1. In letter 664 Vincent had asked Theo for a loan of 300 francs to buy furniture for the Yellow House.
2. This must be Joseph Ginoux, from whom Van Gogh rented a room in the Café de la Gare; see letter 606.
3. Van Gogh had painted two portraits of Roulin in late July and early August: Joseph Roulin (F 432 / JH 1522 [2672]) and Joseph Roulin (F 433 / JH 1524 [2673]).
[2672] [2673]
4. The potato eaters (F 82 / JH 764 [2510]).
5. Silvestre drew a similar parallel between the use of colour and human emotions in Eugène Delacroix. Documents nouveaux, with which Van Gogh was familiar. On Delacroix’s landscapes he wrote: ‘The outside world, reflected or rather transformed by the imagination, is either bright or gloomy in these landscapes, light and colour either harmonize with or contrast with the nature of human emotions’ (La nature ectérieure, réfléchie ou plutôt transfigurée par l’imagination, rayonne ou s’assombrit dans ces paysages; la lumière et la couleur s’y associent ou s’y opposent au caractère des passions humaines) (Silvestre 1864, p. 4).
6. The reading of the words ‘et haute’ (and high) is uncertain. In Brieven 1914 and Verzamelde brieven 1952-1954 they were taken to be ‘et triste’ (and sad); Dorn suggested that they read ‘et lente’ (and slow), while in his own copy of Dorn’s book Hulsker noted that he could ‘almost certainly’ make out the words ‘et brute’ (and rough) (Dorn 1990, p. 267 (n. 180), Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum Library). However, none of the suggested solutions is really satisfactory.
7. The night café (F 463 / JH 1575 [2711]). Van Gogh was already making plans for this painting in letter 656.
8. The drawing after the above painting is The night café (F 1463 / JH 1576 [0]).
9. The former banker Lazare Lévy-Bing had killed himself. The report ‘Le suicide de M. Lévy Bing’ in L’Intransigeant of 8 September 1888 says that his body was found on the bank of the River Saint-Cucula in the district of Rueil. Cf. for Lévy, Bing’s branch manager: letter 637, n. 16.
10. Camille Pissarro had been to see Theo in the afternoon of Thursday, 6 September 1888, as we can make out from a letter he wrote to his son Lucien. See Correspondance Pissarro 1980-1991, vol. 2, pp. 250-252 (letter 505). Theo had shown Pissarro the painting Mousmé (F 431 / JH 1519 [2671]).
11. Sower with setting sun (F 422 / JH 1470 [2646]).
12. Van Gogh had painted two portraits of the peasant: Patience Escalier (‘The peasant’) (F 443 / JH 1548 [2694]) and Patience Escalier (‘The peasant’) (F 444 / JH 1563 [2705]). He would have been referring here to the latter portrait; he had a frame made for it so he must have considered it to be the more successful of the two (see letter 673).
[2694] [2705]
13. Eugène Boch (‘The poet’) (F 462 / JH 1574 [2710]).
14. Cf. Zola’s description of a good work of art: ‘A work of art is a corner of creation seen through a temperament’, see letter 361, n. 9.
15. At the beginning of June 1886 Vincent and Theo had been to see the sale exhibition of John Saulnier’s collection at the Drouot auction house; among the works on show was Delacroix’s Christ asleep during the tempest [61]. The sale was on 5 June, the viewing days were 2 and 4 June (Lugt 1938-1987, no. 48531) See auct. cat. Paris 1886, and Johnson 1981-1989, vol. 3, pp. 232-238. See also letter 632, n. 12. Paul Mantz actually wrote in his article ‘La collection John Saulnier’, printed in Le Temps of Thursday, 3 June 1886: ‘We did not know, before seeing this picture, that it was possible to achieve so terrifying an effect with blue.’ (Nous ne savions pas, avant d’avoir vu ce tableau, qu’il fût possible d’arriver à un effet aussi terrible avec du bleu.)
a. Read: ‘puisque’.
16. Theo must have written about an impression of the famous colour woodcut The great wave in the series Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji, c. 1831, which Vincent very much wanted to have (see letter 640). Hokusai made at least three versions of this composition, including The underwave off Kanagawa, c. 1831 (Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet). Ill. 2241 [2241]. See Hokusai and his school. Japanese prints c. 1800-1840. Catalogue of the collection of Japanese prints, part iii. Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet/Rijksmuseum. Charlotte van Rappard-Boon et al. Amsterdam 1982, p. 45.
17. This was the paint order enclosed with letter 668. See also letter 674, Arrangement and n. 6.