My dear friend Rappard,
I haven’t written to you for a long time. First I waited for your reply to my last letter, but assumed it didn’t come because you’d probably gone to Drenthe.1 Then I got very busy so that I didn’t get round to writing these last few weeks. However, do try to find a moment now to let me know a little of what you’ve been doing, and above all to tell me how it’s going with your big painting of the fish market.2
I’ll now continue about myself. This summer I saw a house in Eindhoven that belongs to a former goldsmith3 who is now rich, and has already amassed and sold a collection of antiques several times. This man paints a bit himself, and has a room in his house (which is full yet again of beautiful and ugly antiques) that he wants to paint himself. He had a plan for it. When I went there, there were 6 panels, each 1 1/2 metres long by 60 cm high, which he still had to fill with something and on which he was planning to make, among other things, a Last Supper after a preliminary drawing that was in something like a modern Gothic style.  1v:2
Then I said to him that in my view — since it’s a dining room — it would do considerably more to whet the appetites of those who would have to sit at table there if scenes from the peasant life of the region were to be painted on the walls rather than mystical last suppers. The good fellow didn’t contradict me. And after a visit to the studio, I made provisional scratches for him of 6 motifs from peasant life, Sower,4 Ploughman,5 Wheat harvest,6 Planting potatoes,7 Shepherd,8 Winter with ox-cart.9 And they’re what I’m doing now. But in such a way that I’m making these 6 canvases for myself, but that I’m making them, in terms of format, for instance, with a view to his room anyway, and he’s paying me my expenses for models and paint, while the canvases remain my property, however, and I get them back when he’s copied them. This lets me make things that would be rather too expensive for me if I were faced with the whole cost. And it’s a job I’m enjoying very much and working hard on. I’ll have to go to quite a bit of trouble, though, to point out things to him when he’s copying.  1v:3
I’ve already got painted sketches in the finished size of something like 1 1/2 metres by 60 cm of Ploughman10 and Sower11 and Shepherd.12 Smaller ones of Wheat harvest13 and Ox-cart in winter.14 So you can imagine that I’m not exactly sitting on my hands these days.
Did I already tell you that I’ve also made a woman spinning and another weaver?15
I’ve been given a magnificent book, J.F. Millet by Sensier,16 and I myself bought a book by Blanc, Grammaire des arts du dessin, because of a passage from it quoted in Artistes de mon temps.17 This book deals with something like the same questions as the little book by Vosmaer,18 but for my part I would much rather read Blanc. You can read Blanc’s book and the Millet too, if you like.
Regards — from my parents too — and believe me

Yours truly,


Br. 1990: 457 | CL: R47
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Anthon van Rappard
Date: Nuenen, between mid August and early September 1884

1. From early July to the end of September Van Rappard and his friend L.W.R. Wenckebach went on a walking tour across the Hondsrug in Drenthe. See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1974, p. 88.
2. This painting of a fish market is not known.
4. The sketch Sower (F 1143 / JH 509 [2478]).
5. The sketch Ploughman (F 1142 / JH 512 [2481]).
6. This design is only known as letter sketch Wheat harvest (F - / JH 508).
7. The sketch Planting potatoes (F 1141 / JH 510 [2479]).
8. The sketch of this shepherd is not known.
9. The sketch Ox-cart in the snow (F 1144 / JH 511 [2480]).
10. This ploughman is under Cottage with tumbledown barn and a stooping woman (F 1669 / JH 825 [3024]), which measures 62 x 113 cm (see letter 453, n. 10). Later Van Gogh adapted the composition in the new version Ploughman and potato reaper (F 172 / JH 514 [2483]), see letter 466, n. 1.
[3024] [2483]
11. The painted study of a sower is not known.
12. Shepherd with flock of sheep (F 42 / JH 517 [2485]); this measures 67 x 126 cm.
13. This painted study of a wheat harvest is not known.
14. This painted study of an oxcart in winter is not known.
15. These two works must have been made after Van Rappard’s visit – which lasted from about 17 to about 27 May (letter 447) – and we can also infer that they must have been finished for some weeks, since Van Gogh is not sure whether or not he had already written to Van Rappard about them. The painting of a woman spinning must have been the same one he referred to in letters 449 ff.
The weaver he means was probably Weaver near an open window (F 24 / JH 500 [2472]) or Weaver, interior with three small windows (F 37 / JH 501 [2473]), which he wrote about in letters 451 and 452.
[2472] [2473]
16. Vincent got Sensier’s La vie et l’oeuvre de J.F. Millet (1881) either from Theo (during his visit to Nuenen) or from Hermans (with whom he had a great deal of contact at this time). On the book: letter 210, n. 3.
17. Charles Blanc, Grammaire des arts du dessin, architecture, sculpture, peinture. Paris 1867. We consulted the second edition (Blanc 1870). Van Gogh refers to a note in Les artistes de mon temps, where Blanc talks of the colours in Delacroix and then refers to his Grammaire (Blanc 1876, p. 65). In April 1885 Van Gogh copied out this page, including the reference, for Theo (letter 494). The Grammaire contains wide-ranging practical and theoretical information about the arts it deals with.