Back to site

RM19 To Willemien van Gogh. Auvers-sur-Oise, on or about Wednesday, 21 May 1890.

No. RM19 (Brieven 1990 875, Complete Letters W21)
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Willemien van Gogh
Date: Auvers-sur-Oise, on or about Wednesday, 21 May 1890

Source status
Original manuscript

Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b721 V/1962

This is the unsent beginning of a letter, which was ultimately rewritten, resulting in letter 879 of 5 June. See Hulsker 1998, p. 47. This fragment was probably written on one of Van Gogh’s first days in Auvers, which is why we have dated it on or about Wednesday, 21 May 1890.

original text
Ma chère soeur,
Depuis quelques jours déjà j’aurais voulu répondre à ta bonne lettre que j’ai reçue encore à St Remy. Cela n’allait plus là-bas et j’y devenais plustot malade davantage par le traitement.
A Paris cela a été une grande joie pour moi de revoir Theo et de faire connaissance avec Jo et le petit. Jo a fait sur moi une impression excellente, elle est charmante et bien simple et brave. Oui cela me parait aller vraiment aussi bien que possible pour le moment.
Et quant à moi je redoute encore pour le moment le bruit et les tracas de Paris et je suis immediatement parti pour la campagne – dans un vieux village.
Il y a ici des toits de chaume moussus qui sont superbes et dont certainement je ferai quelque chôse.
Puis je crois que le médecin auquel je suis recommandé1 me laissera faire absolument comme si rien n’était.
A St Remy les derniers jours j’ai encore travaillé avec rage. des grands bouquets de fleurs, des iris violets,2 de grands bouquets de roses.3 des paysages.4
Cela a été drôle de revoir toutes mes toiles depuis le commencement de ce que je suis parti.
Mais j’aurais bien voulu que tu eusses encore vu les vergers d’oliviers que j’ai rapporté à présent, à ciels jaunes, roses, bleus, assez différents, je crois que c’est là des toiles qui n’ont encore guère été peints comme cela.5 Les autres jusqu’à present les peignaient toujours en gris.
J’ai vu avec un immense plaisir l’exposition du champ de Mars6 où il y a beaucoup de choses que j’aime fort.

My dear sister,
For a few days now I would have liked to reply to your kind letter, which I received while still in St-Rémy. Things weren’t working out there any more, and I was becoming rather iller through the treatment.
In Paris it was a great joy for me to see Theo again and to meet Jo and the little one. Jo made an excellent impression upon me, she’s charming and very simple and good. Yes it really seems to me to be going as well as possible for the moment.
And as for myself, for the moment I still fear the noise and the bustle of Paris and I left immediately for the country – to an old village.
Here there are roofs of mossy thatch which are superb, and of which I’ll certainly do something.  1v:2
Then I think that the doctor to whom I’ve been recommended1 will absolutely let me be as if nothing were wrong.
In the last few days at St-Rémy I worked in a frenzy. Big bouquets of flowers, violet irises,2 big bouquets of roses.3 Landscapes.4
It was odd to see all my canvases from the beginning again, from the time I left.
But I would very much have liked you to have seen the olive groves that I’ve brought with me now, with yellow, pink, blue skies, quite different, I think that these are canvases that haven’t yet been painted like this.5 Up to now the others always painted them in grey.  1v:3
I was very pleased to see the exhibition at the Champ de Mars,6 where there are many things I like a lot.
1. Dr Gachet.
2. Irises in a vase (F 678 / JH 1977 ) and Irises in a vase (F 680 / JH 1978 ).
3. Roses in a vase (F 681 / JH 1976 ) and Roses in a vase (F 682 / JH 1979 ).
4. The landscape paintings Van Gogh made in Saint-Rémy after his last spell of illness included The garden of the asylum with dandelions and tree-trunks (F 676 / JH 1970 ), Meadow in the garden of the asylum (F 672 / JH 1975 ), Green wheatfield (F 718 / JH 1727 ) and Road with a cypress and star (F 683 / JH 1982 ). Cf. letter 891, in which Van Gogh reports the receipt of canvases from Saint-Rémy. According to Van Tilborgh, Field with green wheat (F 807 / JH 1980) is probably from Auvers and Couple walking among olive trees in a mountainous landscape with crescent moon (F 704 / JH 1981 ) presumably originated earlier.
5. With regard to these paintings of olive groves with coloured skies, see RM21, nn. 4-7.
6. At the time of the Salon of the Société des Artistes Français an exhibition was also held at the Champs de Mars by the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, under the direction of Meissonier, showing the work of artists such as Puvis de Chavannes, Carolus-Duran and Rodin. See exhib. cat. Paris 1890-4 and cf. RM21, n. 10.