1. Vincent had included in letter 779 a new order for paints for the month of June. The replacement list sent with this letter is not known.
2. Among these twelve no. 30 canvases were the eleven paintings of which Vincent would send drawings to Theo a week later (see letter 784): Trees with ivy in the garden of the asylum (F 609 / JH 1693 [2789]), Cypresses (F 613 / JH 1746 [2807]), Cypresses (F 620 / JH 1748 [2809]), Fields with poppies (F 581 / JH 1751 [2811]), Wheatfield and cypresses (F 717 / JH 1756 [2816]), Starry night (F 612 / JH 1731 [2801]), Olive trees with the Alpilles in the background (F 712 / JH 1740 [2803]), Wheatfield (F 719 / JH 1725 [2798]), Wheatfield after a storm (F 611 / JH 1723 [2796]), Reaper (F 617 / JH 1753 [2813]), and the underlying depiction of Ravine (F 662 / JH 1804 [2853]); see letter 779, n. 5.
If indeed there was a twelfth canvas, the possibilities include Olive grove (F 585 / JH 1758 [2818]), Olive grove (F 715 / JH 1759 [2819]) and Green wheatfield with rising sun (F 720 / JH 1728).
[2789] [2807] [2809] [2811] [2816] [2801] [2803] [2798] [2796] [2813] [2853] [2818] [2819] [849]
3. Cypresses (F 613 / JH 1746 [2807]) and Cypresses (F 620 / JH 1748 [2809]).
[2807] [2809]
4. Van Gogh wrote this in letter 782.
5. The novel Le sens de la vie by Edouard Rod (1889) consists of four parts: ‘Mariage’, ‘Paternité’, ‘Altruisme’ and ‘Religion’. It is a sequel to the novel La course à la mort, in which the protagonist is interested only in selfish pleasures. In Le sens de la vie he assumes social responsibility and becomes bound up in married life and fatherhood, albeit after a good deal of scepticism and inner struggle. The first and second editions, which were published in Paris in 1889 in the series ‘Librairie Académique Didier’ at Perrin et Cie, ‘Libraires-Éditeurs’, state the price on the cover: 3.50 francs.
6. In 1887 Sadi Carnot was elected President of France by an overwhelming majority. He was known for his respectful attitude towards the church and encouraged the Ralliement (‘Rallying’; the acceptance of the Third Republic by the French monarchists). In May 1889 Carnot had spoken four times at the opening of the World Exhibition, where he called for peace and solidarity. See Patrick Harismendy, Sadi Carnot. L’ingénieur de la République. Paris 1995, esp. pp. 318-383. The connection between Carnot and Halévy’s L’abbé Constantin probably has to do with Van Gogh’s criticism of this peaceful novel, in which all conflict is avoided, as ‘terribly sweet and heavenly’ (see letter 626).
7. With regard to Voltaire’s Candide, see letter 568, n. 3. Here Van Gogh quotes from Voltaire’s Zadig, ou la destinée, ‘L’Ermite’ (The hermit) (chapter 18). See ed. Loïc Marcou. Paris 1996, p. 141. The protagonist, Zadig, has an experience similar to that of Candide: he, too, is forced to flee and subsequently experiences the outside world. While Candide comments on optimism, however, Zadig treats the connection between fate and chance. Voltaire’s view is moderately optimistic: evil and the absurdity of chance only seem to prevail.
8. Reaper (F 617 / JH 1753 [2813]).
[2813]
9. The third consignment of paintings from Arles (letter 767) contained the following paintings of sunflowers: F 453 / JH 1559 [2701], F 459 / JH 1560 [2702], F 454 / JH 1562 [2704], F 456 / JH 1561 [2703], F 458 / JH 1667 [2771], F 455 / JH 1668 [2772] and F 457 / JH 1666 [2770].
[2701] [2702] [2704] [2703] [2771] [2772] [2770]
10. As is often the case, Van Gogh’s use of the word ‘noir’ (black) must be interpreted as ‘dark’ (in this case dark green).
11. Montenard was known for his depiction of the warm Mediterranean sunlight in his Provençal landscapes and seascapes.
12. Van Gogh is probably referring to Pissarro’s statements about painting effects of colour and light, which he referred to in letters 620 and 707.
13. The letter sketch Cypresses (F - / JH 1750) was made after the painting of the same name F 613 / JH 1746 [2807].
[2807]
14. The two drawings after the paintings of cypresses (n. 2 above) are Cypresses (F 1525 / JH 1747 [2808]) and Cypresses (F 1524 / JH 1749 [2810]). The other two drawings Van Gogh refers to here cannot be identified; they were probably in the batch he sent to Theo a week later (see n. 2 above).
[2808] [2810]
15. On The archangel Raphael (no longer attributed to Rembrandt), see letter 781, n. 4.
[850]
16. Rembrandt, Abraham’s meal (Abraham receives the three angels), 1646 (present whereabouts unknown; Bredius 515). Ill. 353 [353]. Four figures are depicted in this work.
[353]
17. Regarding Rembrandt’s Pilgrims at Emmaus [1710], see letter 34, n. 5.
[1710]
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