My dear friend Rappard,
Just a word to tell you something about what has been preoccupying all of us here these last few days. My mother had an accident getting out of the train, and a serious one at that — since she’s broken her right thighbone.
The setting went pretty well, she’s calm and not in much pain. But I don’t have to tell you that it’s something which causes us all great concern. I’m just glad I’m here because, since my sisters are also weak, I can find plenty for me to do.
My sisters are otherwise not doing badly. The one who’s usually in Soesterberg1 is the weakest.  1v:2
I can hardly find words to describe how bravely the one who was at home when you were with us2 is bearing up these days. There’s still a lot to deal with regarding my mother — the doctor assures us that it can mend — but at best she won’t be able to walk again for six months, and even then one leg will always be shorter than the other.
Imagine that there’s no doctor in this village (at least my father won’t have him), and so one has to come from Eindhoven, in a carriage every time?3
It’s a disaster — the consequences of which I find difficult to gauge.
Anyway — we obviously have to live from one day to the next, in so far as sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.4
Fortunately she remains calm and clear-headed, and so cooperates herself in keeping things quiet.  1v:3
Write to me soon — have you started on anything new since I saw you?5
I’m still working on the weavers, but I’m afraid I’ll only be able to work half-time for a long while because of what has happened, which means that a great many other things have to be done.
As I wrote to you,6 I’ve made various studies in watercolour directly from life. I’ll make a start on some watercolours after them, because I have to stay in the house most of the time now.
My mother and my father send their regards too.
My mother had just gone from Nuenen to Helmond by train one morning to do some shopping.
She seems to have lost her footing when she got out of the train at the station in Helmond. She then had to be brought back here in a carriage. It’s fortunate that things are now not much worse than they are, given the form of transport, and that the setting went so well (although it’s bad enough in itself). But still — there’s a lot to be dealt with.
Write soon if you can.
With a handshake in thought.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 427 | CL: R39
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Anthon van Rappard
Date: Nuenen, on or about Sunday, 20 January 1884

1. From 1880 onwards Elisabeth, who was staying with her parents to regain her strength, looked after Catharina Marianne Louise du Quesne van Bruchem-Van Willis at Villa Eikenhorst in Soesterberg; she was her companion until 1885. Catharina was the first wife of Jean Philippe Theodore du Quesne van Bruchem, a lawyer and deputy district judge in Amersfoort. Catharina, bedridden with cancer, was later also cared for by Willemien (cf. letter 763). She died on 17 May 1889.
On 17 December 1891 Elisabeth married the widower in Leiden. They had five children, one of them, Hubertine Normance van Gogh, born out of wedlock on 3 August 1886 in Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte (Manche).
2. Willemien, whom Van Rappard got to know in early June 1881 when he stayed in Etten (cf. letter 168).
3. Henricus Johannes de Mol, physician, surgeon and accoucheur, who lived in the adjoining village of Lieshout, was the duty medical practitioner for Nuenen from 1876 to 1894 (Nuenen did not get its own doctor, J. Raupp, until 17 July 1897). The doctor Mr van Gogh summoned was A.L.K.H. van de Loo. It is about 7.5 km from Eindhoven to Nuenen.
5. Van Gogh had been to see Van Rappard on 20 December 1883 (see letter 416, n. 1).
6. This letter is not known.