Etten, 12 Oct. 1881.
My dear Rappard,
I just received ‘Gavarni, l’homme et l’oeuvre’,1 accept my thanks for returning it. In my opinion, Gavarni is a very great artist, and certainly very interesting as a human being as well. Without doubt, at times he did things that weren’t good, his behaviour towards Thackeray and Dickens,2 to name but a few, but there are such things in all characters.
And he, too, seems to have regretted it, because later he sent drawings to those people whom he had once treated with insufficient cordiality.3 And Thackeray himself adopted a similar attitude towards Balzac, and went even further, I believe,4 but that doesn’t alter the fact that at bottom those men were kindred spirits, even though this wasn’t always clear to them.
When I received the book this morning, I thought ‘now he certainly won’t come himself, otherwise he’d have kept it until he came’. I don’t need to assure you once more that all of us here would very much like to see you again, and hope so much that, even if you don’t come for long, you won’t stay away entirely.5
I’m very eager to hear about your plans for the winter. Supposing you go to Antwerp, Brussels or Paris, be sure to come and visit us on your way, and if you stay in Holland then I won’t give up hope either; it’s also beautiful here in the winter, and we surely could do something, if not outdoors then working from a model in the house of some peasant or other.
I’ve been drawing a lot from the model lately, since I’ve found a couple of models who are willing enough. And I have all kinds of studies of diggers, sowers &c., men and women.6 I’m working a lot with charcoal and Conté at the moment, and have also tried sepia and watercolour. Anyway, I can’t say whether you’d see improvement in my drawings, but most certainly a change.
I hope to visit Mauve again soon to discuss the question of whether or not I should start painting. If I start, I’ll also persevere. I’ll talk it over again with various people before I begin, though. I realize more and more as time goes on that it was good that I set my mind more specifically on figure drawing. Indirectly, this really does influence landscape drawing as well, because one learns to concentrate.
I’d send you a couple of sketches if I had the time, but I’m very occupied with all kinds of things, though later you’ll receive some more.7 Should you not stay in the country, I’d be pleased to have your address. In any case, I’ll have more to write to you this winter. Do you mind if I keep Karl Robert, Le fusain,8 for a while longer? It’s because, working with charcoal now, I still need it so much, but if I go to The Hague I’ll see to it that I get one myself. It would surprise me very much if I weren’t to stay in Etten this winter — this is my plan at least, anyway not to go abroad. Because I’ve been rather fortunate since coming back here to Holland, not only in drawing but in other things as well.9 Anyway, I’ll carry on here for a while, I spent so many years abroad, in England as well as in France and Belgium, that it’s high time I stayed here for a while. You know what’s absolutely beautiful these days, the road to the station and to Leur with the old pollard willows,10 you have a sepia of it yourself.11 I can’t tell you how beautiful those trees are now. Made around 7 large studies of several of the trunks.12
I’m absolutely certain that if you were here now when the leaves are falling, even if only
1v:3 for a week, you would make something beautiful of it. If you feel like coming, it would give all of us here pleasure.
Accept my parents’ warm regards and a handshake in thought from me, and believe me