1. The enclosed letters from Mr and Mrs van Gogh have both survived (FR b990 and b996). Nine days later Mrs van Gogh wrote again to Theo; her letter betrays her anxiety about Vincent’s future: ‘How will things turn out for Vincent? We watch him go with trepidation. His ideas about everyday life are so unhealthy that it seems to me he won’t be able to teach people; may things turn out better than expected. He travels there on Monday’ (FR b2433, 24 August 1878).
2. Although Anna was cheered by the situation, her relations with Vincent did not improve. She wrote to thank Theo for the ‘splendid prints’ he had sent, and spoke plainly of Vincent’s stubbornness: ‘Vincent is more of a wooden lion than ever and is very annoyed at the preparations. For Pa and Ma’s sake I hope so much that this thing in Belgium will succeed, but I fear that his extreme obstinacy and lack of human understanding won’t do him much good in his new situation’ (FR b989, 13 August 1878). Her characterization of Vincent as a ‘wooden lion’ probably refers to her brother’s lofty inaccessibility.
3. Anna and Joan were married on 22 August 1878; Vincent originally planned to leave for Brussels on the 24th, according to a letter written by Mr van Gogh to Theo: ‘Vincent will leave next Saturday. May he have the good fortune to succeed there.’ Mrs van Gogh wrote the following about him in the same letter: ‘He is more withdrawn than ever, no doubt because he is concentrating hard on writing his sermons, which he is stocking up on’ (FR b991, 21 August 1878). The caves of Han, a tourist attraction, are in Han-sur-Lesse in the Ardennes. In the end he left on Monday 26 August (FR b2433).
4. This quite possibly refers to the Brussels Salon, which lasted from 5 September to 15 October. See Exposition générale des Beaux-Arts 1878. Catalogue explicatif. Brussels 1878, pp. 11, 23.