My dear Theo,
Still very much under the impression of your visit,1 and more than a little pleased that I can go on painting with new vigour, I’m writing you a few words.
I had wanted to take you to the train the next morning — but I thought you had already given me so much time that it would have been impolite if I had asked you for the following morning as well.
I’m very grateful to you for visiting me here — it’s wonderful to have the prospect of a year of steady work without disasters, and thanks to what you gave me I now also have a new horizon in painting.2
I regard myself as privileged above a thousand others in that you remove so many barriers in my way.
It goes without saying that many often can’t carry on because of the expense; well, I can hardly put into words how thankful I am to be able to keep on working steadily.
I have to try twice as hard to make up for lost time because I began later than others, and with the best will in the world I would have to give up if I didn’t have you.
Let me tell you about everything I’ve bought.
First, a large moist colour box for 12 pieces or tubes of watercolour with a folding lid that serves as a palette when open — there’s also room for 6 brushes.3  1v:2
This is a valuable piece of equipment for working out of doors, in fact absolutely essential, but it’s expensive and in my mind I had postponed it until later, and until now worked with loose pieces on saucers, but they’re awkward to carry, especially if you have other items as well.
So it’s a fine thing to have, and once you have one it will last you for a long time.
At the same time I bought a supply of watercolour and replaced my brushes and added some new ones.
Moreover, I now have all the essentials for proper painting.4
And a supply of paint — big tubes (which work out much cheaper than small ones), but you will understand that I’ve limited myself to simple colours in both watercolour and oil: ochre (red, yellow, brown), cobalt and Prussian blue, Naples yellow, terra sienna, black and white, supplemented with some carmine, sepia, vermilion, ultramarine, gamboge in smaller tubes.
But I refrained from buying colours one ought to mix oneself.

I believe this is a practical palette, with sound colours.5 Ultramarine, carmine or something else are added if absolutely necessary.  1v:3
I’ll start with small things — but before the summer ends I hope to practise bigger sketches in charcoal with an eye to painting in a rather larger format later.
This is why I’m having a new and, I hope, better perspective frame6 made, which will stand firmly on two legs in uneven ground like the dunes.

Like this, for example.
What we saw together at Scheveningen, sand — sea — sky — is something I certainly hope to express one day.
Of course I didn’t spend everything you gave me all at once — although I must say the prices of things greatly took me aback, especially bearing in mind that more items are needed than appears at first sight.  1r:4 It would be a help if you could send the usual around the twentieth, not because everything will be gone by then, but because I think it advisable to keep a little in my pocket in case, while working, I find that I really need something or other. That will help me to work calmly and in an orderly fashion.
The moist colour box fits into the painting box — so that if need be I can carry everything required both for watercolour and for painting in one object. I place great value on having good materials, and would like my studio to look substantial — but without antiquities or tapestries and drapery7 — but through the studies on the walls and good tools. That will have to come with work and time.
On the subject of the village constable style8 — I feel less like a village constable than like a Delft bargee, for example, and I don’t at all object to my place being like a cosy tow barge.
Yesterday afternoon I was in the attic of Smulders’ paper warehouse on Laan.9 There I found — guess what — double Ingres under the name Papier Torchon: it was a type with an even coarser grain than yours. I’m sending you a sample to show you. There’s a whole batch — already old and mature, excellent. I bought only half a quire10 for now, but I can always go back later. I was there in search of something else, namely the Honig paper that I have now and then, very cheap, from an undelivered order for the land registry. That is very suitable for charcoal drawing, I believe, and comes in large sheets tinted rather like the Harding type.
As you see, this sample has a grain as coarse as a piece of sailcloth. What you brought is a nicer colour and wonderful, for example, for studies of the sides of ditches and soils. However, I’m glad to have discovered this new batch.
Well, old chap, many thanks for everything, a handshake in thought; I’m going to start work. Give Pa and Ma my warmest regards, thank them for what they gave you for me, and tell them I’ll write soon — but as agreed not about special matters.11 Adieu — enjoy yourself, and have a safe return to your ordinary work, and believe me

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 254 | CL: 222
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: The Hague, Saturday, 5 August 1882

1. Theo’s visit to Vincent must have taken place on 2, 3 or 4 August; at all events before the weekend of 5-6 August. There is no external evidence to establish the exact date.
2. In view of the substantial purchase of artists’ materials mentioned later, Theo must have given Vincent a generous amount of extra money during his visit.
3. The fact that Van Gogh uses the English words ‘moist colour box’ here, and also refers to ‘cerulean blue’ in letter 257, indicates that he had bought a watercolour box made in England. Cf. for possible models the chapter ‘Les boîtes de couleurs’ in Cassagne’s Traité d’aquarelle (Cassagne 1875, pp. 3-14).
a. Means: ‘een grote uitgave’ (expensive).
4. By ‘proper painting’ Van Gogh means ‘real’ painting, in oils.
b. Read: ‘behoort te’ (ought to).
5. Van Gogh put down the names of the colours in his sketch of the palette (see Sketches).
6. In the following letter Van Gogh wrote about the frame in more detail. For the earlier version of the perspective frame, see letter 235, n. 10. It had wires stretched horizontally and vertically; with the new version it was possible to have diagonals as well. Letter sketch B shows how Van Gogh used it.
7. For a similar gibe at academic studios, see letter 246.
8. For this expression, which was invented by Theo, see letter 196, n. 1.
9. This is the renowned firm of J. Smulders & Co., ‘Paper dealers and Lithographers, Publishers of Maps’, located at Spuistraat 55. The warehouse was at Laan 3 (both addresses are in the centre of The Hague; Laan then ran from Grote Markt to Assendelftstraat.) It is not clear whether the printing works was also at Laan 3. See S. de Vries, 125 jaar vakmanschap. The Hague 1969; Visser 1973, pp. 12-13 (ill.); and Adresboek 1882-1883.
10. A quire consists of 24 or 25 folded sheets of paper.
11. Theo, who had visited his parents before going to The Hague, went to see them again after leaving and visited their new address (cf. letter 259); they were in the middle of moving at this time. On 7 August they were officially registered as living in Nuenen. The ‘special matters’ that ‘as agreed’ Vincent would no longer discuss evidently included the fact that he was living with Sien: it was to be six months before she was mentioned again (see letter 301).