My dear Theo,
It’s now 18 February and I still haven’t heard anything from you this month. Because you wrote something in your last letter about not feeling well, I thought you might perhaps be ill. But Mr Tersteeg told me you’d recovered, at least he hadn’t noticed anything wrong with you.1 You understand that I’m extremely short of money. Mr Tersteeg bought a little drawing from me for 10 guilders,2 which helped me to get through the week.
But he wants them small and only in watercolour and I can’t do that yet. One milestone has been passed, however. I work as hard as I can, but don’t forget that I’ll go under if I have too much worry and strain.
So write by return of post if you can, send me something, and believe me, with a handshake,

Ever yours,

This week, in addition to the one Mr Tersteeg bought, I’ve made around 3 studies that are still not right in execution, though the drawing is better, thank goodness.
It means a great deal to me to feel that I’m beginning to draw better, and that keeps my spirits up.
Drawing is the most important thing, no matter what they say, and far and away the most difficult as well.
This is why I dare to say that I’ll make something saleable within the year. Because I don’t count the one Mr Tersteeg bought, I’ll be much better at it when I’ve improved my drawing so that it no longer causes me such trouble. Adieu, old chap, be sure to write soon!


Br. 1990: 205 | CL: 176
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: The Hague, Saturday, 18 February 1882

1. Tersteeg had visited Theo in Paris (see letter 204).
2. Van Gogh is not necessarily referring to size when he calls this a ‘little drawing’; he could be alluding to the fact that it is not very elaborate (cf. letter 237, n. 10). It is possible that he is referring to Woman at the window, knitting (F 910a / JH 90), which Tersteeg owned; it measures 33 x 26 cm. (The drawings he made for Uncle Cor, which are comparable in format, were also referred to by Van Gogh as little.)