The Hague, January 1873

My dear Theo,
I heard from home that you arrived safe and sound in Brussels, and that your first impression was good.
I understand completely how strange it will be in the beginning, but be of good heart, you’ll surely succeed. You must write to me soon about how things are going and how your boarding-house suits you.1
I hope that the latter will be all right. Pa wrote that you’re good friends with Schmidt.2 Bravo, I think he’s a fine fellow, and one who’ll be sure to show you the ropes.  1v:2
How pleasant those days at Christmas were, I think of them so often; they’ll also long be remembered by you, as they were also your last days at home. You must write to me in particular about what kind of paintings you see and what you find beautiful.
I’m busy now at the beginning of the year. My new year began well, I was given a monthly rise of 10 guilders, so I now earn 50 guilders a month, and on top of that I received a 50-guilder bonus.3 Isn’t that wonderful? I now hope to be entirely self-supporting.  1v:3
I’m really very happy that you’re also part of this firm. It’s such a fine firm, the longer one is part of it the more enthusiastic one becomes.
The beginning is perhaps more difficult than in other jobs, but keep your chin up and you’ll get along.
Do ask Schmidt what the ‘Album Corot. lithographies par Emile Vernier4 costs. We’ve been asked about it in the shop, and I know it’s in stock in Brussels.
The next time I write I’ll send you my portrait;5 I had it taken last Sunday.
Have you been to the Palais Ducal yet?6  1r:4 Do go when you get the chance.
How is Uncle Hein? I feel so sorry for him, and hope so much that he’ll get better.7 Give him and Aunt8 my warm regards.
Did Uncle Cent9 stop off at Brussels?
Well, old chap, keep well, all your acquaintances here send their regards and hope things will go well for you. Bid good-day to Schmidt and Eduard10 for me, and let me hear from you soon.

Your loving brother

You know that my address is Lange Beestenmarkt 32 or Maison Goupil & Cie, Plaats.


Br. 1990: 003 | CL: 3
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: The Hague, mid-January 1873

1. Theo boarded with the family of the minister Hendrik van den Brink, place St Catherine 5 in Brussels (cf. FR b2594, b2608 and SAB).
2. Tobias Victor Schmidt was Theo’s boss at Goupil & Co. in Brussels. He called himself ‘Marchand de gravures et tableaux’ (Dealer in engravings and paintings) (SAB, Civil registration).
3. Vincent sent 25 guilders of this bonus to his parents. Mr van Gogh wrote to Theo: ‘Vincent sent us 25 guilders of his savings to help us out. Lies and Willemien needed new clothes and Ma will use the money for that. How good of Vincent. So he realizes that he wants to be of assistance to us, and he sets a good example for the others’ (FR b2596, 24 January 1873). At this time Theo was earning a starting salary of 30 francs, or approximately 15 guilders a month (FR b2604, 19 February).
4. Emile Louis Vernier made a great many reproductions after the work of Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, including the collection of Emile Vernier. Douze lithographies d’après Corot. Notice par Philippe Burty. Paris, Librairie artistique, 1870 (without mention of price). Below the lithographs is recorded ‘Impr. Lemercier’. The lithographs were made after works in the collections of, among others, Hadingue, Gravet, Désiré, Rouart and Sensier (three pieces), including the Girl reading (no. 9) (Paris, BNF, Cabinet des Estampes). Ill. 1694 [1694].
5. This portrait photograph was taken by the photographer J.M.W. de Louw (FR b4784). Ill. 1695 [1695].
6. The Palais des Académies – also called the Palais Ducal – in rue Ducale housed the Musée des Plâtres and the Musée Moderne.
7. Hendrik (Hein) Vincent van Gogh, retired art dealer in Brussels, brother of Mr van Gogh. He suffered from an unidentified wasting disease.
8. Uncle Hein’s second wife was Maria van Gogh-Boon, Aunt Mietje.
9. Vincent van Gogh, retired art dealer and collector, brother of Mr van Gogh.
a. Meaning: ‘Did he stop off, did he interrupt his journey?’
10. This colleague of Theo at Goupil’s in Brussels is most likely the later landscape painter Edouard Michel Ferdinand Hamman, son of the artist Edouard Jean Conrad Hamman. In 1878 Uncle Vincent van Gogh wrote to Theo, mentioning the Hamman family and ‘Eduard’ in connection with one another : ‘Have you ever gone to see the Hamman family? They’re home again. Eduard will also be coming back from his studies around 15 Oct.’ (FR b5342; cf. letters 41 and 189). Eduard left on 15 October 1873 (FR b2669). See Hostyn 1978, pp. 138, 143.