My dear Theo,
Many thanks for your letter, the 50-franc note and the Tasset consignment, colours and canvases, that has just arrived.1 He’d enclosed his invoice, which comes to 50.85 francs, which enabled me to check his prices and compare them with Edouard’s.2 He’s considerably cheaper than Edouard, which, combined with the 20% discount, means we can have no complaints about him. Now, for his canvas at 4.50, I’ll probably be able to find out the price by the piece at first hand.
Now your letter brings me a big piece of news — that Gauguin accepts the proposal.3 Indeed, the best thing would be for him to dash straight over here instead of sorting out the mess he’s in there; perhaps he’ll get into another one if he comes to Paris first. Perhaps, too, with the paintings he’ll bring he’ll make a deal, which would be very fortunate. My reply enclosed. I really want to say just this, that I feel enthusiastic not only about painting in the south — but just the same in the north too, feeling healthier than 6 months ago. So if it’s safer to go to Brittany where one can board for so little4 — from the point of view of outgoings I’m definitely prepared to go back to the north. But it must be good for him too, to come to the south.
Especially since in 4 months it’ll already be winter in the north. And this seems so certain to me, that two people having exactly the same work must, if circumstances prevent their spending more, be able to live at home on bread, wine and, well, everything else one might wish to add to that. The difficulty is to eat at home alone. Restaurants here are expensive because everyone eats at home.  1v:2
Certainly neither Ricards nor Leonardo da Vincis are less beautiful because there are few of them — on the other hand, Monticellis, Daumiers, Corots, Daubignys and Millets aren’t ugly because in many cases they were done at great speed and there are relatively many of them. As for landscapes, I’m beginning to find that some, done more quickly than ever, are among the best things I do.
It’s like that with the one of which I sent you the drawing, the harvest and the wheat stacks too5 — it’s true I have to retouch everything to adjust the workmanship a little, to harmonize the brushstrokes, but all the essential work was done in a single long session, and I’ll spare it as much as possible when I go back to it.
But when I come back from a session like that I can assure you my brain is so tired that if that sort of work is repeated often — the way it’s been during this harvest — I become totally distracted and incapable of a whole lot of ordinary things. At these moments the prospect of not being alone isn’t unpleasant. And I think very, very often of that excellent painter Monticelli, who people said was such a drinker and insane, when I see myself coming back from the mental labour of balancing the six essential colours, red — blue — yellow — orange — lilac — green.
Work and dry calculation, in which one’s mind is extremely stretched, like an actor on the stage in a difficult role — where you have to think  1v:3 of a thousand things at the same time in a single half hour.
Afterwards — the only thing that comforts and distracts — in my case — as in others, is to stun oneself by taking a stiff drink or smoking very heavily.
Which is no doubt not very virtuous, but it’s in order to go back to Monticelli.
I’d really like to see a drinker in front of a canvas or on the boards. Of course, it’s all too crude a lie, this whole malicious, Jesuitical tale of the Roquette woman about Monticelli.6
Monticelli the logical colourist, able to carry out the most ramified and subdivided calculations on the ranges of tones that he balanced, certainly overtaxed his brain doing that work, as did Delacroix and Richard Wagner.
But if he did perhaps drink, it was only because — Jongkind too7 — being physically stronger than Delacroix and suffering more physically (Delacroix was richer), it was, then — I, for one, would be well inclined to believe — because if they hadn’t done it — their rebellious nerves would have played other tricks on them. And Jules and Edmond de Goncourt say this, word for word — ‘we took very strong tobacco to stupefy ourselves’ in the furnace of creation.8  1r:4
Don’t believe, then, that I would artificially maintain a feverish state — but you should know that I’m in the middle of a complicated calculation that results in canvases done quickly one after another but calculated long beforehand. And look, when people say they’re done too quickly you’ll be able to reply that they looked at them too quickly. And besides, I’m now going over all the canvases a little more before sending them to you.
But during the harvest my work has been no easier than that of the farmers themselves who do this harvesting. Far from my complaining about it, it’s precisely at these moments in artistic life, even if it’s not the real one, that I feel almost as happy as I could be in the ideal, the real life.
If all goes well and Gauguin thinks it’s a good idea to join us, we could make the thing more serious by suggesting to him that he puts all his paintings in common, with mine, to share profits or losses. But that won’t happen or will happen of its own accord, depending on whether he found my painting good or bad, and also on whether or not we did things in collaboration. Have to write to Russell now, and I’ll hasten my exchange with him. We’ll have to work hard to try to sell something from my side to help with the expenses, but let’s take heart, despite our difficulties in working to safeguard the artists’ life, we’ll have fire in our bones.9 Handshake, I’ll write to you again soon. I’m going to the Camargue for 2 or 3 days, to do some drawings there.10

Ever yours,

Good that you’re bringing our sisters over.

Be patient a little longer with Mourier, perhaps he’s going through a crisis.11

I’ll write to Mourier one of these days; you’ll read the letter, you’ll see the way I used to talk to him. I can see the drawing from here!!! The head in the style of Delaroche.12


Br. 1990: 638 | CL: 507
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, on or about Sunday, 1 July 1888

1. Van Gogh had asked for a new batch of paint in letter 629. Theo had apparently placed orders with both Tasset and Tanguy; in letter 634 Vincent acknowledges receipt of the paint from Tanguy.
2. Van Gogh must mean G. Edouard’s paint shop at 8 rue Pigalle in Paris, which was taken over by Victor Mulard. The shop is listed under both names in the address books (Almanach du commerce de Paris 1886-1888).
3. On 8 July 1888 Gauguin wrote to Emile Schuffenecker: ‘I told Van Gogh that I accepted his proposal and that I counted on Mrs Pouzin to get me out of here and down to the south. I have had no news from Van Gogh which surprises me and bad news from Mrs Pouzin which means it’s bad on all counts, a sign that something good will happen – as you can see I am still optimistic’ (J’ai répondu à Van Gog que j’acceptais sa proposition et que je comptais sur Made Pouzin pour me liberer d’ici et filer dans le midi. Je ne reçois aucune nouvelle de Van Gog ce qui m’étonne et de Made Pouzin j’en reçois une mauvaise ce qui fait que de tous côtés c’est mauvais, signe que le bon va venir – vous voyez que je suis toujours optimiste) (FR b812).
4. The cost of board and lodging at the Gloanec inn was apparently less than 150 francs a year for two people – half what Van Gogh was paying in Provence. See Correspondance Gauguin 1984, p. 488 (n. 7).
5. These landscapes are The harvest (F 412 / JH 1440 [2621]) and Wheat stacks (F 425 / JH 1442 [2623]); the drawings that were sent were The harvest (F 1483 / JH 1439 [2620]) and Wheat stacks (F 1425 / JH 1441 [2622]). Vincent had sent them to Theo in mid-June (see letter 625).
[2621] [2623] [2620] [2622]
a. Read: ‘distrait’.
6. This is a reference to the art dealer Evelina Delarebeyrette. See letter 600, n. 14, on the nickname ‘La Roquette’ and Monticelli’s drinking.
7. In the 1850s Jongkind suffered a period of setbacks during which he drank to excess, got into debt and was depressed. See exhib. cat. The Hague 2003, pp. 28-31.
8. Van Gogh may be referring to the following words of Jules and Edmond de Goncourt: ‘Tobacco, salvation in times of activity, feverishness and prodigious output; is the laudanum of the nervous system’ (Le tabac, une providence dans un siècle d’activité, de fébrilité, de prodigieuse production; c’est le laudanum du système nerveux), included in the collection Idées et sensations. Paris 1866, p. 213.
10. See letter 629 for this planned expedition to the Camargue.
11. See letter 610, n. 3, for Mourier-Petersen’s ‘nervous condition’.
12. This must be a response to something Theo had written.