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648 To Theo van Gogh. Arles, Tuesday, 24 or Wednesday, 25 July 1888.

No. 648 (Brieven 1990 655, Complete Letters 515)
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, Tuesday, 24 or Wednesday, 25 July 1888

Source status
Original manuscript

Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b556 V/1962

The letter in any event dates from after letter 645 of about Sunday 22 July, for here Van Gogh asks if he can have his allowance on ‘Sunday’. If this request was to have any effect, he must have written the letter no later than the middle of the week. Russell wrote to Van Gogh on 22 July, and his letter must have arrived on 24 or 25 July (647). Since Van Gogh does not mention it, he must have written the present letter before he received Russell’s; this does not, though, mean that he could not have written the present letter on the day he received Russell’s, so that Tuesday, 24 and Wednesday, 25 July 1888 are both possible.

Letter 656 from Gauguin was enclosed.

Ongoing topics
Gauguin’s illness (581)
Request to Russell to buy a painting from Gauguin (582)
Gauguin coming to Arles (602)
Mourier-Petersen’s stay with Theo (623)

original text
Mon cher Theo,
je t’envoie la lettre de Gauguin ci inclus,1 heureusement il retrouve sa santé.
Comment va la tienne.
je voudrais bien que Russell fît quelquechôse – cependant il a femme, enfants, atelier, maison en construction et je puis très bien me figurer qu’un homme même riche ne puisse pas toujours dépenser 100 francs – ne fût ce que cela – pour des tableaux.2
Je crois que cela me ferait un changement énorme si Gauguin était ici parceque les journées se passent maintenant sans dire mot à personne. Enfin. Dans tous les cas sa lettre m’a fait énormement plaisir.
Etant trop longtemps seul à la campagne on s’abrutit et pas encore maintenant – mais cet hiver je pourrais devenir stérile par là. Or ce danger n’existera plus si lui vient car les idees ne nous manqueront pas.
Si le travail marche et si le coeur ne nous manque pas, il y a de l’espoir de voir des années bien intéressantes dans l’avenir. Est ce que Mouries est encore avec toi.
Serait ce possible que j’eusse ta lettre Dimanche – je n’y compte cependant pas, sachant que c’est la fin du mois.–
C’est que j’aurai probablement un modèle cette semaine.3
J’ai bien grand besoin de quelques études de figures. Dans ce moment j’ai comme une exposition chez moi dans ce sens que j’ai detaché toutes les etudes des chassis et que je les ai cloué au mur pour achever de sécher. Tu verras que lorsqu’il y en aura un grand nombre et qu’on fasse là-dedans un choix cela reviendra au même que si je les avais étudiés davantage et travaillés plus longtemps. Car faire et refaire un sujet sur la meme toile ou sur plusieurs toiles revient en somme au même sérieux. Je suis un peu pressé, donc poignée de main et

t. à t.

My dear Theo,
I’m sending you Gauguin’s letter enclosed herewith;1 fortunately he’s regaining his health.
How is yours?
I’d very much like it if Russell were to do something — however, he has a wife, children, a studio, a house under construction, and I can very well imagine that even a rich man may not always be able to spend 100 francs — were it only that — on paintings.2
I believe that it would make an enormous difference to me if Gauguin was here, because the days pass now without saying a word to anyone. Ah, well. In any case, his letter gave me tremendous pleasure.
Being too long alone in the country you become dull-witted, and not just yet — but this winter, I could become sterile from that. Now this danger will no longer exist if he comes, because we won’t be short of ideas.  1v:2
If work goes well and if we don’t lack guts, there’s the hope of seeing very interesting years in the future. Is Mourier still with you?
Would it be possible for me to have your letter on Sunday? I’m not counting on it, though, knowing that it’s the end of the month.
It’s just that I’ll probably have a model this week.3
I have a really great need for some studies of figures. At the moment I have something like an exhibition at my place, in the sense that I’ve taken all the studies off the stretching frames and have nailed them to the wall to finish drying. You’ll see that when there’s a large number of them, and we make a choice among them, it will come to the same thing as if I’d studied them more and worked on them longer. Because to do a subject over and over again on the same canvas or on several canvases comes, in short, to the same degree of seriousness. I’m somewhat rushed, so handshake and

Ever yours,
1. The enclosed letter was 646.
2. Russell and his wife Marianna had a daughter, Jeanne, in July 1888. Their first child, John-Paolo, died in the spring of 1887. For Russell’s house see letter 623, n. 16.
3. This model was the postman Joseph Roulin: see letter 652.