London, 13 Sept. 1873

My dear Theo,
Writing to Uncle Hein, I’m enclosing a word for you. I’m very curious to hear whether you went to Helvoirt1 on Ma’s birthday and how it was there.
Did you get my letter and the lithograph by Weissenbruch that I put in the crate of paintings?2 Oh, how I’d like to have you here, old chap, to see my new lodgings,3 which you’ll have heard about. I now have a room, as I’ve long been wishing, without sloping beams and without blue wallpaper with a green border. It’s a very diverting household where I am now, in which they run a school for little boys.
Some time ago I spent a Saturday rowing on the Thames with 2 Englishmen. It was glorious.  1v:2
Yesterday I saw an exhibition of Belgian paintings,4 which included various old acquaintances from the last Brussels Exhibition.5 There were various beautiful things by A. and Julien de Vriendt,6 Cluysenaar,7 Wouters,8 Coosemans,9 Gabriël,10 De Schampheleer,11 &c.
Have you ever seen anything by Terlinden?12 If you have, be sure to write to me about it.
It was truly refreshing to see those Belgian paintings; the English ones13 are, with few exceptions, very disagreeable and feeble. Some time ago I saw one with a sort of fish or dragon no less than 6 ells long. It was ghastly. And a little man who was going to kill the above-mentioned creature. And all this represented, I believe, ‘the archangel Michael slaying Satan’.14
Adieu, old chap, I wish you well, and write soon.


Another English painting is ‘Satan possessing the herd of swine at the Gadarene lake’. It showed some 50 black pigs and piglets, running helter-skelter downhill and tumbling over each other into the sea. It was very edifying. This was, however, a very clever painting by Prinsep.15

I just received your letter. That will be quite a change for you, now that you’re going to The Hague. I bet it’ll cost you dearly to say goodbye to beautiful, convivial Brussels.16 But you’ll get on well in The Hague too. Thanks for writing to me about the paintings. That painting by Millet must have been very rich.17 Adieu, I’ll write again soon.



Br. 1990: 013 | CL: 11
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: London, Saturday, 13 September 1873

1. Theo visited his mother for her 54th birthday on 10 September (FR b2659 and b2661).
2. The lithograph Molen langs de Trekvaart (Mill by the Trekvaart) by Weissenbruch Dzn. is followed in Theo’s album on pp. 2, 3 and 5 by three lithographs after J.H. Weissenbruch: Landschap met kerk en molens (Landscape with churches and mills), which was made by Jacobus Jan van der Maaten (Ill. 1653 [1653]), Het hofje aan de Nieuwe Haven te ’s-Gravenhage (The courtyard near the Nieuwe Haven in The Hague), by Frederik Hendrik Weissenbruch (Ill. 1654 [1654]) and Landschap met bootje (Landscape with boat). Ill. 1652 [1652] (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, t*1488). See also letter 11, n. 16. Van Gogh sometimes enclosed letters or prints in shipments sent from Goupil’s London office to the branch in The Hague.
[1653] [1654] [1652]
3. Van Gogh moved to Hackford Road 87, Brixton, where he boarded with Ursula Loyer and her daughter Eugenie, who ran a school. Brixton was ‘a relatively well-to-do area on the southern outskirts of the capital’. See exhib. cat. London 1992, p. 16; and Bailey 1990, pp. 26-37. Mr van Gogh reported to Theo: ‘Vincent is doing well in London. We are getting cheerful letters. He moved last week to save some money, as his former lodgings had become too expensive for him, and he had found a good place for 180 guilders less a year’ (FR 2651, 25 August 1873).
4. The ‘London International Exhibition’ was held from 14 April to 31 October in two halls near the Royal Albert Hall and in the Horticultural Gardens. See London International exhibition of 1873. Official catalogue. London 1873, and John E. Findling, Historical dictionary of world’s fairs and expositions, 1851-1988. London 1990, pp. 44-47.
5. In the summer of 1872, Van Gogh visited the ‘Exposition générale des Beaux-Arts’ (General Exhibition of Fine Arts) at Brussels, at which the painters mentioned were all represented. See letter 4.
7. Alfred Cluysenaar, A vocation and La vie en rose (A rosy view of life), pp. 64-65, cat. nos. 1640 and 1673.
8. Edouard Wouters, The new romance, p. 66, cat. no. 1693.
9. Joseph Théodore Coosemans, Interior of a wood and The marsh, pp. 66-67, cat. nos. 1720 and 1724.
10. The Dutch painter Constant Gabriël was often viewed as a Belgian because of his frequent stays in Belgium. He was represented at the exhibition by A bog – View in Holland and Afternoon – Landscape in Holland, pp. 64-65, cat. nos. 1659 and 1663.
12. According to the catalogue, Felix Terlinden was not represented at the London exhibition, though one of his works was on display at the 1872 Brussels exhibition.
13. There were c. 600 English paintings on display at this exhibition.
14. Sir Edward James (John) Poynter, Fight between More of More Hall and the Dragon of Wantley (Wortley Hall (near Sheffield), The Earl of Wharncliffe’s Billiard Room). Ill. 467 [467]. It was displayed as a ‘companion picture to Perseus and Andromeda’ at the Royal Academy in 1873 and has nothing to do with the Archangel Michael, as Van Gogh assumes. See exhib. cat. Nottingham 1974, pp. 14-16 (with ill.) and exhib. cat. London 1992, p. 38.
15. Valentine Cameron Prinsep, The Gadarene swine (present whereabouts unknown). The work is very sketchily rendered in a cartoon by Charles Keene which was published in the 21 June 1873 issue of Punch, p. 261.
16. Theo had been transferred from Brussels to The Hague. Mr van Gogh had approved of this transfer and had told Theo: ‘I’ve now written to Mr Schmidt and requested that you begin in The Hague on 1 Nov. at the latest. And that His Honour therefore release you before that time. I sympathize with you. You’re attached to Mr S., and that is your perfect right, because he is such an excellent fellow. But in this case there are so many reasons that coincide, which one should in fact heed’ (FR b2661, 17 September 1873. Cf. also FR b2663). Theo arrived on Wednesday, 12 November in The Hague.
17. It cannot be ascertained which painting by Jean-François Millet Theo had described; evidently Vincent was not familiar with it.