1. Van Gogh was here thinking above all of the paintings by Velázquez and Goya in the Louvre, with which he and Bernard were familiar. The works by Velázquez were The Infanta Maria-Margarita [439], The Infanta Maria-Theresa, Gathering of thirteen characters, Portrait of a priest of Toledo and Philip iv of Spain. The Goya in the Louvre was the portrait Ferdinand Guillamardet. See letter 852 and Baedeker 1889, pp. 113, 129.
[439] [752] [653]
2. Adriaen van Ostade, Family portrait, formerly known as The painter’s family 1654 (Paris, Musée du Louvre). See letter 42, n. 7.
3. Gerard ter Borch, The swearing of the oath of ratification of the Treaty of Münster, 1648 (London, National Gallery). Ill. 1370 [1370].
4. See for this quotation from Silvestre, Eugène Delacroix: letter 526, n. 2. Van Gogh lent this book to Bernard, as we know from letter 735.
5. Van Gogh had got to know quite a few works by Frans Hals from reproductions when he was working at Goupil & Cie, as well as from the originals in the museum in Haarlem, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Louvre in Paris.
6. This passage was prompted by Van Gogh’s objections to Bernard’s works of these subjects.
7. Hals made at least one work that can be described as the portrait of a soldier: Portrait of a man wearing a cuirass, c. 1638-1640 (Washington, National Gallery of Art, Mellon Collection). However, it is not certain that this is the one Van Gogh meant.
8. Hals painted several group portraits of officers. Van Gogh certainly knew the large canvas painted jointly by Hals and Pieter Codde: The company of Captain Reynier Reael and Lieutenant Cornelis Michielsz Blaeuw (‘The meagre company’) [152]: see letter 534, n. 4.
9. There are two known group portraits of governors of institutions that fit this description: The regents of St Elizabeth’s Hospital, c. 1641 (Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum) and The regents of the Old Men’s Alms House, 1664 (Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum). Ill. 154 [154] and Ill. 155 [155].
[154] [155]
10. Frans Hals, The regentesses of the Old Men’s Alms House, 1664 (Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum). Ill. 2205 [2205].
11. The following are candidates for these family portraits by Hals: Family portrait in a landscape, c. 1620 (private collection); Family portrait, c. 1635 (Cincinnati Art Museum), and Family group in a landscape, c. 1648 (Madrid, Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection). See exhib. cat. Washington 1989, pp. 156-160 (cat. no. 10), 270-272 (cat. no. 49), 317-319 (cat. no. 67).
12. Frans Hals, The merry drinker [150]; see letter 534, n. 8.
13. Van Gogh was probably thinking of Malle Babbe and a smoker, which was attributed to Hals at the time. It shows the grimacing face of the old woman above a table laden with fish (Dresden, Gemäldegalerie). Ill. 2206 [2206]. Nowadays this anonymous work is regarded as a pastiche of Hals.
14. Frans Hals, Gypsy girl, 1628-1630 (Paris, Musée du Louvre). Ill. 2207 [2207].
15. We do not know which work or works Van Gogh is referring to here.
16. Frans Hals, Willem van Heythuysen, c. 1638 (Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts). Ill. 2208 [2208].
17. Van Gogh means Hals’s portrait of Isaac Massa and Beatrix van der Laen; see letter 536, n. 16.
18. Hals painted several ‘guttersnipes and laughing urchins’, but it is impossible to make out whether Van Gogh was thinking of any one in particular. Cf. exhib. cat. Washington 1989, pp. 176-177, cat. no. 16.
19. Hals made a number of paintings of musicians, so it is impossible to identify the one Van Gogh is referring to. Cf. exhib. cat. Washington 1989, pp. 168-171 (cat. no. 14), 174-175 (cat. no. 15), 202-203 (cat. no. 25-26), 205-207 (cat. no. 28).
20. It is hard to say which painting of a cook Van Gogh meant. Perhaps it was Young woman with a glass and flagon (Washington, The Corcoran Gallery of Art). Cf. Slive 1970-1974, vol. 3, p. 15, cat. no. 22.
21. ‘Paradise’ is the third and final part of Dante’s Divine comedy (1313-1321).
22. The adverb ‘même’ (even) can refer to the Greeks, but also to ‘the Michelangelos, Raphaels and the Greeks’ as a whole.
23. Today there are only twelve paintings that are attributed to Carel Fabritius, and in Van Gogh’s day, too, it was known that his oeuvre was small. E.J.T. Thoré (writing under the pseudonym of W. Bürger), who was largely responsible for the rediscovery of Fabritius, attributed nine paintings to him in the second volume of his Musées de la Hollande. According to Thoré, the brothers Bernart (Barent) and Carel Fabritius were one and the same person. See exhib. cat. The Hague 2004 and Thoré 1858-1860, vol. 2, pp. 170-176. One work that Van Gogh certainly knew was the Rotterdam self-portrait (see letter 155, n. 18). It is possible that he used the word ‘deux’ (two) in the sense of ‘only a few’.
24. Van Gogh would have been referring to the paintings by Rembrandt in the Louvre: the figure of Christ in The pilgrims at Emmaus [1710], and the nude women in Bathsheba bathing [2160] and Susannah bathing [2161] (now regarded as a copy after Rembrandt). See letters 34 and 536.
[1710] [2160] [2161]
25. In his 1911 edition, Bernard placed a note here to explain why Van Gogh was so vehement; see letter 649, n. 6.
26. See letter 649 for Bernard’ drawing Lubricity [2195]: Although the 1911 edition renders ‘l’arbre’ (the tree) as ‘l’Arbre’, giving the impression that there was a second drawing, this must simply be a reference to the tree in Lubricity. Van Gogh did not use a capital letter.