My dear Theo,
Yesterday I sent a number of painted studies1 by post, and today, Wednesday, a crate marked V1, free domicile, containing the painting.2 Please send me word of receipt, and at the same time whether the postage was in order.
If not, I’d like to know for later consignments. If it was correct, it cost me not quite 2 guilders, which I believe works out cheaper than if one calculates the carriage in Paris, and we can try it again sometime, with fairly large dimensions too.
I don’t know what you’ll think of the painting,3 but be it for this, be it for later canvases, be particularly careful when it comes to ordering frames.
Because for the time being we can use the money better for making new ones. And only start framing them when we’ve got a few together.
At least, that would be the most agreeable to me. The expenses for the many studies that I’m making are really rather more than I can encompass in the circumstances.  1v:2 I’ve just had to pay 25 guilders rent, as well.
All the same, the painting seems to me to demand to be seen against a tone like gold or copper.4 Because then the marbling effect disappears and it appears that the lights are still deep. But one can easily achieve this effect by holding a piece of paper in, say, an ochre colour behind it.
It wasn’t completely dry when I packed it, but I thought it couldn’t really be damaged any more.
I would like to have done much more to it, though, but because of the sinking in and since it had already been lifted more than once, I could see that I had to stop. And start again on something else.
My move is now complete; at home they’re rather different from what you suppose, and they say I’ve had ‘my way’.5 Well — it’s all the same to me, and I’d rather not talk about it.
I must get to work, so adieu for today.  1v:3
I’ve had another 2 stretching frames made, the same size as this canvas. I think that once we have, say, 3 or 4 paintings of a certain size, it would then be worthwhile getting a frame made in that sort of size. But for a single one it’s too risky, and it’s better to paint a lot.
Regards, with a handshake.

Yours truly,


Br. 1990: 504 | CL: 407
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Nuenen, Wednesday, 6 May 1885

1. It is impossible to say for sure exactly which studies these are – Van Gogh originally referred to ten of them (letter 500). They would have included Study for ‘The potato eaters’ (F 77r / JH 686 [2494]), Gordina de Groot, head (F 140 / JH 745 [2508]), and Head of a woman (Gordina de Groot) (F 85 / JH 693 [2497]). Van Gogh compares the latter, as a type, with F 141 / JH 783 [2515] – the painting went, via Theo, to Aurier. See letters 502, 505 and cat. Amsterdam 1999, pp. 132, 135, 239.
[2494] [2508] [2497] [2515]
2. The code ‘V1’ stands for Vincent 1. The crate contained The potato eaters (F 82 / JH 764 [2510]).
3. Anton Kerssemakers recalled how sympathetically Theo had responded at the time: ‘Some days after he sent off that dark painting of the peasants’ supper to his brother in Paris, he comes very animated to tell me that his brother had written very favourably about it; of course he was overjoyed by this: he had written, he said, that when he looked at the painting he could hear the clatter of the sitters’ clogs; well you understand that was grist to his mill’. Letter to Albert Plasschaert. Eindhoven, 27 August 1912 (FR b3038).
4. Vincent also suggested that the frame should be this colour in letter 497.
5. Their sister Anna’s objections were the reason for Vincent’s move out of the parental home. See letter 490, n. 9.