21 Sept.

My dear friend Rappard,
With many thanks for letting me read them, I’m today returning the book by Blanc and the one by Fromentin.1 As I said, as a consequence of reading Artistes de mon temps, I sent for the Grammaire des arts du dessin by the same writer,2 and you can read it if you want to.
Last week I happened to go to Utrecht for the day with some other people from the village.3 I did call on you, but I couldn’t go back because I had to leave again the same day. I found no one home, and I was sorry because it meant that I couldn’t see any of your work at all — I really would have liked to see your large painting of the fish market.4 And they couldn’t even tell me where you were, which is why I assume you’re still in Drenthe.5
And at the same time I wanted to talk about your visit to us, whether or not you feel like it.6 I already wrote to you, but no reply to two letters.7

Yours truly,

I’ve worked with great pleasure on the 6 canvases I wrote to you about, and all 6 of them are now done as painted sketches and are already with my art lover, after which, once he’s copied them, they remain my property and I’ll finish them off. The subjects are:

Planting potatoes8
Wheat harvest10
Shepherd, storm effect12
Wood gatherers, snow effect13

I was somewhat constrained because I had to keep to specific dimensions, and also because my art lover preferred compositions with 5 or 6 figures, say, whereas I would rather have had 2 or 3. But anyway, I still worked on them with a great deal of pleasure, and will take them even further.14


Br. 1990: 460 | CL: R48
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Anthon van Rappard
Date: Nuenen, Sunday, 21 September 1884

1. These books were Charles Blanc, Les artistes de mon temps and Eugène Fromentin, Les maîtres d’autrefois. Van Rappard had sent them after his visit to Nuenen; see letter 448.
3. The visit was to Margot Begemann and the doctor who was treating her, so there was not much ‘happening to go’ about the trip to Utrecht. Margot’s brother Louis was probably one of the party, since he was aware of the facts.
4. This painting of a fish market by Van Rappard is not known.
5. Van Rappard stayed on Terschelling until the end of September. See letter 460.
6. In letter 441 Van Gogh, on behalf of his parents, had invited Van Rappard to visit Nuenen; this visit took place at the end of October.
7. These were letters 448 and 454.
8. Planting potatoes (F 41 / JH 513 [2482]).
9. Van Gogh painted over the picture of the ploughman – it is under Cottage with tumbledown barn and a stooping woman (F 1669 / JH 825 [3024]). See letter 453, n. 10. He made a new version, with a woman picking up the potatoes behind the ploughman: Ploughman and a woman planting potatoes (F 172 / JH 514 [2483]), see letter 466, n. 1.
[3024] [2483]
10. This painted sketch of a wheat harvest is not known.
11. This painted sketch of a sower is not known.
12. Shepherd with flock of sheep (F 42 / JH 517 [2485]).
13. Wood gatherers in the snow (F 43 / JH 516 [2484]). It appears here that the original motif of an ox-cart in the snow (cf. F 1144 / JH 511 [2480]) was altered.
[2484] [2480]
14. This increase in the number of figures is evident from Van Gogh’s original design for Planting potatoes (F 1141 / JH 510 [2479]) compared with the final work Planting potatoes (F 41 / JH 513 [2482]). See also letter 453, n. 13.
[2479] [2482]