13 Feb. 82

My dear Theo,
Even though I’m rather expecting a letter from you one of these days, I’ll write again anyway.
I heard a few things about you from Mr Tersteeg when he returned from Paris. He told me that you were doing well, and he seemed to be rather pleased with his trip. When I went to see him I had a couple of drawings, and he said that they were better than the last ones and told me that I should again make a couple of small ones. I’m working on those now. And I’ve also been working on a new pen drawing of an old woman knitting.1 And I believe it’s better than last summer’s, at least it has more tone. When I have a couple of pen drawings that have turned out quite well, I believe I know an art lover who will take them.
I also wrote to C.M. the other day to say I’d rented a studio here, and hoped that when he came to The Hague he’d let me know, or come and have a look. Uncle Cent also told me last summer that if I have a drawing, a little smaller than those of last summer2 and with more watercolour, I should simply send it and he would take it. Perhaps the time will soon come when my work will put some money in my pocket, which I’m badly in need of, precisely in order to tackle things more seriously.  1v:2
If you can find out about it, you must tell me what kind of drawings one might be able to sell to the illustrated magazines. It seems to me they could use pen drawings of types of the people, and I’d like so much to start working on them, in order to make something suitable for reproduction. I don’t think that all drawings are drawn directly on the blocks, there must be some means of getting a facsimile onto the block.3 Though I don’t rightly know.
Sometimes I long so very much to see you and talk to you, will it be a long time before you come to Holland? I believe Pa half expected you to come for his birthday.4
I was very glad that Mr Tersteeg found the drawings a little better, well, I’m also beginning to feel more at home with my model, and that’s precisely the reason why I must continue with her now.
In the last two studies I captured the character much better, everyone who saw them said so. At the moment I quite often go to draw with Breitner, a young painter who’s acquainted with Rochussen as I am with Mauve.5 He draws very skilfully and very differently from me, and we often draw types together in the soup kitchen or the waiting room &c.6 He sometimes comes to my studio to look at woodcuts, and I go to see the ones he has as well. He has the studio that Apol used to have at Siebenhaar’s.7  1v:3
Last week I went to an art viewing at Pulchri which had sketches by Bosboom and Henkes.8 Very beautiful; there were a number of drawings by Henkes, larger figures than one usually sees from him. He ought to make more of them, I think.
Weissenbruch also came to see me.
I look forward every day to a letter from you, because I hope you’ll send me something one of these days.
We must stick it out for a while, old chap, and persevere, you as well as I, and then we’ll both get pleasure from it sometime.
I’m really very glad that I’ve gone on with the figure so far. If I’d been making only landscapes, perhaps I’d already be making something that would fetch a price, but later on I’d end up getting stuck anyway. Although the figure is more difficult and a more complicated matter, I believe it’s more solid in the long run.
De Bock came here this afternoon just as I was working from the model, and when he saw the model he started saying that he’d quite like to draw figures too; all the same, he doesn’t do it. He recently made a beautiful drawing, though.9  1r:4
In your last letter you told me something about the matter of your not being able to have any money before the inventory was finished.10 But if you don’t have it, be so good as to write to Mr Tersteeg about it immediately, because I have only three guilders or so left and it’s already nearly the middle of February.
So at all events I’m expecting a letter from you any day now.
I believe that I’ve got the proportions much better in my last drawings than in the previous ones, and that’s exactly what seemed to me to be the worst fault in my drawings up to now, but that’s changing, thank God, and then I won’t be afraid of anything.
Adieu Theo, write soon, accept in thought a hearty handshake.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 203 | CL: 174
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: The Hague, Monday, 13 February 1882

1. This pen-and-ink drawing is not known.
2. In the summer of 1881 Van Gogh usually drew on large sheets, varying in size from c. 30-50 cm x c. 50-60 cm.
a. Illustrated magazines.
3. Van Gogh wonders how drawings are transferred to wood-blocks in order to made wood engravings.
b. Read: ‘binnenkort’ (soon).
4. Mr van Gogh had celebrated his 60th birthday on 8 February 1882.
5. George Hendrik Breitner was one of the most talented pupils of the Dutch history painter Charles Rochussen. Rochussen advised Breitner to attend classes at the Academy in The Hague. See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1994-2, p. 24.
6. Breitner later revealed the trouble Van Gogh could cause in such situations. According to his own account, Breitner made discreetly small sketches in a sketchbook of modest size, whereas Van Gogh made large drawings, working frantically with a carpenter’s pencil. See exhib. cat. The Hague 1990, pp. 156, 162 (ill.). The surviving drawings, however, bear no traces of this working method. Regarding the soup kitchen, see letter 200, n. 4.
7. Christiaan Siebenhaar was a fencing teacher who had a fencing hall at Juffrouw Idastraat 16. Other rooms in this house were rented out as studios. Breitner was registered as living at this address in 1882-1883. See Adresboek 1882-1883; exhib. cat. The Hague 1990, p. 156; and Hefting 1970, p. 102 (n. 3).
8. It cannot be ascertained which ‘sketches’ by Bosboom and Henkes were on display at this viewing, which must have taken place on Saturday, 11 February 1882 in the ‘Hofje van Nieuwkoop’ (See Archief Pulchri and Archief Hardenberg in GAH, inv. no. 59.1-479). Henkes is known for his genre pieces situated in middle-class interiors, workshops and factories, as well as for his townscapes.
9. It is not known which of De Bock’s drawings Van Gogh is referring to here.
10. Theo’s salary was tied to the sales and profits he made as the manager of the boulevard Montmartre branch. See Account book 2002.