My dear Theo,
Thanks for your letter containing 100 francs. I’m very glad to have left those people’s place, and my health is much better since. It was their bad food more than anything that made it drag on, and their wine, which was real poison. I now eat very well for one franc or 1.50 francs.
Tasset’s absorbent canvas would be just the thing for me if the canvas itself was three times as coarse. If you run into that gentleman see if you can find out what he uses as primer.
It wouldn’t surprise me if his canvas is prepared with pipeclay. If I had information about it I think I’d prepare the canvas myself. It’s not urgent — but see what you can find out. I still have 4 metres of canvas 1 metre 20 wide that I bought here, but it isn’t prepared yet. As soon as there’d be another consignment of colours, he could add primer to that consignment, enough to prepare 4 metres. But anyway, it’s not urgent yet.  1v:2
On your return did those gentlemen speak again about making you travel?1
In the next few days you’ll see the Danish painter who was here arrive in Paris, I don’t know how to write his name (Moriés?).2 He’s going to see the Salon and will then go back to his country and come back to the south, in a year perhaps. His last three studies were better and more colourful than what he was doing before. I don’t know what he’ll do later. But he has a good character and I’m sorry he’s going away. I told him a Dutch painter was living with you, and if Koning would like to take him up the Butte Montmartre he’ll probably do some studies there.
I’ve talked to him a lot about the Impressionists, all of whom he knew by name or from having seen their paintings, and he’s very interested in the subject. He has a letter of introduction to Russell. He regained his health here and is now very well — he’s good for two years — but after that it would do him good to come back for this same reason of health.3
What’s this new book on Daumier, L’homme et l’oeuvre?4 Have you seen the exhibition of the caricaturists?5  1v:3
I have two new studies, a bridge and the verge of a wide road.6
Many of the subjects here are just — in character — the same as in Holland — the difference is in the colour. There’s sulphur everywhere where the sun beats down. You know that we saw a magnificent rose garden by Renoir.7 I imagined I would find similar subjects here, and that was indeed the case when the orchards were in blossom. Now the appearance of things has changed and nature has become much harsher. But what greenness and what a blue! I must say that the few landscapes by Cézanne that I know render it very, very well, and I regret not having seen more of them.8 The other day I saw a subject just like Monticelli’s beautiful landscape with the poplars that we saw at Reid’s.9 To find more of Renoir’s gardens you’d probably have to go towards Nice. I’ve seen very few roses here, although there are some, among others the big red roses they call Roses de Provence.  1r:4
To find plenty of subjects is perhaps already something in itself. Provided the paintings are worth what they cost. If the Impressionists go up in value that may become the case. And after a few years’ work we could recoup the past to some extent.
And after a year I’ll have a quiet home of my own. I’m curious about what you’ll say about my consignment, I think it takes 10 days to go from here to Paris by goods train.
If the consignment includes some that are too poor, don’t show them. The reason I sent you the whole lot is that it will give you an idea of the things I’ve seen.
I need to go and look for a new subject, so thanking you very warmly for writing to me so soon, handshake to you and to Koning.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 612 | CL: 488
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, on or about Monday, 14 May 1888

1. We learn from letter 615 that Theo’s employers were thinking of sending him to America, where the firm had been doing a great deal of business in both art and reproductions since 1848. We do not know exactly what Theo’s assignment would have been. In the end the trip did not go ahead. For the American operations of Goupil and Boussod, Valadon & Cie, see Hélène Lafont-Couturier, ‘“Le bon livre” ou la portée éducative des images publiées et diffusées par la maison Goupil’, Etat des lieux 1994, pp. 9-36, esp. pp. 30-34. See also Fidell-Beaufort 2000, p. 101.
a. Read: ‘vivait’.
3. Mourier-Petersen was said to have gone to the south of France in part for his health, having spent the winter of 1886 in Paris. We do not know what his health problems were. Van Gogh surmised in letter 613 that Mourier was suffering from a nervous condition brought on by the examinations he had to take in his study of medicine. However, he had abandoned his medical studies as early as 1880 to become an artist; see letter 611, n. 8.
4. Arsène Alexandre, Honoré Daumier. L’homme et l’oeuvre. Paris 1888. The book gives a chronological summary of Daumier’s life and work, and contains a catalogue of his lithographs.
5. See for this exhibition letter 600, n. 10.
6. The Langlois bridge with a lady with a parasol (F 570 / JH 1421 [2605]) and Landscape with the edge of a road (F 567 / JH 1419 [2604]).
[2605] [2604]
7. The brothers must have seen this painting by Renoir in Paris; we do not know which work it was.
8. Van Gogh had seen landscapes by Cézanne at Portier’s (see letter 624) and no doubt also at Tanguy’s, where Cézanne stored paintings – as he did himself.
9. We do not know which landscape with poplars by Monticelli Reid had.