London, January 1874

My dear Theo,
Thanks for writing.
I sincerely wish you a very happy New Year. I know that things are going well for you in the office, because I heard as much from Mr Tersteeg.1 I saw from your letter that you have art in your blood, and that’s a good thing, old chap. I’m glad you like Millet, Jacque, Schreyer, Lambinet, Frans Hals &c., because – as Mauve says2 – ‘that’s it’. Yes, that painting by Millet ‘The evening angelus’,3 ‘that’s it’. That’s rich, that’s poetry. How I’d like to  1v:2 talk to you about art again, but now we can only write to each other about it often; find things beautiful as much as you can, most people find too little beautiful.
I’m writing below a few names of painters whom I like very much indeed. Scheffer, Delaroche, Hébert, Hamon.4
But I could go on like this for I don’t know how long, and then come all the old ones, and I’m sure I’ve left out some of the best new ones.
Always continue walking a lot and loving nature, for that’s the real way to learn to understand art better and better. Painters understand nature and love it, and teach us to see.
And then, there are painters who make nothing but good things, who cannot make anything bad,  1r:4 just as there are ordinary people who cannot do anything that isn’t good.
Things are going well for me here, I have a wonderful home and it’s a great pleasure for me to observe London and the English way of life and the English themselves, and I also have nature and art and poetry, and if that isn’t enough, what is?8 Yet I haven’t forgotten Holland, and especially The Hague and Brabant.
We’re busy in the office, we’re occupied with the inventory, which is however drawn up in 5 days, so we have it a little easier than you do in The Hague.
I hope you had a nice Christmas, just as I did.9
Well, old chap, I wish you well and write to me soon; in this letter I’ve written just what popped into my pen, I hope you’ll be able to understand it. Adieu, regards to everyone in the office and anyone else who asks after me, particularly everyone at Aunt Fie’s10 and the Haanebeeks’.


Herewith a few words for Mr Roos.


Br. 1990: 017 | CL: 13
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: London, beginning of January 1874

1. The satisfaction Tersteeg expressed in Theo’s performance also resulted in a rise: in January his salary had been increased to 38 guilders a month (FR b2683).
2. Van Gogh knew Anton Mauve through his work at Goupil’s in The Hague.
3. Jean-François Millet, The angelus (The evening angelus), 1857-1859 (Paris, Musée d’Orsay). Ill. 1697 [1697]. Van Gogh could not have seen the painting himself, but many reproductions of this famous work were in circulation. It had caused a stir because of the high price paid for it by the Paris art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel in 1867 (30,000 francs) and the price for which it was sold in 1872 to the Brussels collector John W. Wilson (38,000 francs). Cf. exhib. cat. Paris 1975, pp. 103-106, cat. no. 66; Sillevis 1989, p. 44, and Jensen 1994, pp. 61-62.
7. Presumably Jacob Maris, often mentioned later on in Vincent’s correspondence, who was a brother of the previously mentioned Matthijs (Thijs). Their brother Willem was also a painter, but his name occurs in Vincent’s letters only sporadically.
8. In a letter written to Theo on 24 December 1873, Mr van Gogh quoted one of Vincent’s letters from London: ‘Vincent writes that he really enjoys so many good things, more all the time – and then he says
“the valuable life,
your gift, O God!”’ (FR b2676).
The quotation was taken from the poem ‘Een kruis met rozen’ (A cross with roses) by P.A. de Génestet. See De Génestet 1869, vol. 2, p. 208.
9. During the 1873 Christmas holidays Theo was visiting the Tersteeg family, which Mrs van Gogh took as proof that Theo’s superior was satisfied with him; Vincent was received by the family of his superior, Obach (FR b2682).