1. Theo must have replied to letter 536, in which the question of whether or not it was permissible to use black was raised.
2. Edouard Manet, The dead toreador, 1863 (Washington, DC, National Gallery of Art). Ill. 226 [226].
3. Vincent had praised Theo several times in the past for his graphic way with words; see for example letter 244.
4. Theo must have returned to Vincent’s views about the contemporary art trade in letter 527, where he also refers to tulip mania. See also letter 409, n. 5.
5. The historic tulip mania Van Gogh refers to here occurred in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century.
a. An anglicism, derived from the English expression ‘for better or worse’.
6. An allusion to the colours in Autumn landscape with four trees (F 44 / JH 962 [2540]).
7. Van Gogh may have taken this description from Charles Blanc, who talks about ‘the orchestration of colours’ both in Grammaire des arts du dessin and in Les artistes de mon temps (Blanc 1870, p. 607, and Blanc 1876, p. 28). The descriptions of Dupré’s paintings are too general to permit of identification.
b. See for the word form ‘bitumeux’ (bituminous): letter 458.
8. See for the anecdote in which this expression occurs: letter 449, in which Van Gogh copied out the relevant passage from Charles Blanc’s Les artistes de mon temps.
9. This phrase derives from Van Gogh’s quotation from Blanc’s Les artistes de mon temps with regard to Delacroix: see letter 536, n. 20.
10. See for this question about whether colours should or should not be painted true to life, the quotation from Bracquemond’s Du dessin et de la couleur: letter 531, n. 2.
11. Van Gogh must have been referring here to the autumn landscape Avenue of poplars (F 45 / JH 959 [2538]). Cf. letter 542, n. 15.
12. ‘Peindre de chic’, a term used in artists’ studios to distuingish it from painting from life.
13. The so-called July monarchy (1830-1848), when Louis-Philippe i, Duke of Orleans, was King of France. During this period the French state encouraged the arts in an unprecedented manner. Cf. Michael Marrinan, Painting politics for Louis-Philippe. Art and ideology in Orléanist France, 1830-1848. New Haven and London 1988.
14. See for Israëls’s The Zandvoort fisherman [3063]: letter 534, n. 19.
15. Paolo Veronese, The marriage at Cana, 1562-1563 (Paris, Musée du Louvre). Ill. 1406 [1406]. Van Gogh’s opinion corresponds closely with what Blanc had written about Veronese’s work in Les artistes de mon temps (see Blanc 1876, p. 77).
16. This saying is regularly quoted in the literature as one of Gustave Doré’s dictums, however no contemporary source has been traced.
17. Still life with Bible (F 117 / JH 946 [2535]).
18. In letter 538 Van Gogh tells Theo that he will be sending two autumn landscapes; see n. 2 there. In letter 542 he says that he will take Avenue of poplars (F 45 / JH 959 [2538]) with him to Antwerp.
The four autumn landscapes are the said Avenue of poplars (F 45 / JH 959 [2538]), Autumn landscape with four trees (F 44 / JH 962 [2540]), Autumn landscape (F 119 / JH 949 [2536]) and The parsonage garden with figures (F 124 / JH 955 [2537]).
[2538] [2538] [2540] [2536] [2537]