My dear Theo,
It’s probable that I’ll have news from you tomorrow morning, but this evening I have time to write to you, and the week has been rather eventful.
I plan to go to live in the house tomorrow, but having already bought things, and having more to add — and I’m talking only of what’s strictly necessary — you’ll have to send me 100 francs again, instead of 50.
If I count 50 francs for myself for last week, and if I therefore deduct them from the 300 francs sent, I only have left, even with another 50 francs extra, the bare price of the two beds. And so you see that, even if I’ve already bought many other things in addition to the beds themselves, with bed linen, that I’ve spent most of the 50 francs for the week on it, and in part I’ve saved on one bed or the other by making one of them a little plainer. I’m convinced that in the end we’re doing well by furnishing the studio.
And as for work, I already feel freer and less harrowed by unnecessary worries than before.  1v:2
Only if I take greater care, I hope, over the style and quality of my work, it will go a little more slowly, or rather, I’ll be obliged to keep the paintings with me longer. So that there’ll be things that hold together and complement each other. And also because there’ll be paintings that I really don’t want to send you before they’re as dry as a bone.
In this last category is a no. 30 square canvas of a corner of a garden with a weeping tree, grass, round-trimmed cedar bushes, an oleander bush.1 Therefore the same corner of a garden of which you already have a study in the last consignment.2
But as it’s larger, there’s a lemon-coloured sky above it all, and then the colours have the richness and intensities of autumn. Then it’s done in much heavier impasto, plain and thick.
That’s the first painting this week. The second shows the outside of a  1v:3 café, lit on the terrace outside by a large gas-lamp in the blue night, with a patch of starry blue sky.3
The third painting this week is a portrait of myself, almost colourless, in ashy tones against a pale Veronese background.4
I purposely bought a good enough mirror to work from myself, for want of a model, because if I can manage to paint the coloration of my own head, which is not without presenting some difficulty, I’ll surely be able to paint the heads of the other fellows and women as well.
The question of painting night scenes or effects, on the spot and actually at night, interests me enormously.5 This week I’ve done absolutely nothing but paint and sleep and take my meals. That means sessions of twelve hours, 6 hours, depending, and then 12-hour periods of sleep, also at a single stretch.  1r:4
I read in the literary supplement of Saturday’s Figaro (15 Sept.) the description of an Impressionist house. This house was built, as would be the bottoms of bottles, of bricks of rounded glass — purple glass. With the sun glancing off it, the yellow glints flashing from it, it produced an extraordinary effect.
To support these walls of glass bricks in the shape of purple eggs, they had devised a support in black and gilded iron, representing strange shoots of vines and other climbing plants. This purple house was right in the middle of a garden, all of whose paths were made of a very yellow sand. The beds of ornamental flowers were naturally most extraordinary in their coloration. This house, if I remember well, must be in Auteuil.6 Without changing anything at the house, either now or later, I’d nevertheless like to make it, through the decoration, an artist’s house. That will come. I shake your hand firmly. I took a magnificent walk by myself in the vineyards today.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 685 | CL: 537
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, Sunday, 16 September 1888

1. The public garden (‘The poet’s garden’) (F 468 / JH 1578 [2713]). The painting measures 73 x 91 cm.
2. Newly mown lawn with a weeping tree (F 428 / JH 1499 [0]). This smaller study (60.5 x 73.5 cm) was in the second consignment of paintings from Arles; see letter 660, n. 1.
3. Café terrace at night (F 467 / JH 1580 [2714]).
4. Self-portrait (F 476/ JH 1581 [2715]).
5. For painting at night, which Vincent had also written to Willemien about, see letter 678, n. 13.
a. This probably means something along the lines of ‘depending’.
b. Read: ‘comme seraient bombés’.
6. Van Gogh got his information from Maurice de Fleury’s article ‘La maison d’un moderniste, L’Architecture de demain’, in Le Figaro, Supplément Littéraire 14 (15 September 1888), no. 37, pp. 2-3. The term ‘Impressionist house’ does not occur in the article. Fleury wrote: ‘Just like the house of an artist (the delightful home of this prince: Edmond de Goncourt), it is in Auteuil that you could find the house of a modernist.’ (Tout comme la maison d’un artiste (le délectant logis de ce prince: Edmond de Goncourt), c’est à Auteuil que vous pourriez trouver la maison d’un moderniste.) He described the house built for ‘the Duke of X’ (le duc de X...) as a work of art because of ‘the use of materials hitherto rarely used, the colourist’s taste which dominated the overall design, certain ingenious details’ (l’emploi de matériaux jusqu’à présent peu usités, le goût de coloriste qui a présidé à la conception d’ensemble, certains détails ingénieux). Fleury referred to Edmond de Goncourt because he also lived in Auteuil and had described his own house and the works of art in it down to the smallest detail in La maison d’un artiste (1881). Van Gogh’s use of the term ‘artist’s house’ in this and subsequent letters may indicate that he was familiar with Goncourt’s book (see also letter 674, n. 7).