My dear Theo,
Thanks for your letter and for the 50-franc note enclosed in it. I would have things to write to you at leisure but have to do so in great haste. First of all, Tersteeg once again. Am very pleased that your consignment goes off on Monday and after all, perhaps also because there’s a canvas of mine in it.1
However, that one doesn’t count, because I hope you’ll think what I’ve just done is good and that it will mean a new canvas of mine goes off to Holland.
I’d worked on a no. 20 canvas in the open air in an orchard — ploughed lilac field, a reed fence — two pink peach trees against a glorious blue and white sky.2 Probably the best landscape I’ve done. Just as I brought it home I received from our sister a piece in Dutch dedicated to Mauve’s memory, with his portrait (really good, the portrait), the text poor and saying nothing — pretty etching.3 But something or other grabbed hold of me and made my throat tight
1v:2 with emotion, and I wrote on my painting
Souvenir de Mauve
Vincent & Theo4
and if you think it’s good as it stands we’ll send it to Mrs Mauve in both our names.
I deliberately took the best study I’ve made here, I don’t know what they’ll say about it back home, but that’s neither here nor there to us. It seemed to me that in memory of Mauve we needed something that was both tender and very cheerful and not a study in a more serious key than that.
‘Don’t believe that the dead are dead.
While there are people still alive
The dead will live, the dead will live’.5
That’s how I feel the thing, no sadder than that.
In addition to that I now have another 4 or 5 studies of orchards6 and I’m going to start a no. 30 canvas of the same subject.7
This zinc white that I’m using now doesn’t dry. If everything was dry I’d send a consignment at once. Only the days are all good now, not in terms of the weather, on the contrary, there are 3 windy days for one still one, but as for the subjects of orchards in blossom. I have a lot of trouble painting because of the wind, but I fix my easel to pegs stuck in the ground8 and work anyway, it’s too beautiful.
Now be steadfast in keeping up relations with Tersteeg. Success or not, in a year I’m inclined to believe it will be there.
It seems to me that Tersteeg and not Reid should now set up the Impressionist exhibition in England.
I don’t at all like Reid’s way of behaving towards us, it seems funny to me that you and Guillaumin haven’t already arranged to cancel the sale of the painting
1r:4 in question.9 You can tell Guillaumin boldly from me that that’s my firm opinion, and as much in the interests of G. himself as in the interests of business in general. The price was already derisory.
Either Reid, after what has happened, should buy outright, or the artists should shut the door in his face. That’s how I’ve seen it in the past, and on further reflection I still see it like that. For 300 francs we’re compromising further sales, but it’s very sad.
Is there any way for you to buy it for us, the painting in question?10 Tersteeg should know all about the Reid business, and know he has a competitor in the England business and that we’d prefer him to be the one who does it. Anyway, that’s not my affair, it’s that of the firm of Boussod Valadon, to which you belong, you and Tersteeg. In great haste.
Warm regards to Koning, and till tomorrow I hope, if I have time to write.