Nuenen, Jan. 84

My dear friend Furnée,
This morning I received your letter telling me of your rapidly approaching departure for the Indies.1
Little had I thought that this would be happening so soon. I sincerely hope that you will be able to feel at home in the Indies. Perhaps you will find this easier now than if you had stayed in Holland for a long time first, and had painted a lot in Holland. Then, once one is wholly and entirely immersed in the grey sadness here, one might perhaps find it difficult to get to grips with the nature of the East Indies.
But in the circumstances, if you now try to get to grips completely with nature over there, I think that you will succeed in doing so. And who knows what curious, picturesque things you will find there.
Many French and other painters profited by going to Algiers or Egypt, and I imagine that the Indies must produce somewhat similar effects.
In the last few years, for instance, several painters went to China and Japan, and I saw very fine things from those countries.2
It pleases me so much that you are still keen to paint, and I believe that provided you persevere you can go a very long way.  1v:2
Especially because you will always have to be outdoors a great deal in your job.3
Things are going quite well for me here in Brabant, anyway I find the countryside here very stimulating.
Now, in these last few weeks I have made 4 watercolours of Weavers.4 And a few others of a timber sale,5 an interior with a seamstress,6 and a gardener,7 all watercolours. Herewith a few scratches of them.

Herewith another order for your father.8 Be so good as to pick out the watercolour brushes for me, not too thin and not too thick either. The sort one usually uses. Something like this [Van Gogh drew an arrow pointing to the sketch]

Well, my dear friend, I will always think back with great pleasure on many a walk that we took together last summer.
And be assured that I won’t forget you, and that I would be much obliged to hear from you soon, once you’re over there. For my part I will send you some scratches of what I have in hand sometime.
And so now, wishing you a safe journey and success in your undertakings, in particular success with the painting too. With a hearty handshake in thought.

Ever yours,

Would you please tell your father that I will be able to send His Hon. money by 20 January for what is still outstanding and for this order.9


Br. 1990: 423 | CL: 351a
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Antoine Furnee
Date: Nuenen, between about Sunday, 6 and Friday, 18 January 1884

1. Antoine Philippe Furnée was due to leave for Batavia on 14 March 1884. It would seem obvious that this letter is a consequence of Van Gogh’s trip to The Hague in December, when he must have looked Furnée up.
2. Van Gogh was probably thinking here, among other things, of the prints of Félix Régamey, see letters 325 and 359.
3. Furnée was a surveyor.
4. It is not possible to say for sure which four watercolours of weavers Van Gogh is referring to here. Several have survived from this period (cf. letter 419, n. 1). The weaver in the third letter sketch most closely corresponds with the watercolour Weaver (F 1107 / JH 445); all the same some elements differ, such as the position of the front legs of the loom.
5. Van Gogh had probably finished the large, detailed and signed watercolour Timber sale (F 1113 / JH 438 [2450]) in the meantime. It is the only one of this subject that is known. See cat. Amsterdam 1997, pp. 45-48, cat. no. 77.
6. This watercolour of a seamstress is not known.
7. This watercolour of a gardener is not known.
8. The colourman Hendrik Jan Furnée. The order (probably a separate list of paints and other materials) has not survived.
9. Van Gogh did not keep his word, since the bill had evidently still not been paid at the beginning of February. See letter 428.