My dear friend Rappard,
I received the package of woodcuts on 30 March. Because there was no letter with them, I waited a few days to see if you would write. Now, though, I’m writing a few words to say many thanks for this consignment and to tell you that I found several sheets in it that I didn’t already have (including a Ghost story by Thomas,1 Xmas carol by Gilbert,2 the Oberländer, In the church3 &c.), and have given the rest to Van der Weele, who was very pleased with them.
I imagine you’re very busy with your painting for the exhibition.4
When everything to do with that is over and done with, I very much look forward to a vigorous resumption of our correspondence on lithography and black and white in general, and no less — if possible — to a meeting with you.
I write only briefly this time, because I understand you’re busy.  1v:2 But just this one thing. What would you think of the following method for drawings in Black and white? Make a drawing in either pencil or charcoal. Work it up — as far as possible, but without worrying about the weakness and inadequacy of the effect.
When one is ready, put a little ordinary PRINTER’S INK on a palette, a little Cassel earth, for example, and white — oil paint.
With this — mixing the colours and the printer’s ink, which is as thick as tar in its natural state, with TURPENTINE (no oil, of course) — one begins to tackle the original drawing again (with the brush, naturally).
This is something I’ve tried out lately.5  1v:3
It goes without saying that the printer’s ink — diluted with more or less turpentine (one can make it so thin that one can do highly transparent washes with it — at the same time, using it more thickly, one can make the deepest tones of black with it) is the main ingredient one uses. I believe this is a route by which one can do many things. Anyway, more about this later — I myself am exploring.
The drawing I’m working on in this way at present is an orphan man standing beside a coffin — in what they call ‘the dead house’.6
Adieu, with a handshake, and thanking you again for the package.

Ever yours,

Naturally you could do an experiment with just printer’s ink and turpentine to make it simpler.
I don’t mean autographic ink this time, but ordinary printer’s ink. You may already have it, but otherwise you can get it at any book printer’s.
In my experience this printer’s ink takes remarkably well to the rough grain of a certain paper which they call torchon here (but it’s absolutely not Whatman torchon), and which Smulders has recently had delivered in two formats. The large one at 3.75 guilders a quire.7


Br. 1990: 337 | CL: R33
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Anthon van Rappard
Date: The Hague, on or about Tuesday, 3 April 1883

1. Van Gogh may have meant one of the illustrations by George Housman Thomas for James Thomson, The seasons. London 1859, p. 206, engraved by William Luson Thomas. Ill. 1374 [1374]. The accompanying text includes the lines: ‘Heard solemn, goes the goblin-story round, / Till superstitious horror creeps o’er all’ Cf. also n. 3 below.
2. This print cannot be identified for certain. John Gilbert provided thousands of illustrations for The Illustrated London News; one was Uncle William’s Christmas presents in The Illustrated London News 29 (20 December 1856), p. 611. Ill. 874 [874].
3. It is unclear whether Van Gogh means that In der Kirche (In the church) is by Adam Oberländer: with the other two engravings the title is followed by ‘van’ (by) and the name of the artist, which is not the case here; furthermore, in the manuscript there is a large space between the name and the title. In der Kirche is in the estate, without the name of the artist, but (like those from Thomson’s book, see n. 1 above) engraved by William Luson Thomas, so it may be that Van Rappard sent this print. It comes from Allgemeine Illustrirte Zeitung. Über Land und Meer 23 (February 1870), p. 408. Ill. 1204 [1204] (t*775).
4. For the painting Tile painters [332] that Van Rappard wanted to submit for the International Exhibition in Amsterdam, see letter 331, n. 14.
5. As far as is known, none of these experiments was preserved. See cat. Amsterdam 1996, p. 194.
6. This drawing of an orphan man next to a coffin is fortunately not known.
7. A quire consists of 24 or 25 folded sheets of paper.