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024 To Betsy Tersteeg. Helvoirt, Tuesday, 7 July 1874.

No. 024 (Brieven 1990 024, Complete Letters -)
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Betsy Tersteeg
Date: Helvoirt, Tuesday, 7 July 1874

Source status
Original manuscript

Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. d410 V/1962

The letter was written in the little sketchbook that Van Gogh filled during his stay in Helvoirt and presented to Betsy Tersteeg, the daughter of Van Gogh’s former superior H.G. Tersteeg. Van Gogh says that he’s writing the letter on the day that Theo, who was also in Helvoirt, was leaving (see ll. 3-4). Considering that in any case Theo was back in The Hague on 10 July (cf. letter 25 and FR b2710, both dated 10 July) and that by that day letters from him had already reached Helvoirt, he must have left there several days before 10 July. Vincent and Anna set out for London on Tuesday, 14 July and, according to Mr van Gogh, they took the same train that Theo had taken (FR b2710). We thus assume that Theo’s departure for The Hague, and thus Vincent’s writing of the letter, also took place on a Tuesday, which must therefore have been 7 July.


  1. Landscape with trees (F - / JH -), in sketchbook
  2. Tree-lined avenue (F - / JH -), in sketchbook
  3. Studies of landscapes, a church tower and a woman’s head (F - / JH -), in sketchbook

original text
Mijn lieve Betsy.
Ik had dit boekje voor je willen volteekenen,1 maar vandaag gaat Theo weg2 & ik heb er dus geen tijd meer voor. Je moet het nu maar nemen zooals het is & als ik dan ’t volgend jaar weer terug kom dan maak ik weer een nieuw. Aanstaanden maandag3 ga ik met mijn zusje Anna weer naar Londen terug; naar het huis dat ik voor je uitgeteekend heb4 & dan ga ik weer in het stoombootje dat ik  1v:2 hierin geteekend heb5 varen. Nu Betsy, à Dieu, tot het volgend jaar.

[sketch A]  3r:4
[sketch B]  4r:5
[sketch C]
Dearest Betsy,
I had wanted to fill this little book with drawings for you,1 but Theo is leaving today,2 so I don’t have any more time. You’ll just have to have it the way it is, and when I come back next year I’ll make a new one. Next Monday3 I’m going back to London with my sister Anna, to the house I’ve drawn for you,4 and then I’ll be travelling on the little steamboat that I’ve  1v:2 drawn here.5 Well, Betsy, adieu, until next year.

[sketch A]
[sketch B]
[sketch C]
1. This letter is written in a little sketchbook containing three drawings by Van Gogh (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. d410 V/1965). He filled two more little sketchbooks for Betsy. Cf. Szymanska 1967, esp. pp. 7-19, 70-73; and Van der Wolk 1987, pp. 14-15, 18.
2. In the weekend of 4-5 July the Van Gogh family was together in Helvoirt in connection with the departure of Vincent and Anna for London (FR b2709 and b2710). Van Gogh’s father wrote in Anna’s poetry album that on the fifth they ‘were united with all of the family’ and that Vincent and Anna were present at the Lord’s Supper (FR b4415).
3. Their departure actually took place on Tuesday, 14 July (see Date).
4. A drawing which Van Gogh made for Betsy of the house where he lived in London has not survived.
5. This drawing of a steamboat has not survived.