Morbihan —

July 22

My dear Vincent,
Excuse not answering your letter of some week or two ago. I’ve been much worried by the changing to this island. Packing up and other things.1
It is most good of you to give Monsieur Gauguin a leg up. Not knowing the man I can’t say if he deserves it. I hope so for your sake.  1r:2 I would like to help you. But how? There is but one legitimate way. i.e. By purchasing one of his works. The very last day in Paris I tried to fetch Boussod; Valadon & Cie to see the picture you speak of, ‘niggers &c.’,2 but failed through want of time. For others I saw, that big one of yours3 unfortunately swamps them in my opinion. So I am in a fix.  1v:3
Young Bernard writes me from Saint-Briac.
Complains much of the weather interfering with his work.
Before I left Paris I lunched with Mr Rodin (who has finished a fine head of my wife)4 and Mr Claude Monet. Saw ten of Mr Monet’s pictures done at Antibes.5 Very fine in color and light and a certain richness of envelop. But like nearly all the so-called Impressionist work the form is not enough  1v:4 studied. The big mass of form I mean. The trees too much wood in Branches for the size of Trunk and so against fundamental law of nature. A lack of construction everywhere.
He is undoubtedly a remarkable colorist. and full of courage in attacking difficult problems. We should all do the same. It is the only way to get strong. Luckily here in Belle-Île I am forced to try all things — figures, landscape, sea, cattle &c. &c. otherwise would


Br. 1990: 649 | CL: 501b
From: John Peter Russell
To: Vincent van Gogh
Date: Belle-Île-en-Mer, Sunday, 22 July 1888

1. See letter 623, n. 16, for Russell’s move to Belle-Île in Brittany.
3. See for Gauguin, Among the mangoes [107]: letter 612, n. 1. Theo had bought the painting for 400 francs at the beginning of January 1888. See Gauguin lettres 1983, p. 33, and Wildenstein 2001, p. 337.
a. Read: ‘St Briac’.
4. For Rodin’s Bust of Mrs Russell [2184], see letter 623, n. 17. Russell must be referring to the preliminary study in wax (Paris, Musée Rodin). Although he writes here that Rodin has finished it, it is clear from the correspondence between the two artists that the silver bust was not completed until 1889. It was shown at the Monet and Rodin exhibition in Georges Petit’s gallery that opened in mid-June 1889. Russell did not get it until after that, as we can see from a letter he wrote to Rodin at the beginning of 1890: ‘We are delighted with the bust of Mrs R’ (Nous sommes très contents du buste de Mme R.). See Claude-Guy Onfray, Russell ou la lumière en héritage. Paris 1995, pp. 157-159.
5. See letter 625, n. 5, for these paintings by Monet.