1. See letter 593 for Van Gogh’s order from Tasset & Lhote in Paris; he had left it up to Theo to place either a limited or a large order.
2. The white orchard (F 403 / JH 1378 [2576]). Van Gogh also mentioned working on this painting in letter 594.
3. Christian Mourier-Petersen.
4. The painting intended for Tersteeg was The Langlois bridge with washerwomen (F 397 / JH 1368 [2571]); the repetition of this is The Langlois bridge with washerwomen (F 571 / JH 1392 [2589]). The name Pont de l’Anglais was often used at the time, although the bridge was later usually known as Pont de Langlois. See Martin Bailey, Studio of the South. Van Gogh in Provence. London 2016, pp. 73, 202 (n. 2). Van Gogh also wrote the title ‘Pont de l’Anglais’ on the watercolour The Langlois bridge with washerwomen (F 1480 / JH 1382 [2580]). The official name was Pont de Réginelle (or Réginal).
[2571] [2589] [2580]
5. Van Gogh painted a repetition of the painting intended for Jet Mauve, Pink peach trees (‘Souvenir de Mauve’) (F 394 / JH 1379 [2577]); this was The pink peach tree (F 404 / JH 1391 [2588]). See letter 597, n. 3.
[2577] [2588]
6. At this time the paint merchant Julien Tanguy had works by Van Gogh in stock. It emerges from a letter of 29 May 1888 from Gustave Geffroy to Theo that the collector Paul Gallimard wanted to buy two works by Van Gogh from Tanguy (FR b1199).
a. Read: ‘non plus ne sont pas’.
7. It is not clear what this remark relates to. There is possibly a link with the legal proceedings that one of Jacques Louis David’s heirs had instituted against someone who had presented a copy of his famous painting of Marat as the original. See Gazette des Beaux-Arts of 10 March 1888. It is not impossible that the reference is in some way an extension of this topical issue.
8. Xantippe was the wife of the Greek philosopher Socrates; her name is synonymous with a spiteful woman or shrew.
9. The novella La Maison Tellier (1881) by Guy de Maupassant describes a day in the life of Madame Tellier, the owner of the brothel Maison Tellier, and her five girls. The ladies set off to attend the first communion of Madame’s niece, they enjoy ordinary everyday life and the festivities, and they go to Mass.
10. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, The hangover (Cambridge, Mass., Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University). Ill. 2177 [2177].
11. The paintings intended for Tersteeg and Jet Mauve, see nn. 4 and 5 above.
12. On the discolouration of red pigments in Van Gogh, see Maarten van Bommel, Muriel Geldof and Ella Hendriks, ‘Examination of the use of organic red pigments in paintings by Vincent van Gogh (November 1885 to February 1888)’, Art matters. Netherlands technical studies in art 3 (2005), pp. 111-137.
13. The phrase ‘the Dutch palette’ and the list of painters refer to the artists of the Hague School, which was well known for its muted palette with numerous grey tints. Several technical research projects have demonstrated that most of the pigments that Van Gogh mentions here were indeed used by those painters (with thanks to René Boitelle). In this connection see, among others, W.E. Roelofs Jr, De practijk van het schilderen. Wenken aan collega’s door een kunstschilder. Amsterdam 1919, who also lists the pigments mentioned by Van Gogh, giving them their Dutch names. It should be added that Van Gogh must have known through his contacts with Mauve and other artists whom he met in The Hague that they did indeed use modern, bright pigments.
14. Van Gogh had read about Delacroix’s bold use of lemon yellow and Prussian blue in his Pietà in Silvestre’s Eugène Delacroix. Documents nouveaux who had observed: ‘You had to be Delacroix to dare that, the chrome yellow changing more than gold and turning green with time’ (Il fallait être Delacroix pour oser cela, le jaune de chrôme s’altérant plus que l’or, et verdissant avec le temps). See letter 526, n. 4. His assertion that Prussian blue was ‘disapproved of’ is confirmed by the manuals by Karl Robert and others, who warn against the use of Prussian blue in large quantities or unmixed. See M. Rummens, ‘Van Goghs expressieve onhandigheid’, Jong Holland 10-4 (1994), pp. 32-33. See also cat. Amsterdam 2011.