1. The lithograph The potato eaters (F 1661 / JH 737 [2135]).
2. Van Gogh remained ignorant of Impressionism for a long time: see letter 288, n. 4.
3. A paraphrase of the quotation from Gigoux’s Causeries sur les artistes de mon temps which Van Gogh quoted in letter 494.
4. This anecdote derives from Dumesnil 1875: see letter 419, n. 8.
5. The new version of The potato eaters (F 82 / JH 764 [2510]).
6. Gerard Dou, known for his paintings with candlelit and lamplit effects, used strong chiaroscuro effects from the sixteen-fifties onwards in scenes of this type, like his Night school, c. 1623-1665 (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum).
7. Petrus van Schendel painted small interiors with effects of candlelight and moonlight, which clearly reveal the influence of Gerard Dou.
8. This may be Landscape with sunset (F 191 / JH 762 [2509]), although the sky is more orange than red.
9. This sentence derives from something said by Théophile Gautier which Van Gogh found in Sensier, La vie et l’oeuvre de J.F. Millet: ‘There is something imposing and stylish about this figure with its violent gesture, and proudly run-down bearing, which seems to be painted with the very soil which he sows’ (Il y a du grandiose et du style dans cette figure au geste violent, à la tournure fièrement délabrée, et qui semble peinte avec la terre qu’il ensemence) (Sensier 1881, p. 127). Quoted again in letter 499, 500, 505 and 506.
10. Anton Kerssemakers, with whom Van Gogh was in touch in this period.
11. Matthijs, Jacob or Willem Maris.
12. There is an echo here of what Emile Zola had written in ‘Les réalistes du Salon’ (Mon Salon): ‘I have no time for realism, in the sense that the word has no clear meaning for me ... that all I ask of the artist is to be personal and powerful’ (Je me moque du réalisme, en ce sens que ce mot ne représente rien de bien précis pour moi ... que je demande uniquement à l’artiste d’être personnel et puissant), and: ‘Therefore no more realism than anything else. Truth, if you like, and life, but above all, different flesh and different hearts interpreting nature in different ways. The definition of a work of art can only be as follows: A work of art is a corner of creation seen through a temperament.’ (Donc pas plus de réalisme que d’autre chose. De la vérité, si l’on veut, de la vie, mais surtout des chairs et des coeurs différents interprétant différemment la nature. La définition d’une oeuvre d’art ne saurait être autre chose que celle-ci: Une oeuvre d’art est un coin de la création vu à travers un tempérament.) Zola 1966-1970, vol. 12, pp. 807-810. Van Gogh alluded to this sentence on other occasions: see letter 361, n. 9.