I want to do figures, figures and more figures, it’s stronger than me, this series of bipeds from the baby to Socrates1
and from the black-haired woman with white skin to the woman with yellow hair and a sunburnt face the colour of brick.
Meanwhile, I mostly do other things.
Thanks for your letter; this time I’m writing in great haste and really worn out.
I’m very pleased that you’ve joined Gauguin
Ah, I do have a new figure all the same,3
which is absolutely a continuation of certain studies of heads done in Holland; I showed you them once, with a painting from that time, potato eaters.4
I wish I could show it to you.
Again it’s a study in which colour plays a role that the black and white of a drawing couldn’t convey.
I wanted to send you a very large and very carefully finished drawing of it.
Well — it turned into something entirely different
, while still being correct.5
Because once again the colour suggests the scorched air of harvest time at midday in the blistering heat, and without that it’s a different painting. I would dare to believe that you and Gauguin
would understand it, but how ugly they’ll find it! You fellows know what a peasant is, how much of the wild animal there is when you come across somebody pure-bred.6
I also have a man unloading a sand boat. That is, there are two boats, purplish pink, in Veronese green water, with yellow-grey sand, wheelbarrows, planks, a little blue and yellow man.
All of it seen from the top of a quay overhanging everything in a bird’s-eye view. No sky. It’s just a sketch, or rather, a rough sketch done out in the mistral.7
Next, I’m attempting to do dusty thistles with a great swarm of butterflies swirling above them.8
Oh, the beautiful sun down here in high summer; it beats down on your head and I have no doubt at all that it drives you crazy. Now being that way already, all I do is enjoy it.
I’m thinking of decorating my studio with half a dozen paintings of Sunflowers
A decoration in which harsh or broken yellows will burst against various blue backgrounds, from the palest Veronese to royal blue, framed with thin laths painted in orange lead.
Sorts of effects of stained-glass windows
of a Gothic church.10
Ah, my dear pals,11
we crazy ones, let’s anyway enjoy with our eyes, shall we?
Alas, nature gets paid in kind, and our bodies are despicable and sometimes a heavy burden. But since Giotto
, a sickly character,12
that’s the way things are.13
Oh, and nevertheless, what delight of the eye and what laughter, the toothless laughter of Rembrandt
the old lion, his head covered in a cloth, his palette in his hand.14
How I’d like to spend these present days in Pont-Aven, but anyway, I console myself by reconsidering the sunflowers.
I shake your hand firmly; more soon.