My dear Theo,
It’s time that I wrote you a few lines again.
I must tell you that Rappard was here for 12 days or so, and has now left.1 Naturally he sends you his regards.
We went on a fair number of excursions together, several times to the heath at Seppe,2 among other places, and the so-called Passievaart, a huge marsh.3 There Rappard painted a large study (1 metre x 50 cm), much of which was good.4 Incidentally, he made around 10 small sepias, also in the Liesbos.5
While he was painting I made a pen drawing of another spot in the marsh where many water lilies grow. (Near Roosendaalseweg.)6
We also went to Princenhage together, but Uncle7 was in bed and is unwell again.
It seems to me that Rappard really is progressing in his work, from what he told me he seems to have been given a well-furnished studio at home.8 This week he’s going to Loosdrecht,9 where he intends to spend a month. He also works regularly and hard.
I’ve received Cassagne, Traité d’aquarelle,10 and am busy studying it, even if I don’t make any watercolours I’ll probably find a great deal in it anyway, as regards sepia and ink, for example.
Because up to now11 I’ve been drawing with pencil only, worked up or heightened with the pen,12 if necessary with a reed pen, which makes broader lines.
That manner of working was implicit in what I’ve been drawing lately, for they were subjects which required a lot of drawing, also drawing in perspective, namely several workshops here in the village, a smithy, a carpenter’s shop and a clog-maker.13
Willemien has left14 and I’m sorry, she poses very well, I have a drawing of her15 and one of another girl who stayed here. I put a sewing machine in that one.16 There are no spinning wheels17 nowadays, and that’s a great pity for painters and draughtsmen. However, something has taken their place that is no less picturesque, and that is the sewing machine.  1v:2
What’s the situation about your coming here next summer? Is there still a chance that it’ll happen? I hope so.
Rappard appears to keep his own boat there at Loosdrecht, that’s rather jolly.
He intends to go from Loosdrecht to Gelderland.18 He’d very much like to meet you, and I’ve promised him that if you were to come and I knew beforehand when, I’d let him know so that he could arrange to see you.
I don’t know whether he’ll go back to Paris,19 he didn’t even mention it. I don’t know whether this is a sign that he’s no longer thinking about it or whether, on the contrary, he’s hatching his plan.
When I think about the circumstance of his being only 23 years old and other such things, it wouldn’t surprise me if the latter was the case.
You will, I hope, write when you have a spare moment. If you can manage to get me a catalogue from the Salon, please do so.20 Rappard told me that he was also going to buy all of Cassagne’s books. He’s still struggling with perspective, and I know of no better remedy for that disease. If I, at any rate, am ever completely cured of it, I’ll have those books to thank for it.21 That’s to say, the putting into practice of the theory contained in them. The putting into practice can’t, however, be purchased with the books; were it so, perhaps more would be sold.
And now adieu, with a handshake.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 167 | CL: 146
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Etten, end of June 1881

1. It is not known exactly when Anthon van Rappard’s visit took place; see Date. In the introduction to her edition of the letters, Jo van Gogh-Bonger quoted Van Rappard’s recollections of the visit from a letter that is now presumably lost. See Brieven 1914, p. xxxiv; also in Pickvance 1992, pp. 102-103.
2. Near Seppe, a village approximately 5 km west of Etten, Van Rappard made the drawing Landscape near Seppe, dated ‘Seppe 14 juni’ (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum). See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1974, p. 70, cat. no. 57.
3. The Passievaart, or Pagnevaart, is between the parishes of Hoeven and Bosschenhoofd, about 5 km from Etten-Leur. The marsh in the present-day nature reserve ‘Pagnevaart’ could be the remains of an old peat canal (RAW). Here Van Rappard made the drawing The Passievaart near Seppe, dated ‘Seppe 13 Juni ’81’ (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum). See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1974, pp. 32-33, 70, cat. no. 56.
4. The painted study is not known. See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1974, p. 70.
5. The other known drawings by Van Rappard which date from this period are: The parsonage at Etten, dated ‘Etten, 14 Juni ’81’ (private collection); Country road near Princenhage, dated ‘Prinsenhage-Etten 15 Juni ’81’ (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum); and Reader [1902] (Utrecht, Centraal Museum). Two other drawings (both watercolours) were possibly made during Van Rappard’s stay in Etten: Street in a village and Farmhouse with trees (both Utrecht, Centraal Museum). See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1974, pp. 71-72, cat. nos. 58-62. The Liesbos is a wooded area east of Etten.
[200] [1902] [203]
6. Van Gogh made two drawings of this spot: Marsh with water lilies (F 845 / JH 7 [2335]) and Marsh (F 846 / JH 8 [2336]).
[2335] [2336]
8. Van Rappard’s parents lived at Heerenstraat, A 1173 (now Herenstraat 23 and 23 bis) in Utrecht.
9. A place c. 8 km north of Utrecht, located in an area with a great deal of water.
10. Armand Théophile Cassagne’s Traité d’aquarelle (1875) is a textbook treating the art of watercolour. It explains materials, the various types of paper, the use of colour, techniques, and how to approach nature subjects. The fourth part contains a discussion of sepia (Cassagne 1875, pp. 231-239).
11. Van Gogh doubtless means ‘since I’ve been in Etten’, because there is certainly watercolour in several of his previous drawings.
12. ‘Heighten’ is a technical term meaning ‘to brighten up paint that has become dull with varnish’. Van Gogh means that he worked up the drawing with pen, i.e. ink, by elaborating on it and applying accents here and there.
13. These drawings of workshops are not known.
14. On 2 July 1881 Willemien began work as a governess in the employ of the widow Adriana Maria Scheffer-Michielsen, living at Herensingel 21 in Weesp (near Amsterdam), who had five young daughters. Willemien registered as a resident of Weesp on 5 July (GAW).
15. Drawings for which Willemien posed are not known. Hulsker suspects that F 849 / JH 11 [2337] was made from a photograph (cf. Hulsker 1996, p. 14 and letter 169, n. 4). Van Gogh seems here to be speaking of a figure study rather than a portrait. Cf. cat. Amsterdam 1996, pp. 32-33. Piet Kaufmann – the family’s gardener, who also posed for Vincent – recalled later: ‘Willemien, his sister, also posed for him, beneath the walnut tree in the garden’. See ‘Tuinman van dominee Van Gogh vertelt zijn herinneringen over Vincent’, Gazet van Antwerpen, 3 December 1953.
16. We do not know who this guest was. The drawing with the sewing machine is not known.
17. In the nineteenth century many peasants in rural Brabant earned part of their living spinning yarn for textile manufacturers. However, the industrialization that took place in the second half of the century caused the gradual disappearance of this cottage industry. See Van den Eerenbeemt 1977, espec. pp. 60-70.
18. A province in the east of the Netherlands with large wooded areas, where Dutch landscape painters often worked.
19. Van Rappard had spent some time in Paris (see letter 166).
20. The catalogue of the Salon, Explication des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants exposés au Palais des Champs-Elysées le 2 mai 1881. Paris 1881.
21. Armand Cassagne treated perspective not only in the above-mentioned Traité d’aquarelle (see n. 10) but also in various other books, such as Guide de l’alphabet du dessin, Eléments de perspective, Traité pratique de perspective and La perspective du paysagiste.
a. Meaning: ‘dan zouden er meer van verkocht worden’ (then more would be sold).