My dear Theo,
I was in such a hurry the last time I wrote. I really need the whole day at the moment, since I’m working a good 2 hours from here. I want to get a few more fine cottages in the middle of the heath. I now have four as big as the last two I sent, and a few small ones.1 They aren’t dry yet — and I’ll do a bit more to them at home, too. But then I wanted to send them to you at the same time as some figure studies,2 so you can show the latter to Serret.
I wanted to tell you now, though, that for the time being, because there are now 6 or so large canvases, I plan to make only small ones.3 And that’s quite deliberate because — when I look back at what Raffaëlli and Mantz and other articles say — at the last Salon and in general, people are making a great many enormous canvases.4 One could perhaps — although I didn’t read this in any of the articles — call this Salon the Salon of the colour merchants.
I wanted to send these off before you come here, because otherwise it’ll be rather a long time. And after that I’ll start working again on very different things.
I think you’ll see in the ones that I’m bringing back from the heath that it’s pretty real there. The interiors are deuced fine, and I’ve now made some acquaintances among the people, where I can go.
How did you get on this month as far as the money’s concerned? I hope it was better than you expected, for I was quite worried when you wrote that you would be short yourself.
I had to pay a lot at the beginning of this month, and I’m left with precisely 5 guilders. And it’s a long time till the end of the month.
While I’ll also have to pay out again next month. I can or may not do anything other than spend a relatively large sum on models. It’s the same here as everywhere else; people are far from happy to pose and, if it weren’t for the money, no one would. However, as the people are mostly very poor, and many weavers, in particular, have no work, I can still get it done. But to make what I want and, above all, get the figures better, is really a question of money.
Did you read in Sensier’s book that when Millet had the good fortune to inherit several thousand francs, instead of using this — he was poor enough in all conscience — to make things a bit easier for himself — on the contrary he immediately went on a trip to his birthplace to paint the peasants all over again, and went through his whole inheritance like that — and — Millet was right.5
Others did the same thing — Paul Dubois, for instance, spent what he inherited from his parents on models. And was very wretched for a while because of money worries.6
I have nothing to inherit now — and I can’t suddenly do as I like.7 But don’t take it amiss of me when I say that if Serret and you — and in my view very rightly want to see other things in my figures — I’ll have to spend rather more on my models.
I don’t know how people manage to fill the Salon with canvases metres high by metres wide. Anyway.
Among these cottages there are a few that I’ve painted much brighter, but I say again that, much as I like grey paintings, I appreciate more and more the people who are able to create the more sombre effects as well as the silver-grey spectrum.
What I’ll do now is — if the month may perhaps have turned out rather better for you than expected, if you could send something more — even if it isn’t much — then I’ll send the 4 canvases. Otherwise — see above — I can’t really get them off.
But in that case I’ll send them as soon as I have the money for the next month, and then in all events the figure studies before that — to show to Serret.
These figure studies — I’d like you to bring them back with you when you come, though.
For there are going to be many more that I need for painting.
They’re to serve for figures that are definitely not larger than a span, say, or even less — so that what’s in them becomes even more concentrated.8
Regards, with a handshake.