1. Léon Augustin Lhermitte, Les vendanges (The grape harvest), engraved by Clément Edouard Bellenger, the month of September in the series ‘Les mois rustiques’, in Le Monde Illustré 29 (26 September 1885), Supplement to no. 1487. Ill. 222 [222].
2. There were several dozen works by Poussin in the Louvre. Most of them came from the former collection of Louis xiv. After the trip they took together, Theo and Andries Bonger really got a taste for it – in this period they went to the Louvre together every Sunday morning (FR b1821).
3. Van Gogh had not been back to Paris since he left Goupil & Cie at the end of March 1876. In Nuenen he was working in artistic and cultural isolation.
4. In July 1885 the Rijksmuseum opened in a new building on Stadhouderskade designed by the Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers. Van Gogh was in Amsterdam from Tuesday, 6 to Thursday, 8 October; see letter 534.
5. Anton Kerssemakers.
6. See for painting still lifes: letter 532, n. 8.
7. This is probably Baskets of potatoes (F 107 / JH 933 [2531]).
8. See for the conflict with the clergymen in Nuenen: letter 531.
9. There are five known still lifes of the nests that Van Gogh had collected in June (see letter 507), all entitled Still life with birds’ nests (F 108 / JH 940), (F 109r / JH 942), (F 111 / JH 939 [2533]), (F 112 / JH 938) and (F 110 / JH 941). It is not possible to work out which of these were now ‘finished’ and which were still being worked on. See for those sent later: letter 535, n. 1.
10. This notion is based on what Bracquemond said about Poussin in Du dessin et de la couleur: ‘more than any other master, he provides an example of the search for the contrasts between light and dark lines, leaving aside any form of representation. That is, by conceiving a work of art solely in terms of its essence, its clarity, the only forms that he depicts in their entirety in the final work are those that are strictly necessary’ (il donne l’exemple, plus qu’aucun autre maître, de la recherche du contraste des lignes claires et obscures, abstraction faite d’une représentation quelconque. C’est-à-dire que, ne concevant une oeuvre que par sa substance essentielle, la clarté, il ne retient des formes qu’il représentera complètes dans l’oeuvre définitive que le strict nécessaire) (see Bracquemond 1885, p. 208; cf. Van Uitert 1983, p. 29).
11. As far as we know Van Gogh did not in fact do this.