Sunday evening

My dear friend Rappard,
I was delighted by your letter, which I received yesterday evening. I had already been looking forward to it, but thought you were toiling away somewhere.
What you tell me about Drenthe1 is interesting — I don’t know Drenthe at all from having been there myself, only through what Mauve and Ter Meulen, for instance, have brought back.2 I imagine it as being like North Brabant when I was young, about 20 years ago. I remember as a boy seeing the heath and the small farmhouses, the looms and the spinning wheels exactly as I see them now in drawings by Mauve and Ter Meulen. The part of Brabant I know well has since changed enormously through land reclamation and industry.3 It isn’t without a certain nostalgia that I now see a new tavern with a red tiled roof at many places where I remember seeing a wattle-and-daub hut with a moss-covered, thatched roof.
Since then have come sugar-beet factories, railways, heath reclamations, &c., which are much less picturesque.4
Well, what will remain in me is something of the austere poetry of the true heathland. And it seems that the true heath still exists in Drenthe just as it used to in Brabant.
Yet there’s still a great deal of beauty left in Brabant — just think of Het Heike, where we went together.5  1v:2
I think your sketches in the letter are very good. There’s a lot of character in the churchyard in particular.
As for me, as the result of a visit by my brother, who saw my watercolours, I too am busily painting.
Actually, I don’t believe that anyone seeing my first painted studies would say that they were my first.
For I don’t find it in the least alien, and I’m very interested in it.
Yesterday evening I found an interesting effect in the Rijswijk meadows. Flat green meadows through which a black cinder road passes with a ditch beside it. The sun goes down fiery red — a peasant trudges home — far-off a peasant cottage.6
I also have a small seascape — and pieces of dune ground — a row of pollard willows, a potato field and so on.7
I find painting so appealing that I’ll have to make a great effort not to paint all the time.
It’s rather more manly than watercolour, and has more poetry to it.
You probably know that at present there’s an exhibition here by the Dutch Drawing Society.8 There are some truly beautiful things.
There’s a woman at the loom by Mauve9 that I can’t get out of my head. An old mother by Israëls10 ditto. Neuhuys,11 Maris,12 Du Chattel,13 Ter Meulen14 and a mass of others,15 not forgetting Weissenbruch.16
There’s a lovely portrait of Weissenbruch by Israëls; I can’t tell you how lifelike and quintessential it is.17  1v:3
There’s also a very beautiful large seascape by Mesdag, and two Swiss things by him that I find rather inane, though they have a certain boldness — but not pursued and not felt.18 But the large seascape is superb.
By Willem Maris a delightful sow with a host of piglets.19
And a Jaap Maris — a very big townscape20 as strong as Vermeer of Delft.
Some time ago there was also an exhibition of French art from private collections21Daubigny, Corot, Jules Dupré, Jules Breton, Courbet, Diaz, Jacque, T. Rousseau — which at once stimulated me and yet made me feel a little melancholy, when I thought of how the faithful veterans have vanished one by one. Corot is no more. T. Rousseau, Millet, Daubigny — they’re resting from their work. Jules Breton, Jules Dupré, Jacque, E. Frère, they’re still with us, but how long will they still be going around in their smocks? They’re all already old and have one foot in the grave. And their successors — are they worthy of those first modern masters?
All the more reason to get on with things vigorously and not to slacken.  1r:4
The new studio I have pleases me greatly and I find my subject matter here in the neighbourhood. I sincerely hope you’ll come here sooner or later, and I very much want to see some of your work or hear about it by letter.
My brother sends his regards. I told him you were working very busily.
I’m in the same position as you in the sense that I write few letters these days, and indeed am writing in haste now. I wish you well and good fortune in every respect, and believe me, with a handshake in thought,

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 257 | CL: R11
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Anthon van Rappard
Date: The Hague, Sunday, 13 August 1882

1. Van Rappard was in Drenthe with the painter L.W.R. Wenckebach. See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1974, p. 12.
2. For Mauve’s last visit to Drenthe, see letter 175. It is not known where and when François Pieter ter Meulen spent time in Drenthe, only that he must have been there very regularly. See Van der Lubbe 1999, p. 75; exhib. cat. Assen 1997, p. 74.
3. Brabant became highly industrialized in the second half of the nineteenth century; see Van den Eerenbeemt 1977, pp. 60-124.
4. The promotion of heath reclamation, the rise of new branches of industry, and the accompanying extension of the infrastructure had far-reaching effects on the appearance of the landscape of Brabant. The railway network grew substantially from 1862, and sugar-beet factories were built in Princenhage and Zevenbergen and elsewehere. See Van den Eerenbeemt 1977, especially pp. 15-17, 69, 110-111.
5. Van Rappard had stayed with the Van Gogh family in Etten in the summer of 1881: see letter 168.
6. This painting of a cinder road is unknown; Van Gogh sketched it in letter 257.
7. The paintings ‘small seascape’ and ‘pieces of dune ground’ are Beach with fishing boats (F 2 / JH 173 [2383]) and Dunes (F 2a / JH 176 [2385]) respectively. The ‘row of pollard willows’ and ‘potato field’, both mentioned before in letter 255, are unknown (the sketch enclosed with letter 255 gives an impression of the potato field). The ‘and so on’ must refer in any case to the ‘cinder road’ mentioned in letter 255, which must be a different work from the cinder road by evening referred to in the present letter (ll. 44-49 and n. 6).
[2383] [2385]
8. The ‘Zevende tentoonstelling van teekeningen door de gewone- en eereleden van de Hollandsche Teeken-Maatschappij’ (Seventh exhibition of drawings by the ordinary and honorary members of the Dutch Drawing Society) took place from 11 August to 12 September 1882 at the Academy of Fine Arts building on Prinsessegracht. A total of 136 works were on show. See exhib. cat. The Hague 1882-1. The whereabouts of practically all the drawings discussed is unknown.
The Hollandsche Teeken-Maatschappij was founded in 1876 by several members of Pulchri Studio, among them B.J. Blommers, J. Israëls, J.H. Maris and A. Mauve. The aim was to obtain greater recognition for the watercolour as an autonomous work of art, partly by organizing annual exhibitions. In this way it was hoped to promote sales. The society was associated with the dealers Goupil & Cie; for many years H.G. Tersteeg was its secretary and one of those responsible for choosing the works exhibited. Most of the members were established artists; the criteria for admission were stringent. See Stolwijk 1998, pp. 107-111.
9. Anton Mauve, Spinster (Spinner), p. 11, cat. no. 70 (present whereabouts unknown). Cf. in this connection the sketch Spinner (Toledo, Toledo Museum of Art).
10. Jozef Israëls, Moeder Jopje in hare woning (Mother Jopje in her dwelling), p. 10, cat. no. 49 (present whereabouts unknown). The work is known through Binnenhuis (Interior) engraved by Leopold Löwenstam, in Kunstkronijk 13 (1872), NS, between p. 2 and 3. Ill. 191 [191]. See Dekkers 1994, C292 (n. 3) and p. 450.
11. It is not clear which Neuhuys is being referred to here. Johannes Albert Neuhuys was represented in the exhibition by Voor den spiegel (Before the mirror), Binnenhuis te Laren (Interior at Laren) and Bij een schoenlapper (At a shoe repairer’s), and his brother Jozef Hendrikus Neuhuys by Avond (Evening), Molen (Mill) and Brug (Bridge), p. 12, cat. nos. 94-99.
[281] [283] [284] [285]
12. Work by both Jacob and Willem Maris was shown: by the former Een wolkeffekt (A cloud effect), Hooiladen( Hay stacking), Winter (Winter), Eene étude van Knorr (An étude by Knorr), Een duo (A duo) and Bij de duinen (In the dunes), p. 10, cat. nos. 58-63; by Willem: Opgeschrikt (Startled), Melkbocht (Milking yard), Zeug met biggen (Sow with piglets) and Weide met vee (Meadow with cattle), p. 10-11, cat. nos. 64-67.
13. The works exhibited by F.J. van Rossum du Chattel were: Nigtevecht (Nigtevecht), Zomer (Summer) and Tegen den avond (Towards evening), p. 9, cat. nos. 30-32.
14. Three works by F.P. ter Meulen were exhibited, all with the title In het bosch van Saint Germain (In the wood of St Germain), p. 12, cat. nos. 85-87.
15. Besides several other Dutch artists, the 49 exhibitors included artists from Belgium, Italy, France and England.
16. J.H. Weissenbruch was represented by three landscapes and a seascape: Boomrijk landschap (Wooded landscape), Strand (Beach), Landschap in de omstreken van Loosduinen (Landscape in the surroundings of Loosduinen) and Onder de boomen (Under the trees), p. 15, cat. nos. 133-136.
17. Jozef Israëls, The painter J.H. Weissenbruch (Groningen, Groninger Museum). Ill. 202 [202]. (p. 10, cat. no. 51).
18. By the large seascape Van Gogh probably means H.W. Mesdag’s Aankomende pinken (Pinks coming in) – the second work, Avond op het Hollandsche Diep (Evening on the Hollands Diep), is a river view (present whereabouts unknown). Although he refers to two ‘Swiss things’, the two other works by Mesdag depict scenes in Norway: Waterfall at Trolhetta (Norway) (private collection) (Ill. 1939 [1939]) and Eenzaamheid (Noorwegen) (Solitariness (Norway)), p. 11, cat. nos. 81-84. Cf. Poort 1989, pp. 217, 527.
[305] [306] [1939] [307]
20. Of the titles by Jacob Maris (cf. n. 12) in the catalogue, Een wolkeffect (A cloud effect) (cat. no. 58) and Winter (Winter) (cat. no. 60) are the likeliest candidates. The former may have been the watercolour Townscape (Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet). See exhib. cat. Haarlem 2003, p. 140, cat. no. 45.
21. For this exhibition of French art, see letter 246, n. 12.