[Letterhead: Goupil Paris]

Paris, 31 May 1875

My dear Theo,
Thanks for your letter of this morning.
Yesterday I saw the Corot exhibition.1 It included a painting of the ‘Mount of Olives’;2 I’m glad he painted that.
On the right, a group of olive trees, dark against the darkening blue sky; in the background hills covered with shrubs and a couple of tall trees, above them the evening star.
There are 3 Corots at the Salon, very beautiful, the most beautiful one, painted shortly before his death, ‘Women cutting wood’, will probably appear as a woodcut in L’Illustration or Le Monde Illustré.3
I’ve also seen the Louvre and the Luxembourg, as you can imagine.
The Ruisdaels in the Louvre are magnificent, especially ‘The bush’, ‘The breakwater’ and ‘The ray of sunlight’.4  1r:2 I wish you could see the small Rembrandts there, the ‘Supper at Emmaus’,5 and two pendants, ‘The philosophers’.6
I recently saw Jules Breton with his wife and two daughters.7 Physically he reminded me of J. Maris, though he has dark hair.
When I have the chance I’ll send you a book of his, ‘Les champs et la mer’, which contains all his poems.8
He has a beautiful painting at the Salon, ‘The feast of St John’, peasant girls dancing on a summer evening round the St John’s bonfire, in the background the village with its church and the moon above it.9

Dance, young maidens, dance,
As you sing your songs of love!
Tomorrow, at break of day,
You’ll go, hastening to ply your sickles.10

There are now 3 paintings by him in the Luxembourg. ‘Procession through a cornfield’, ‘Women gleaning’ and ‘Alone’.11



Br. 1990: 034 | CL: 27
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Paris, Monday, 31 May 1875

1. Shortly after the death of Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, a retrospective exhibition of his work was held in the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts. There were 226 works on display.
2. The painting Van Gogh mentions is Christ on the Mount of Olives, 1849 (Langres, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Langres). Ill. 1705 [1705]. See exhib. cat. Paris 1875-2, p. 52, cat. no. 96.
3. The Corots at the Salon of 1875 were: Women cutting wood, Pleasures of the evening (danse antique) and Biblis, all dating from 1874-1875 (present whereabouts unknown). The wood engraving Bûcheronnes (Women cutting wood) by Auguste Joliet was later published in Le Monde Illustré 24 (5 June 1880), p. 348. Ill. 1706 [1706]. Exhib. cat.. Paris 1875-1, p. 77, cat. nos. 519-521; Robaut 1965, vol. 1, p. 33; vol. 3, pp. 322-327, cat. nos. 2195-2197.
[38] [1706]
4. The paintings in question are Jacob van Ruisdael’s The bush; The storm (this is what Van Gogh probably had in mind when he mentioned L’estacade (The breakwater) – called L’estacade aux eaux rousses (The breakwater with russet waters) in letter 325; and finally, The ray of sunlight (Paris, Musée du Louvre). Ill. 1707 [1707], ill. 1708 [1708] and ill. 1709 [1709].
[1707] [1708] [1709]
5. Rembrandt, The pilgrims at Emmaus, 1648 (Paris, Musée du Louvre) measures 68 x 65 cm. Ill. 1710 [1710].
6. Rembrandt, Philosopher in meditation (An old man in an interior with winding staircase), 1632 and Philosopher with an open book (The philosopher in contemplation), c. 1640-1645 (Paris, Musée du Louvre). They measure 28 x 34 cm and 28.2 x 34.4 cm, respectively. Ill. 1711 [1711] and ill. 1712 [1712]. The attributions of these works are now disputed: see Bruyn 1986, vol. 2, pp. 638-644, no. C51. The second painting has been attributed to Salomon Koninck.
[1711] [1712]
7. On 29 April 1858, Jules Breton married Elodie Breton-De Vigne, the daughter of Breton’s former teacher Félix De Vigne. Contrary to what Van Gogh thought, they had but one daughter, Virginie, who was also Breton’s only pupil. She grew up with her cousin Julie, whom Van Gogh had presumably taken to be a daughter of Breton. Cf. exhib. cat. Omaha 1982, pp. 114-115, cat. no. 77.
9. Jules Breton, The feast of Saint John, 1875 (private collection). Ill. 1713 [1713].
10. The lines are the last stanza of the poem ‘La Saint-Jean’, taken from Breton 1875, pp. 55-57 (quotation on p. 57).
11. The first of these paintings by Jules Breton in the Musée du Luxembourg is The blessing of the corn in Artois (Procession through a cornfield), 1857 (Arras, Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Arras, Ancienne Abbaye Saint Vaast). Ill. 1714 [1714]; the second is Calling home the gleaners, 1859 (Paris, Musée d’Orsay). Ill. 1715 [1715]. Alone actually refers to Evening, 1860 (Cuisery, Saône-et-Loine, Hôtel de Ville). Ill. 1716 [1716]. Breton sometimes referred to the last work as ‘my alone’.
[1714] [1715] [1716]