My dear friend Rappard,
I’ve just received the roll of woodcuts. Many thanks for them. They’re all beautiful.
Heilbuth1 finer than any of the sheets by him I already have. I remember your remarking to me once on the particularly fine execution of it. Why does this come to mind? — precisely because the execution struck me — as being done in exactly the way that my brother has already written to me about. If you come here sometime I’ll show you on what that’s done,2 and I think this will rather surprise you, as it does me. And don’t doubt for a moment that you’ll come to understand fully how those effects of grey, white and black are obtained.
The print I’m most pleased with at present is The light of other days by Lucas.3 Isn’t it just like one of Andersen’s fairy tales? Oh, I find it so beautiful and real. As it happens, I have New Year’s Eve4 by I don’t know whom, but a German, also a night watchman before a tower hatch in the snow, which is a pendant as it were. And how vigorously engraved it is.
There’s a lot of life in Marchetti, At the weigh-in,5 resembles Small especially.
I have two curious prints by Gussow. This one with the two old people6 is good.
That beautiful wretch7 is enticing. What a contrast in woodcut between the illustrations in that and The light of other days, for example. I already knew several of the figures, because they were adopted by Univers Illustré, I believe.8 Most were entirely new to me, though, and I find some of them splendid, such as the small figure in white against a tonal brown background of dune or heath, and the walk in the snow too, the old lady in black by the fire.9 It’s what I would call cosy to a high degree.
They may only be impressions, but they’re fresh. It’s a splendid package, again many sincere thanks.  1v:2
Do you have Snowballing, a large sheet from London News by E. Frère, a school playground with boys?10 I’ve just got it in duplicate.
At the same time I found a particularly fine large print by Vautier, An arrest.11
I long so much for you to come — not just out of selfishness because I long to see you, but also because I’m so firmly convinced that being introduced to the first years of The Graphic, above all, will make an impression on you that will give you ‘complete certainty’ as to the importance of woodcuts. Not that I still believe that you aren’t now very deeply attached to them — on the contrary, I don’t doubt it in the slightest.
But still, there are several prints which you probably don’t know yet and which will make it all even richer and more solid.
It seems to me that if one owns a print and sees it constantly, one comes to find it even more beautiful. I think you know the three Herkomers I’m sending you herewith. But I really want you to have them too.
And — my dear friend — I’ve talked to you a great deal about Pinwell and Walker. Now here for once is a real Walker, first-class quality. Did I overdo my praise of it?12  1v:3
Now, without more ado you must accept these and the others that I have in duplicate because of The Graphic. In my view prints like these together form a kind of Bible for an artist, in which he reads now and again to get into a mood. It’s good not only to know them but to have them in the studio once and for all, it seems to me.
I don’t doubt for a moment that when you receive these (unless you already have them) you’ll feel that it’s good to have them, and that one immediately decides one never wants to let go of them.
If you feel greater or lesser pangs of conscience about accepting these and other prints, just consider — do you regret having taken those first ones last year? I think not, for, whether it was because of that or something else, this year your collection has been something that you thought about more than in the past. That’s only to be expected: it’s precisely through having those prints oneself that one thinks about them more and more and the impressions become clear and strong. And so these will have a similar effect, I believe. They’ll increasingly become friends of yours.
Now, for my part I haven’t regretted giving them to you, for you appreciate them and you view them as they should be viewed. There are few who are in sympathy with them, and the fact is that I’ve come to value your friendship precisely because you have an eye and a heart for them, and would find it difficult to do without it.  1r:4
I used to think that most painters felt and thought about art in the same way as you and I, but this isn’t so in this respect.
Well, enough of this. Trust me in this and accept them without more ado. you’ll have more of them when you’ve completely recovered and you come here sometime.
I must say something else to you as regards Irish Emigrants by Holl.13 The woman I wrote to you about is, as a type, rather like the central figure in that print, namely the mother with her child on her arm. Taking a broad view, without considering details.
I can give you no better description of her.
Now, old chap, get well quickly, write soon, have no scruples about this package, thank you again for yours, a firm handshake in thought.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 313 | CL: R25
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Anthon van Rappard
Date: The Hague, on or about Saturday, 10 February 1883

1. The print after Ferdinand Heilbuth must have been Fine weather [928]; see letter 309, n. 20.
2. Theo had told Vincent about how the paper from Buhot that he had sent could be used. See letters 294 and 309.
3. It is not certain which Lucas Van Gogh means. It could be Alfred Lucas, John Seymour Lucas, John Templeton Lucas or Richard Cockle Lucas. It is possible that the print in question had once appeared in The Illustrated London News.
4. [Anonymous], Sylvesternacht (New Year’s Eve) in Illustrirte Zeitung 73 (27 December 1879), p. 543. Ill. 505 [505] In the estate there is a copy that was cut out, so the source is lost (t*780).
5. Ludovico Marchetti, Le grand prix de Paris. Au pesage (The Grand Prix de Paris. At the weigh-in) engraved by Clément Edouard Bellenger, in L’Illustration 79 (3 June 1882), Supplement, pp. 366-367. Ill. 1103 [1103].
6. Karl Gussow, Die beiden Alten (The old couple), 1880. Van Gogh may have known the wood engraving by R. Bong which was included in Ad. Rosenberg, ‘Die akademische Kunstausstellung in Berlin’; it appeared in Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst. Ed. Carl von Lützow. Band 16. Leipzig 1881, pp. 142-151 (ill. on 145). Ill. 913 [913].
8. From the 11 prints of engravings after Montbard and Overend in the estate, which were mentioned earlier (see letter 275), and from this remark, it can be concluded that Van Gogh knew volumes 24 and 25 of the French weekly L’Univers Illustré (1881-1882). This magazine – which contained domestic and foreign news, serials and rebuses as well as engravings – also printed one engraving (noticeably abbreviated) that had been in Black’s novel; here it accompanies the poem ‘Comme il s’agitait tristement’ by George Price. See L’Univers Illustré 25 (29 April 1882), p. 261 (Ill. 2061 [2061]).
Van Gogh recognizes several figures, and this may be explained by the fact that the same volume contains a number of illustrations that are stylistically closely related, for example those by Richard Caton Woodville (ii), Un coin dans la serre (A corner in the conservatory), in L’Univers Illustré 25 (21 January 1882), p. 45 (Ill. 2063 [2063]) – cf. the picture in the novel with the caption: “Nan’s companion led her to a raised bench, from which she could see very well” (between pp. 34 and 35) (Ill. 2070 [2070]), and William Overend, L´été (Summer) – the latter is of the same model, also with a poem by Price, in L’Univers Illustré 25 (22 July 1882), p. 460 (Ill. 2064 [2064]).
[2061] [2063] [2070] [2064]
9. The edition published in 1881 by Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square in New York, contains 33 illustrations by various artists. The three illustrations Van Gogh refers to are a figure of a woman (in the novel the character Nan Beresford), probably signed ‘RL’ and possibly by Richard Principal Leitch, “Took out her handkerchief and waved it twice” (Ill. 2071 [2071]), a walk in the snow by Harry Furniss, “He found that Nan was already some way ahead” (Ill. 2072 [2072]) and the unsigned engraving of the Beresford family; in the room is a ‘fireplace, where there was no fire’, with the caption: “He went and got an opera-glass, and returned to the window” (Ill. 2073 [2073]). Illustrations opposite pp. 16, 74, 22 (quotation on p. 24).
[2071] [2072] [2073]
10. Edouard Frère, Snowballing, in The Illustrated London News 68 (10 February 1876), pp. 176-177. Ill. 857 [857]. A thematically related print by Frère was also published under the title Le chemin de l’école – Going to school, engraved by Alphonse Masson, 1861. Ill. 2065 [2065].
[857] [2065]
11. Benjamin Vautier (The Elder), Eine Verhaftung. Gemälde von Benjamin Vautier (An arrest. Painting by Benjamin Vautier), in Illustrirte Zeitung 77 (2 July 1881), pp. 8-9. Ill. 1399 [1399].
12. Van Gogh must refer to Walker’s The old gate [1908] or The harbour of refuge [1414] from The Graphic: see letter 304, nn. 15 and 16.
[1908] [1414]