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040 To Theo van Gogh. Paris, Friday, 13 August 1875.

No. 040 (Brieven 1990 040, Complete Letters 33)
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Paris, Friday, 13 August 1875

Source status
Original manuscript

Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b42 V/1962

Letter headed: ‘[Paris, le] 13 Août [187]5’.

original text
Goupil & Cie
Editeurs Imprimeurs
Estampes Françaises & Étrangères
Tableaux Modernes
Rue Chaptal, 9, PARIS.
Succursales à la Haye, Londres, Berlin, New-York.

Paris, le 13 Août [187]5

Waarde Theo,
Reeds eerder heb ik U willen schrijven. Ik ben blij dat Pa het beroep naar Etten heeft aangenomen;1 in de gegeven omstandigheden vind ik het ook goed dat Willemien met Anna meegaat.2 Ik zou dien Zondag dat gij te Helvoirt waart ook wel bij U allen hebben willen zijn;3 schreef ik U reeds ik dien dag, met Soek en zijne familie, te Ville d’Avray was.4 Het trof mij daar in het kerkje 3 schijen van Corot te vinden.─5
Zondag ll. & Zondag voor 14 dagen6 was ik in de kerk bij M. Mercier7 & hoorde Hem over “Toutes choses prouveront le bien de ceux qui aiment Dieu”8 (in ’t Hollandsch staat er “Hen die God liefhebben zullen alle dingen medewerken ten goede”) & over “Il fit l’homme à son image”,9 ’t was schoon & groot. Gij moet als gij kunt ook maar iederen Zondag naar de kerk gaan, al is het zoo heel mooi  1r:2 niet; doe dat, gij zult er geen spijt van hebben, zijt gij wel eens bij Ds Zubli geweest.─10
Op de lijst van wat ik op mijn kamer heb hangen heb ik nog vergeten:

N. Maes   La nativité11
Hamon   “Si j’étais l’hiver sombre”12
Ed. Frère   Les couturières13
do   Un tonnelier14
Francais   Dernier beau jour15
Ruyperez   L’imitation de Jesus Christ16
Bosboom   Cantabimus & Psallemus17

Ik doe mijn best om nog eene gravure “Rembrandt, Lecture de la bible”18 voor U te vinden, mogelijk zend ik U die dus in de eerste kist schijen. Heb ik u gezonden eene lith. Troyon, effet de matin?19 Français, derniers beaux jours?20 Zoo niet schrijf mij dit dan; ik heb ze dubbel.─ En nu, heb het goed, doe wel & zie niet om,21 voorzoover het mogelijk is, & geloof mij steeds

Uw liefh. broeder

Groet s.v.p. de Hr & Mevr. Tersteeg & Mauve voor mij, ook groeten bij V. Stockum, Haanebeek, Tante Fie,22 Roos, &c. Wat zegt gij van onze Anna?23

[Letterhead: Goupil Paris]

Paris, 13 August 1875

My dear Theo,
I had wanted to write to you earlier. I’m glad that Pa has accepted the call to Etten;1 under the circumstances I also think it good that Willemien is going along with Anna.2 I’d also have liked to be with all of you that Sunday at Helvoirt;3 have I already told you that I was with Soek and his family at Ville-d’Avray that day?4 I was surprised to find 3 paintings by Corot in the church there.5
On Sunday last and Sunday a fortnight ago6 I went to Mr Mercier’s7 church and heard him speak on ‘all things work together for good to them that love God’8 (in Dutch it says ‘for those who love God all things will work together for good’) and on ‘He created man in his own image’,9 it was glorious and grand. You should also go to church every Sunday if you can, even if it isn’t so very beautiful;  1r:2 do that, you won’t regret it. Have you ever been to hear the Rev. Zubli?10
In the list of what I have hanging in my room I forgot:

N. Maes   The nativity11
Hamon   ‘If I were sombre winter’12
Ed. Frère   The seamstresses13
ditto   A cooper14
Français   Last fine day15
Ruipérez   The imitation of Jesus Christ16
Bosboom   Cantabimus and psallemus17 

I’m doing my best to find another engraving of ‘Rembrandt, Reading the Bible’18 for you, perhaps I’ll be sending it to you in the first crate of paintings. Have I sent you a lithograph of Troyon, Morning effect?19 Français, Last fine days?20 If not, write and tell me; I have two of each. And now, I wish you well, do right and don’t look back,21 as much as you can, and believe me ever

Your loving brother

Please give my regards to Mr and Mrs Tersteeg and Mauve, also my regards to the Van Stockums, Haanebeeks, Aunt Fie,22 Rooses, &c. What do you think about our Anna?23
1. After a visit on 29 July to Etten, a village in the west of the province of North Brabant, Mr van Gogh agreed to accept the living there (FR b2351, 30 July 1875).
2. Because Etten was ‘not the right place’ and ‘offered too little’ for Vincent’s sister Willemien, it was decided that for the time being she would spend three months with Anna at Welwyn (Hertfordshire), a village north of London, where Anna had been teaching since the end of August 1874 (FR b2715). ‘Willemien herself is pleased with the plan’ (quoted from FR b2351, written by Mr and Mrs van Gogh to Theo). Anna and Willemien left for Welwyn together on Friday, 13 August (FR b2352).
3. On the weekend of 24 and 25 July, Theo had gone to visit his father at Helvoirt; Anna, Lies, Willemien and Cor were also there (FR b2350 and b2351).
4. Frans Soek, a Goupil employee, worked at the place de l’Opéra branch. The village of Ville-d’Avray is south-west of Paris, between Sèvres and Versailles.
5. Around 1849 Corot presented the church at Ville-d’Avray with the painting Saint Jerome (1837), and in 1855-1856 he had painted four scenes on the walls of the transept: Adam and Eve being driven out of Paradise; The baptism of Christ; Christ on the Mount of Olives and The Magdalen in the desert. Perhaps Van Gogh spoke only of three paintings because The baptism of Christ is not signed. See Robaut 1965, vol. 2, pp. 130-131, no. 366; pp. 338-339, nos. 1074-1077 and Jean Rousseau, Camille Corot. Paris 1884, pp. 55-61.
6. On both 8 August and 1 August.
7. Van Gogh is referring to Eugène Bersier, who was a minister in the L’Etoile quarter, avenue de la Grande Armée (near the Arc de Triomphe). His obituary appeared in the Bulletin Historique et Littéraire 38 (1889), pp. 670-672; see also Recueil de souvenirs de la vie d’Eugène Bersier. Paris (n.d.). Bersier was a well-known figure with a certain reputation, as evidenced by several mentions of his name in the letters of Andries Bonger, such as ‘I’d never heard clarity coupled with so much eloquence’ (FR b1583, 28 December 1879; also mentioned in b1581 and b1582). On 15 October 1878, Mrs van Gogh advised Theo to attend one of Rev. Bersier’s sermons (FR b2440).
8. Rom. 8:28.
9. Gen. 1:27; cf. also Gen. 9:6.
10. Everard Ambroise Zubli was the minister of the Walloon (French-speaking) congregation in The Hague. See Bulletin de la Commission pour l’Histoire des Eglises Wallonnes, vol. 1. The Hague 1887, pp. 199-200; F.H. Gagnebin, Liste des églises wallonnes des Pays-Bas et des pasteurs qui les ont desservies établie d’après les actes originaux. Leiden 1888, p. 31.
11. The etching La crèche (The crib) (also known as La nativité (The nativity) and as L’Adoration des bergers (The adoration of the shepherds)) by Dominique Vivant-Denon, after Nicolaes Maes, Adoration of the shepherds, 1658 (Montreal, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts). The print was exhibited at the 1795 Salon and was offered for sale in 1873 in the Catalogue des estampes gravées par ... Vivant Denon (Paris, BNF, Cabinet des Estampes). Ill. 1686 . See Fizelière 1873, no. 19.
12. Jean Louis Hamon, Si j’étais l’hiver sombre (If I were sombre winter), engraved by Leon Mariani (Paris, BNF, Cabinet des Estampes). Ill. 1687 . The original work is part of the decorative painting The four seasons, 1850, by Henry Picou, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Gustave Rodolphe Boulanger and Jean Louis Hamon (The Cleveland Museum of Art). Appearing below the print is a verse from a song: ‘Si j’étais l’hiver sombre, Que ferais-je, mon Dieu? A tes pauvres dans l’ombre, J’irais porter du feu...’ (If I were sombre winter, My God, what would I do? To your poor in the shadow, I would bring some fire).
13. For The seamstresses by Edouard Frère, see letter 37, n. 20.
14. Regarding ‘A cooper’ by Edouard Frère, cf. letter 37, n. 21.
15. Louis-François Français made a print after his own Last fine days (Salon 1851); Derniers beaux jours appeared in Les artistes anciens et modernes, vol. 3, no. 73 (Paris, BNF, Cabinet des Estampes). Ill. 1688 .
16. The lithograph La Imitación de Jesucristo (The imitation of Jesus Christ) by Eugène Louis Pirodon after a painting by Luis Ruipérez was published in L’Artiste. Beaux-Arts et Belles-lettres. NS, vol. 10, 10th instalment (15 November 1860), between p. 232 and 233. Ill. 1689 . Cf. Carlos Reyero, ‘Los orígenes del fortunysmo en París y la obra de Luis Ruipérez’, Boletin del Museo e Instituto ‘Camón Aznar’ 40 (1990), pp. 5-20, esp. pp. 12-13 and ill. 6.
17. ‘Let us sing hymns and psalms’. A reproduction after Johannes Bosboom, A young monk playing the organ, before 1850. Also known as Organ-playing Carmelite. Cantabimus et psallemus (Amsterdam, Amsterdam Museum). In Kunstkronijk 11 (1850), Bosboom’s lithograph Cantabimus et psallemus appeared after p. 66 (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. p778 M/1973). Ill. 1690 . According to Bosboom’s memoires, written in 1881, Hendrik Sluyter made an engraving of this painting. See exhib. cat. The Hague 1917, p. 13.
18. Regarding Rembrandt’s Reading the Bible , see letter 37, n. 4.
19. If Van Gogh is not referring here to the lithograph Le matin (Morning) (see letter 37, n. 12, where he says he has two of these), he could have meant a print after Troyon’s Oxen on their way to plough (Morning effect), 1855 (Paris, Musée d’Orsay). Ill. 1691 . A wood engraving made after this work by Guillaume appeared with the article Paul Mantz, ‘Artistes contemporains. Troyon’, Gazette des Beaux-Arts 7 (1865), vol. 18, p. 399.
20. For Last fine days, see n. 15.
21. A saying which means that he who acts virtuously may have a clear conscience.
22. Sophia Cornelia Elisabeth Carbentus-Van Bemmel.
23. This remark probably alludes to Anna’s new prospects, since Mr and Mrs van Gogh had decided that she should stay in England for another year, apparently after consulting the woman who employed her: ‘Anna received such a very sweet letter from Miss Applegarth, who offers very generous conditions because she values Anna’ (FR b2351, 30 July 1875).