Dear brother and sister,
Jo’s letter was really like a gospel for me, a deliverance from anguish which I was caused by the rather difficult and laborious hours for us all that I shared with you.1 It’s no small thing when all together we feel the daily bread in danger, no small thing when for other causes than that we also feel our existence to be fragile.2
Once back here3 I too still felt very saddened, and had continued to feel the storm that threatens you also weighing upon me. What can be done – you see I usually try to be quite good-humoured, but my life, too, is attacked at the very root, my step also is faltering. I feared – not completely – but a little nonetheless – that I was a danger to you, living at your expense – but Jo’s letter clearly proves to me that  1v:2 you really feel that for my part I am working and suffering like you.
There – once back here I set to work again – the brush however almost falling from my hands and – knowing clearly what I wanted I’ve painted another three large canvases since then. They’re immense stretches of wheatfields under turbulent skies, and I made a point of trying to express sadness, extreme loneliness.4 You’ll see this soon, I hope – for I hope to bring them to you in Paris as soon as possible, since I’d almost believe that these canvases will tell you what I can’t say in words, what I consider healthy and fortifying about the countryside.
Now the third canvas is Daubigny’s garden,  1v:3 a painting I’d been thinking about ever since I’ve been here.5
I hope with all my heart that the planned journey may provide you with a little distraction.6
I often think of the little one, I believe that certainly it’s better to bring up children than to expend all one’s nervous energy in making paintings, but what can you do, I myself am now, at least I feel I am, too old to retrace my steps or to desire something else. This desire has left me, although the moral pain of it remains.
I very much regret not having seen Guillaumin again, but it pleases me that he’s seen my canvases.
If I’d waited for him I would probably have stayed to talk  1r:4 with him in such a way as to miss my train.
Wishing you luck and good heart and relative prosperity, please tell Mother and Sister sometime that I think of them very often, besides this morning I have a letter from them and will reply shortly.
Handshakes in thought.

Ever yours,

My money won’t last me very long this time, as on my return I had to pay the baggage costs from Arles.7 I retain very good memories of this trip to Paris. A few months ago I little dared hope to see our friends again. I thought that Dutch lady had a great deal of talent.8
Lautrec’s painting, portrait of a female musician, is quite astonishing, it moved me when I saw it.9


Br. 1990: 903 | CL: 649
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh and Jo van Gogh-Bonger
Date: Auvers-sur-Oise, on or about Thursday, 10 July 1890

1. This letter from Jo van Gogh-Bonger is not known.
2. Vincent is referring here to his own fragile health, as well as the health problems of Theo and his family.
3. Vincent had visited Theo and Jo in Paris on Sunday, 6 July (see letter 897). Jo wrote in the introduction to her edition of the letters: ‘In the first days of July, Vincent came again to see us in Paris; we were worn out by the child’s serious indisposition – Theo had again conceived the plan to leave Goupil in order to start a business of his own, Vincent was not satisfied with the room the paintings are stored in, so we talked about moving to a larger apartment, so they were days of worry and tension.
There were also constant visitors for Vincent, including Aurier, who had written his famous article about Vincent shortly before this, and now looked at all the work again with the painter himself, and Toulouse-Lautrec, who stayed to have lunch with us and had the biggest laugh with Vincent about an undertaker’s assistant, whom they met on the stairs. Guillaumin would also have come, but it was too much for Vincent, he didn’t wait for his visit, and went back to Auvers in great haste; overfatigued and overwrought, as appears from his last letters and from his last paintings, in which one feels imminent disaster, coming closer like the black birds that race across the field in the storm’ (Brieven 1914, pp. lxii-lxiii).
Vincent’s visit did not go smoothly. On 31 July 1890, Jo wrote to Theo: ‘If only I’d been a bit kinder to him when he was with us!’ and on 1 August: ‘How sorry I was for being impatient with him the last time’ (FR b4245 and b2060; Brief happiness 1999, pp. 276-277).
4. Van Gogh later added ‘de la solitude extrême’ (extreme loneliness). Judging by the description, the most likely possibilities are Wheatfield under troubled skies (F 778 / JH 2097 [2936]) and Wheatfield with crows (F 779 / JH 2117 [2942]); they are, moreover, the same format as the third canvas (see n. 5). Cf. also exhib. cat. New York 1986, pp. 275-276.
[2936] [2942]
5. Van Gogh painted two large canvases of Daubigny’s garden: Daubigny’s garden (F 776 / JH 2104 [2939]) and Daubigny’s garden (F 777 / JH 2105 [2940]). The one referred to here is the first version, F 777 / JH 2105 [2940]. See exhib. cat. New York, pp. 284-285.
[2939] [2940] [2940]
6. Theo, Jo and little Vincent left on 15 July for Leiden. Jo then travelled on to Amsterdam to stay with her family while she and the baby regained their strength. Theo was most likely in The Hague on 16 July. He then travelled via Antwerp to Brussels, returning to Paris on Friday evening, 18 July. He was planning to go again to the Netherlands and spend his holidays there with his family (see Brief happiness 1999, pp. 245-248, and letter 901).
7. Van Gogh’s furniture from Arles had been sent by the Ginouxs to Auvers (see letter 882).
8. The sculptor Elisabeth Sara Clasina de Swart (see Brieven 1914, vol. 3, p. 461). Vincent had met her on Sunday, 6 July.
9. For Toulouse-Lautrec’s Mademoiselle Dihau at the piano [0], about which Theo had written earlier, see letter 858, n. 8. Van Gogh must have seen it during his visit to Paris. His surprised reaction can perhaps be explained by the fact that he had painted the same subject a short while before in Marguerite Gachet at the piano (F 772 / JH 2048 [2932]).
[0] [2932]