My dear friend Rappard,
It’s hard to call it very cordial that you haven’t even dropped me a line in all this time. Assuming that you’ll also think more or less the same yourself, however, this subject isn’t under discussion right now.
Something else is that my mother is doing much better than could have been expected at first. And the doctor now dares to give us an assurance that she’ll be better in about 3 months.
I’ve occasionally thought about what we agreed, roughly that I was to have sent you a few watercolours this winter. But because I heard nothing whatsoever from you I didn’t feel at all enthusiastic about it, to put it frankly. So nothing came of it — although I made some.
I’ve mostly been painting these last few weeks — the weavers — toiled away at it quite a bit.
And in these recent mild days painted outside in the fields, a little peasant cemetery.1
Then 5 pen drawings of weavers.2  1v:2
I haven’t got much more in the way of woodcuts this winter — even so, one very fine print by O’Kelly, Irish emigrants3 — and a cotton spinning mill by Emslie,4 and then the print from the Xmas issue of The Graphic, For those in peril upon the sea.5
Do you know the poems of Jules Breton? I re-read them recently6 at the same time as another little volume of French verse by François Coppée, Les humbles and Promenades et intérieurs.7
Coppée’s really very beautiful too. Character sketches of workers — the demi-monde, too, in which there’s a great deal of sentiment. A very great deal.
Have you been working so hard on your Dominican monk,8 or what was the reason that you haven’t written?

Ever yours,

P.S.: I’ve also got hold of a spinning wheel here.9


Br. 1990: 433 | CL: R40
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Anthon van Rappard
Date: Nuenen, Tuesday, 26 February 1884

1. This tower could be seen from the parsonage garden. Altogether fifteen works showing the tower with the churchyard around it are known; they were done between December 1883 and May 1885. See exhib. cat. ’s-Hertogenbosch 1987 and De Brouwer 2000. This is probably The old church tower at Nuenen with a ploughman (F 34 / JH 459 [2453]), cf. letter 440, n. 9.
2. We cannot say for certain exactly which pen-and-ink drawings he is referring to here; cf. letter 430, n. 1.
3. Aloysius O’Kelly, Departure of Irish emigrants at Clifden, County Galway, engraved by William James Palmer, in The Illustrated London News 83 (21 July 1883), pp. 68-69. Ill. 1208 [1208].
4. Alfred Edward Emslie, At work in a woollen factory, engraved by Eugène Froment, in The Illustrated London News 83 (25 August 1883), p. 181. Van Gogh’s copy is in the estate. Ill. 812 [812] (t*150).
5. Charles Stanley Reinhart, For those in peril upon the sea, engraved by Charles Roberts, in the Christmas issue of The Graphic 1883, p. 30. Ill. 1255 [1255].
6. Van Gogh had been familiar with Jules Breton’s poetry for some time. He had read the collection Les champs et la mer (1875), which he had sent Theo in December 1875 (see letters 34 and 61). Not long after this he copied out more poems from it for Van Rappard. See letter 435.
7. Les humbles and Promenades et intérieurs (Humble folk and Walks and interiors) are chapter headings in Poesies de François Coppée (Coppée 1880).
8. Van Rappard worked on his painting Sounding the vespers (present whereabouts unknown) in the winter of 1883-1884. Ill. 2120 [2120]. The work was exhibited at the National Exhibition (Nationale Tentoonstelling) in Utrecht (cat. no. 103) in March 1884. See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1974, p. 86, cat. no. 108.
9. Van Gogh jotted this postscript on the back of the envelope.