Etten, 30 December 18771

My dear Theo,
I wish you much happiness for the new year, may it be blessed for you in many ways. Those were good days, when you were here, though they didn’t last long. My holiday will be over soon, too, but I’ll stay at least a day longer because Pa’s so busy these days, and it would be good to discuss calmly how best to pursue further study.2
Pa also has to preach at Princenhage on New Year’s Eve, because the Rev. Kuylman3 fell and hurt himself, dislocating his arm, and so is unable to take his turn on New Year’s Eve, and Pa has offered to do it for him. So Pa has to preach 9 times in 10 days.
If you haven’t yet sent that map &c. to Harry Gladwell,4 wait a while, I hear he’s no longer in Paris,5 wrote to his father today. I may get a reply and will then add something to the roll.
You forgot to take the etching after Meissonier,6 I’ll send it to you one of these days with the lithograph after Jules Breton, The fields in winter,7 because I don’t want to accept it, it belongs in your collection.
It snowed last week and Cor had fun with the sledge and so did I, because I sledged on the road with him and a girl who was staying at the Hackstrohs’.8 Today Pa, Ma, Cor and I took a lovely walk, you should have been there.
Yesterday I saw the sewing school that Ma now holds in the consistory, it is indeed pleasant, one would like to have a painting of it,9 there are already quite a few children coming to it.
Another painting has occurred to me that is related to Brittany, namely Ribot, The prayer, a number of children kneeling in a corner of a church at dusk, there’s a large etching by him of the same thing,10 which you perhaps know. Jacque once made an etching of the same subject, but smaller.11
Made a list today of everything I could remember about the French Revolution,12 so as to write it on the back of the map of France, and I hope gradually to expand on that work, recording, for instance, the most important things about the Middle Ages, or the time of the 80 Years’ War,13 and so on. One must hold on to what one has seen or what one knows, for it always comes in useful.
If you should make such lists from time to time, send them to me when you have the opportunity, then we can compare them, it’s good to do so — as far as knowledge is concerned, it’s important to hold on to what one has and to absorb it internally as much as one can; especially when one is short of money, it’s good to fill the gaps with this and similar things.  1v:2
Give my regards to all your housemates and wish them all the best from me. It’s not impossible that, on my way to Amsterdam, I could spend another night in The Hague and bring you the prints that you left here myself, but don’t count on it.
Adieu, again I wish you the best, and a hearty handshake in thought from

Your most loving brother


Br. 1990: 137 | CL: 116a
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Etten, Sunday, 30 December 1877

1. Van Gogh spent the Christmas holidays with his parents.
2. From a letter written by Mr van Gogh to Theo, it emerges that Vincent’s further study was a matter of some concern: ‘How will it go? That is not yet clear, though we hope for the best’ (FR b961, 9 January 1878).
3. Johannes Kuylman was a minister at Princenhage.
4. The map of Scotland copied by Vincent from Stieler’s atlas, which Theo was supposed to send to Harry Gladwell in Paris in one of Goupil’s shipments (see letter 137); what ‘&c.’ refers to is unclear.
5. From letters 141 and 142 it appears that Gladwell had quit his job at Goupil’s and returned to his parents’ home in London (Lewisham).
6. Possibly the etching after Meissonier’s The reader [1884]; see letter 152, n. 13.
7. It is not certain which lithograph Vincent is referring to here. Cf. the possible reference to Breton’s Women hoeing [1889] in letter 156, n. 11.
8. The stationmaster Marinus Hackstroh, who was married to Elisabeth Clara Johanna de Bock. They lived at de Baai F 25 and were friends of the Van Gogh family (cf., among others, FR b995, b2474 and b2762).
9. The motif of the sewing school was depicted by a number of artists, including Jozef Israëls: Sewing school at Katwijk [200] (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum).
10. Théodule Ribot, The prayer (present whereabouts unknown; Salon 1863). Ribot’s etching La prière, which measures 18 x 24 cm, was published in the first series of Eaux-fortes modernes, publiées par la Société des Aquafortistes (September 1862), no. 5. The print, which is also known as L’école maternelle (The nursery school), bears the text ‘Regina virginum ora pro nobis’. Published by A. Cadart & F. Chevalier. Ill. 1271 [1271].
11. Charles Emile Jacque, La prière (Enfants en prière) (The prayer (Children praying)), 1843. Printed by Delâtre, Paris for L’Artiste. J.-J. Guiffrey, L’Oeuvre de Ch. Jacque. Catalogue de ses eaux-fortes et pointes sèches. Paris 1866, p. 36, no. 11 (Alliance des Arts, no. 350). Ill. 1865 [1865]. This etching measures 6.4 x 10.0 cm.
12. The French Revolution of 1789.
13. The Netherlands’ war against Spain, 1568-1648.