the entire journey by someone you trust. The fatigue of the journey and the sensation of rediscovering places you have known may have an influence on your illness. If possible I’d so much like to have you with us at least for a while, and if you do everything to take care of yourself it’s very likely that all will go well. You say that the people down there understand nothing of painting, but here it’s absolutely the same, and you mustn’t think that you’ll find it otherwise anywhere, except as an exception. We have frequented one category of people, who have made it their principal occupation, but apart from them it’s Hebrew to the people, and simple things are even less understood than there where one can puzzle over the subject etc. I hope that you’ll be able to write to me that you’re getting better and better, and that your plans can soon be realized. However, don’t have too many illusions about life in the north, after all every part of the world has its pros and cons. I’ll write to you soon and shall look for lithographs of the masters. I’ll send them at the same time as the Brabant drawings.11 Be of good heart, and good handshake. Thanks again for your letters and for your consignment. If you need anything, say so. Business is going well and I have everything I need. Warm regards from Jo and the little one. Enclosed is their portrait.12



Br. 1990: 868 | CL: T33
From: Theo van Gogh
To: Vincent van Gogh
Date: Paris, Saturday, 3 May 1890

1. The first letter is letter 863, in which Vincent wishes Theo a happy birthday. The second is letter 865, as may be deduced from a passage later in the present letter, where Theo responds to what Vincent wrote (ll. 45-46 and ll. 64-66). Cf. also n. 7 below.
Theo also wrote on 3 May to his mother, saying how happy he was to receive Vincent’s letters: ‘It is nevertheless progress, that he could write again. At the time he didn’t have the courage to read your and my letters, for his indisposition is characterized above all by melancholy spells, and everything that reminds him of the past makes him sad and melancholy. Through it all he longs to be allowed to leave the asylum and then, for example, to come here, accompanied by someone from the asylum. May that happen without harming him. Dr Peyron would prefer that he stay a while longer, but Vincent already wrote earlier on that he thought he could recover better in a house without nuns. I’ve written to both of them, to Vincent to say that he must talk to Dr Peyron before making a decision and to the Doctor that I very much wanted to comply with Vincent’s wishes, but did not want to do anything imprudent, so I’m longing to hear something from them ... I forgot to tell you that Vincent sent a number of new paintings, including some very beautiful ones. It’s amazing that, in spite of it all, he can still deliver so much work’ (FR b929).
2. Theo had turned 33 on 1 May.
3. Charles-Elzéard Trabuc (F 629 / JH 1774 [2829]).
4. Probably Portrait of a one-eyed man (F 532 / JH 1650 [2760]). This was not made in Arles – as was long assumed – but in Saint-Rémy. See exhib. cat. Essen 1990, p. 119 (Dutch version only).
5. Almond blossom (F 671 / JH 1891 [2890]).
6. The consignment probably contained 16 copies after prints by Millet; see letter 863, n. 3.
7. For this order of paint, brushes and canvas, see letter 863. The ‘second letter’ is letter 865, in which Vincent announces his plan to come to the North. Theo assumed that he would remain for a while in Saint-Rémy and had therefore ordered extra paint.
9. Theo had read in Vincent’s letter to Aurier suggestions about the frame (cf. the postscript to letter 854, with which letter 853 to Aurier was enclosed).
10. The severe attack from which Vincent was still recovering began during his last trip to Arles on 22 February (see letter 857, n. 1).
11. Vincent had asked Theo to send lithographs by old and modern artists, as well as some figure drawings he had made in Nuenen. See letter 863.
12. Theo must have sent the photograph of Jo and little Vincent by Raoul Saisset (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b4822). Ill. 2314 [2314].