1. The Geestbrug was on the line dividing the villages Voorburg and Rijswijk.
2. These three paintings are not known.
3. Van Gogh thus worked in oils on prepared paper, which was cheaper than canvas. He used the stretched canvas as a support, instead of a much heavier wooden plank. Not until 1883 did he buy a portable easel (letter 369). For an overview of Van Gogh’s painting materials in this early period, see cat. Amsterdam 1999, pp. 18-27.
4. Grisailles are monochrome drawings or paintings, generally in grey or brown.
5. This ‘small scratch’ is the enclosed sketch Landscape with people digging potatoes (Laan van Meerdervoort) (F - / JH 175).
6. Emile Zola’s novel of manners La curée (1871) is set in aristocratic circles during the Second Empire. The speculator Aristide Rougon becomes rich through speculating in land, both for greed and for the pleasure of the game. His wife Renée has married him for his money and she is having an affair with her stepson, the pleasure-loving Maxime, a child of Rougon’s previous marriage. The novel ends with a rift between the lovers. Shortly afterwards Renée dies, leaving a huge debt.
7. Beach with fishing boats (F 2 / JH 173 [2383]), which measures 35.5 x 49.5 cm.
8. For this ambition to create a ‘painter’s studio’, see letter 254.