Etten, 4 April 1876.

Dear Theo!
We’re happy that things are going well for you, and hope that the fine weather and new greenery are making your trip pleasant, but more than anything we wish you much success and are curious to hear about it. Vincent arrived home safe and sound on Saturday, we were glad he was here, and you can imagine how delighted we were to hear that on his last morning in Paris he was given the prospect of something. He’ll probably tell you about it; it’s the confirmation of the text for the day for his birthday.1 We can but hope, it’s certainly a long way off – but surely it’s pleasant to be by the sea, may he fare well, it should be possible. It’s wonderful that you’ll be seeing each other, and also Lies, who’s coming on Thursday. We’re awfully sorry that you didn’t see Aunt Mina, and we didn’t even hear how Vos is. Don’t you think it very sad, poor Kee and Uncle and Aunt, maybe the good weather will do some good.2 Vincent brought along  1v:2 a lot of beautiful things to show us. Yesterday he and Pa went to Brussels. Pa is in the garden house even before the confirmation class, it’s going to be very charming in the garden. And now I’ll say goodbye and hope that you’ll still be coming on Saturday evening. Cor3 is taking piano lessons. It’s quite a task in the beginning. Goodbye, dearest Theo! Have a good trip – until Saturday. Ever:

Yours, your loving

[Continued by Vincent van Gogh]

My dear Theo,
On the morning before my departure from Paris4 I received a letter from a teacher in Ramsgate5 who suggested that I come there for a month (without pay) in order to see whether he can use me at the end of that time.
You can imagine that I’m glad to have found something. I’ll receive free board and lodging in any case.
Yesterday I went with Pa to Brussels, Uncle Hein was really in a very sad state.6
In the train Pa and I talked a lot about paintings, including the paintings by Rembrandt in the Louvre7 and the portrait of Burgomaster Six,8  1v:3 and also especially about Michel. Won’t there be a possibility for Pa to see that book about Michel?9 Think about it if the opportunity arises.
I’m so glad that I’ll see you, and Lies too, before my departure.10
Ramsgate, as you know, is a seaside resort. I saw in a book that it has 12,000 inhabitants, but don’t know any more about it than that.
And now, until Saturday. Have a safe trip, ever

Your loving brother

Gladwell brought me to the train last Friday evening. On my birthday11 he came in the morning at half past six already, and brought a very beautiful etching after Chauvel for me, an autumn landscape with a flock of sheep on a sandy road.12

[Continued by Theodorus van Gogh]

Dear Theo!
It was a pleasure for us to receive your letter. Have an enjoyable trip. You’re lucky to have fairly good weather. We’re curious to hear what has happened in the meantime, and will be delighted to see you if you come this way.
Yesterday I went with Vincent to Brussels and back in one day. We also went to the cemetery in Laken,13 where I also went with you!  1r:4 I thought of you so much. We’re glad that Vincent got something, and must wait and see what comes of it. May God guide him and you and all of us.14 Pain and disappointment also bring much that is good and comforting. The text for his birthday was, ‘The Lord will provide’.15
Good letters from the girls16 as well – Lies also speaks of you with so much warmth.
I wish you well, ever

Your most loving father
T. v. G.


Br. 1990: 073 | CL: 59
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Etten, Tuesday, 4 April 1876

1. A ‘daily text’ (a ‘lesson’) is an edifying text written on calenders or in booklets for the pious to reflect upon. The text for 30 March was based on Gen. 22:14, ‘The Lord will provide’, as emerges from l. 81 in the part written by Mr van Gogh.
2. Willemina Catharina Gerardina Carbentus, a sister of Mrs van Gogh, was married to Johannes Paulus Stricker. They were the parents of Cornelia Adriana Stricker, referred to as Kee Vos, who in 1872 had married Christoffel Martinus Vos. Vos had a weak constitution.
3. Cornelis (Cor) Vincent van Gogh, the youngest son in the family.
4. Van Gogh left Paris on Friday, 31 March, arriving in Etten a day later (FR b955 and b956).
5. The teacher William Port Stokes. His school was at 6 Royal Road in Ramsgate, a coastal town in the south-east of England. See exhib. cat. Nottingham 1974, p. 13 and exhib. cat. London 1992, p. 12 (with ill.).
6. Uncle Hein van Gogh had been suffering for quite some time from an unidentified wasting disease.
a. Meaning: ‘de trein’ (the train).
7. The Louvre still has many Rembrandts; see Jacques Foucart, Peintures de Rembrandt au Louvre. Paris 1982. Van Gogh previously mentioned the Louvre’s Pilgrims at Emmaus [1710], Philosopher in meditation [1711] and Philosopher with an open book [1712]; later he mentions seeing The Holy Family (The carpenter’s household) [354] and The skinned ox in the museum.
[1710] [1711] [1712] [354]
8. On Rembrandt’s Jan Six [1737], see letter 47, n. 8. Although the sitter was not yet a burgomaster of Amsterdam when his portrait was painted in 1654 (he was not appointed to the office until 1691), the painting was known as the Portrait of burgomaster Six.
10. Theo was planning to be in Etten on Saturday, 8 April (FR b956).
11. Vincent had turned 23 on 30 March.
12. Béraldi’s description of Théophile-Narcisse Chauvel’s etching Après la pluie, à Vaujours (After the rain at Vaujours) is similar to Van Gogh’s description: ‘Sheep, led by a shepherdess, come towards the foreground on a path; on the left, elm trees, overcast weather ... For L’Album Cadart. 1876. Eight states’. See Béraldi 1885-1892, vol. 4, p. 148, no. 34. The etching Le retour du troupeau (The return of the flock) corresponds closely to this description (Paris, BNF, Cabinet des Estampes). Ill. 1767 [1767].
13. The municipality of Laken near Brussels, where Uncle Hein lived.
16. Anna and Willemien, both of whom lived in Welwyn.