1. Félix Bracquemond, Du dessin et de la couleur; see letter 531, n. 2.
2. Van Gogh meant the theory of complementary colours.
3. Bracquemond wrote in Du dessin et de la couleur: ‘As Modelling contains the greater part of what defines the word drawing, it should in its specific applications be taken for drawing itself ... modelling is therefore also drawing’ (Le modelé contenant la plus grande partie de ce que définit le mot dessin, il doit, dans ses applications propres, être pris pour le dessin lui-même ... modeler, c’est donc aussi dessiner). See Bracquemond 1885, pp. 116-117, 119.
4. Van Gogh made a series of still lifes in the autumn of 1885 and it is difficult to establish with certainty which specific ones he means here; there are several works featuring baskets of potatoes and fruit. The ‘copper kettle’ is probably Still life with a brass cauldron and jug (F 51 / JH 925 [2527]). See further letter 535, n. 1, for the works sent later.
5. See for the new instalment in Lhermitte’s print series ‘Les mois rustiques’ letter 533, n. 1.
6. The firm of Schoenfeld in Düsseldorf (now Lukas Künstlerfarben und -materialien (Dr. Fr. Schoenfeld GmbH & Co.)), established in 1862, was a well-known paint manufacturer. According to Anton Kerssemakers’s recollection, Van Gogh’s purchase must have meant a significant outlay: ‘in fact he owned nothing of value. Everything bespoke a lack of money but he put everything to good use, made many objects himself or had them made by an ordinary carpenter working to his instructions, such as an easel, paint-boxes, perspective frame, stool, everything! Only once did he order a small paint-box of lacquered tin from Schoenfeld of Düsseldorf, and he went to great trouble to get it’ (Letter to Johan Briedé, 23 June 1914, FR b1423).
7. The potato eaters (F 82 / JH 764 [2510]).
8. Of the known still lifes there are five that are clearly larger than most of the rest: F 59 / JH 921, F 51 / JH 925 [2527], F 107 / JH 933 [2531], F 106 / JH 936 and F 102 / JH 937. Assuming that Van Gogh is saying here that he painted one still life on top of another, the middle three no longer qualify because X-radiographs show that the compositions underneath are not still lifes. X-rays of the other two works are not available.
Van Tilborgh and Vellekoop assume that these are not two works painted one on top of the other and that Van Gogh started on a new canvas; they identify this new canvas as F 107 / JH 933 [2531] (see cat. Amsterdam 1999, p. 175, cat. no. 32).
[591] [2527] [2531] [592] [593] [2531]
9. Mineral blue is an indigo blue pigment, slightly coarser and lighter than Prussian blue. See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1993, p. 68 (n. 21).