My dear Theo,
I received your last letter with the 100 francs enclosed in good order, and I sincerely thank you for sending it.1
I’d have sent you news of its safe receipt immediately, but I’ve been very busy with a couple of drawings for which I had a model.
For I’ll have you know that if you’re busy, so am I, and will be so more and more, because I’m getting more of an eye for my work, and so can tear myself away from it only with a great effort in order to write or to go and visit someone if necessary.
What made me happy was that you write that you may be coming to Holland soon.2 When you’ve seen what I’ve been doing recently, perhaps we’ll have a better idea of the future. When you come, I hope we’ll have some quiet time together in the studio, and I also hope that you’ll write to me in advance, so that I can arrange with the model not to come during the days of your visit.  1v:2
You write about Pa’s birthday, I must say that I feel so good to have done with everything, it’s such a tranquillity, which I need so much in my work, my head can’t hold more than it does. And now I dread starting up a new correspondence, so much so that I’m quietly leaving things as they are for the present. When I was still at home I worried about it, but now that things have come to this, what can one do? Ignore everything and pretend that nothing happened – Pa and Ma might be able to do that, but I can’t – I feel that, sadly, something did in fact happen.
When I think of Etten, a kind of shiver runs down my body as though I were in a church.
In short, what can be done, and again, what can be done?
Besides, you mustn’t blame me, Theo, or think that I’m carping, but you wrote something to me which you perhaps thought would make me happy, but it didn’t make me happy.
You said that that small watercolour3 is the best thing of mine you’ve seen – well, that isn’t true, because those studies of mine you have are much better, and the pen drawings of last summer are also better, because that little drawing means nothing; anyhow, I only sent it to you to show that my working with watercolour at some point wasn’t an impossibility.  1v:3 But there’s much more serious study and more substance in those other things, despite the fact that they still look yellow-soap-like. And if I had something against Mr Tersteeg (but I don’t have anything against him), then it would be the same thing. Namely that he encourages me not to undertake difficult study from a model but rather to adopt a procedure that’s actually only half suited to the rendering of what I want to express, according to my own character and according to my own temperament.
It goes without saying that I’d be very happy to sell a drawing, but it makes me much happier if a true artist like Weissenbruch says of an unsaleable (???) study or drawing, that’s faithful and I’d be able to work from that. You see, although I place great value on money, especially now, still, for me the No. 1 thing is to make something that’s reasonable. Well, something like what Weissenbruch said of a landscape, a peat moor,4 Mauve said it of a figure, namely an old peasant sitting by the fireplace, thinking or daydreaming, as though seeing things from the distant past taking shape in the glow of the fire or the smoke.5
It may take a longer or shorter time, but the way is really to penetrate deeply into nature.
To be true is what remains, says Gavarni.6 One may be caught up for a time in petty pecuniary vexations, but one will surmount them, and the drawings that were rejected earlier will then be sold.  1r:4
I’ve written to C.M. to tell him that I’d taken a studio here, and he wrote back saying that he expected to be coming to The Hague soon and would come and visit me.
Recently I was also given regards from my old friend Wisselingh from London, who’s also supposed to come, and he was glad that I was working. Well, I hope you’ll succeed in escaping, because I’m longing to see you. I think that when you’ve seen my recent studies you’ll agree completely with my taking a model regularly. The better I get to know the models, the better I can draw them, of course. And I’ve been rather lucky in finding models.
Today, now as I’m writing to you, I have a child that has to rest once in a while for half an hour, and I’m using that half-hour for this letter.
Thanks again for what you sent, and a handshake in thought, adieu,

Ever yours,

P.S. I’ve made two studies of the child today.7 It’s getting dark now. Good-night.


Br. 1990: 206 | CL: 177
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: The Hague, Saturday, 25 February 1882

1. Theo had last written on 18 February 1882 (see letter 208).
2. Theo did not in fact travel to the Netherlands until August (see letter 253).
3. This must be the small watercolour Vincent sent to Theo with letter 203.
4. It is not clear which drawing this refers to. Cf. in this context the watercolour Barren field (F 904 / JH 98).
5. Man sitting by the fireplace (‘Worn out’) (F 863 / JH 34 [2345]).
6. This pronouncement occurs in Edmond and Jules de Goncourt’s biography of Gavarni. See Goncourt 1873, p. 67. Gavarni’s La mascarade humaine likewise contains the words: ‘To be true is what remains. In six words, it is the fullest and widest of professions of faith. A few days later, Gavarni wrote this other sentence: It is from life that we must paint everything’ (Il reste à être vrai. C’est en cinq mots la plus complète et la plus large des professions de foi. Gavarni, quelques jours après, écrit cette autre phrase: C’est d’après la nature qui faut tout peindre’). Gavarni 1881, p. 6. In letter 302 Van Gogh says that he owns this book.
7. The only two known drawings from this period in which a child is depicted are Girl standing, knitting (F 983 / JH 107 [2356]) and Girl sitting, knitting (F 984 / JH 108 [2357]).
[2356] [2357]