The Hague, 28 Jan. 1873

My dear Theo,
It’s good that you answered me so quickly. I’m glad that things are to your liking and that you’ve been lucky with your boarding-house. Be of good heart if things sometimes get difficult, everything will come right later on, and no one can do what he really wants in the beginning.
How sorry I am about Uncle Hein. I sincerely hope he’ll get better, but Theo, I fear he won’t. Last summer he was still  1v:2 so full of ambition, and had so many plans and told me that business was going so well. It is indeed sad.1
Last Sunday I was at Uncle Cor’s2 and had a very pleasant day there and, as you can well imagine, saw many beautiful things. As you know, Uncle has just been to Paris and has brought home splendid paintings and drawings. I stayed in Amsterdam on Monday morning and went to the museums again. Did you know that a large, new building will take the place of the Trippenhuis in Amsterdam? That’s fine with me; the Trippenhuis is too small, and many paintings hang in such a way that one can’t see them properly.3
How I’d like to see that painting by Cluysenaar.4 I’ve seen only a few of his paintings,5 and those I find very beautiful. Write and tell me whether that other painting is by Alfred Stevens,6 or otherwise what his Christian name is. I know the photo of the Rotta,7 and even saw the painting at the Brussels exhibition.8 Do keep me constantly informed about whatever you see, that always gives me pleasure. The album whose title you gave me isn’t the one I meant, which contains only lithographs after Corot.9 Thanks anyway for taking the trouble.
I expect a letter from Anna soon.10 She’s rather lazy about writing these days. You ought to surprise her with a letter sometime, that would give her so much pleasure. You must be very busy, but that’s a good thing.  1r:4
It’s cold here, and people are already skating on the flooded fields. I go walking as much as I can. I’m curious to know whether you’ll find an opportunity to go skating. Herewith my portrait, but don’t say anything about it when you write home. As you know, it’s for Pa’s birthday,11 on which I congratulate you ahead of the event.
My warm regards to Uncle and Aunt,12 also to Mr Schmidt and Eduard.13

Ever your loving brother

All at the Haanebeeks’, Aunt Fie’s14 and the Rooses’ send you their compliments. Adieu, I wish you well.


Br. 1990: 004 | CL: 4
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: The Hague, Tuesday, 28 January 1873

1. Poor health had forced Uncle Hein to retire from art dealing in 1872.
2. Cornelis (Cor) Marinus van Gogh, brother of Mr van Gogh and often called ‘C.M.’ by family members, had a bookshop and art gallery at Keizersgracht 453 in Amsterdam.
3. The Rijksmuseum was housed at the time in the so-called Trippenhuis at Kloveniersburgwal 29 in Amsterdam. The building’s accommodations and suitability were the object of much criticism. See Honderd jaar Rijksmuseum 1985.
4. It is not known which painting by Alfred Cluysenaar this refers to.
5. The following works by Cluysenaar were on display at the Brussels Salon which Van Gogh had visited in 1872: Mazeppa; Portraits de MM. Paul et Edmond R. (Mazeppa; Portraits of Messieurs Paul and Edmond R.) and a Portrait (Portrait). See exhib. cat. Brussels 1872, p. 30, cat. nos. 114-116.
6. Van Gogh underlined the Christian name of Alfred to distinguish him from his brother Joseph Stevens, who was also a painter.
7. Antonio Rotta was represented at Brussels by the painting Il ciabattino (The cobbler). Exhib. cat. Brussels 1872, p. 78, cat. no. 639. Three works bearing this title and depicting similar themes have been found, an example being At the cobbler’s, 1867 (present whereabouts unknown), sold at Christie’s (London) on 24 June 1988 (no. 43). Ill. 1295 [1295].
8. In the summer of 1872, Van Gogh had visited the triennial salon, ‘Exposition générale des Beaux-Arts’ (General Exhibition of Fine Arts) at Brussels, which was held from 15 August to 15 October; see letter 13.
9. The way in which he asked about the album in letter 3 suggests that Van Gogh was referring to the album of lithographs by Emile Louis Vernier after work by Camille Corot. Apparently Theo had sent the title of an album containing work by Corot.
10. Anna Cornelia van Gogh, Van Gogh’s eldest sister, was attending boarding school in Leeuwarden in the north of the Netherlands.
11. Mr van Gogh would turn 51 on 8 February.
12. Uncle Hein and Aunt Mietje in Brussels.