1. Van Gogh is referring to Van Rappard’s reaction to letter 514, in which he wrote that he assumed their friendship was at an end (ll. 117-118).
2. Willem Wenckebach, who in 1880 joined the Utrecht art lovers’ society, Vereniging ‘Kunstliefde’, where he became friendly with Van Rappard. They stayed together in Drenthe in July-August 1882 and July-September 1884.
3. The potato eaters (F 1661 / JH 737 [2135]).
4. Dimmen Gestel, brother of the owner of the Gestel printing works, later wrote about Van Gogh’s lithography manner: ‘It will have been in 1884 that Van Gogh first came to us. We already had a lithographic printing works in Eindhoven at that time. He dropped in occasionally to get black printing ink, which he appeared to use in his paintings. ... Later he came back again and asked us to prepare a stone for him. After the stone had been treated, he started to draw on it straightaway, right there in our office. He set to work with a lithographic crayon straightaway, without making a sketch beforehand. Nor was there an example. He worked from memory. With broad, heavy lines he produced sharp-featured, angular heads of a peasant family at a table, drinking coffee and eating by lamplight. Although this was evidently the first time he’d drawn on a stone he was not at all timid about it. He scratched with a needle and smudged with his thumb and fingers as if he were working on paper. And although my brother told him that one should avoid touching the surface of a lithographic stone with the fingers since it causes spots later, he didn’t take the least notice, much to the surprise and disgust of our lithographer, who regarded such work with contempt.
After the shapes had been thoroughly scored with the needle again by way of finishing, so much so that the person seen in profile had a prominent bump on his nose, it had been too deeply scored to cover it up at all, so it had to stay like that. Perhaps that was actually his intention, because later I saw the painting of the same subject in his studio, also with exaggerated, caricature shapes, and the colours I think were pure Prussian blue and chrome yellow. The stone was etched and then perhaps 100 impressions were made from it, which turned out better than our printers had expected. That’s what my brother remembered. When I got home from holiday later, I saw one of the impressions stuck on the office wall.’ Dimmen Gestel to Albert Plasschaert, The Hague, 13 July 1912 (FR b3040).
5. The painting The potato eaters (F 82 / JH 764 [2510]).
6. See for this expression, which originated with Meissonier, the article ‘Meissonier. A propos de l’exposition récente de ses oeuvres’ by G. Dubufe fils: letter 514, n. 2.
7. Van Rappard suffered from fevers, for which he had gone on a cure in the summer of 1883: see letter 290, n. 8.
a. Variant of ‘korte metten maken’.