1. Edouard Dujardin was the director of the Revue Indépendante and the Revue Wagnérienne. The ‘dark hole’ refers to the offices of the Revue Indépendante, where exhibitions were held. Theo had suggested that Vincent exhibit there, and at first Vincent agreed to do so (see letter 677, n. 16). In addition to the news that he would be required to surrender a painting, Gauguin’s negative attitude to the exhibition no doubt played a role in his refusal (see n. 2).
2. Gauguin also refused the invitation to exhibit at the Revue Indépendante. He explained his decision to Theo at the beginning of December: ‘I consider this hole of a place to exhibit could do us harm from every point of view. First: after Signac, Dubois-Pillet, it would mean arriving on the scene like a very young newcomer. What’s more, those gentlemen tend to be ill-disposed towards me, and yet their clientele is insignificant, and of a different kind from mine.’ (Je juge ce trou d’exposition comme pouvant nous nuire sous tous les points de vue. 1o Après Signac Dubois-Pillet ce serait arriver comme un nouveau venu tout jeune. En outre ces messieurs me veulent plutôt du mal, quand même leur clientèle est insignifiante et dans un sens contraire au mien.)
Moreover, Gauguin sent Theo a copy of his letter to Dujardin: ‘I am embarrassed by the honour you do me in inviting me this time to exhibit at the premises of the Revue Indépendante. I regret that I am unable to accept an invitation that my friend Schuffenecker sought in vain for himself. Having felt for 3 years that my powers as an artist were utterly inadequate for the modern forms of progress introduced among the Impressionist artists, so quickly replaced by the Neo-Impressionists, I decided to work in isolation, without being promoted by any group. My studies made in the tropics are inadequate as precise renderings of nature, and I believe that the Revue Indépendante would be powerless to give them the brightness and luminosity they lack.’ (Je suis confus de l’honneur que vous me faites en m’invitant cette fois à exposer au local de la Revue Indépendante. Je regrette de ne pouvoir accepter une invitation que mon ami Schuffeneker a sollicitée vainement pour lui. Sentant depuis 3 ans mes forces comme artiste tout à fait insuffisantes aux progrès modernes introduits chez les artistes impressionistes si vite remplacés par les néo-impressionistes, j’ai résolu de travailler à l’écart en dehors de toute publicité de groupes. Mes études de tropique sont insuffisantes comme donnée exacte de la nature et je crois que la Revue Indépendante serait impuissante à leur donner la clarté et la luminosité qui leur manquent.) See Correspondance Gauguin 1984, pp. 294-295.
He also sent a copy of the letter to Schuffenecker, adding: ‘You see that I do not beat about the bush, and that I take the opportunity to obtain revenge for you – and to say what I think about all these coteries. I should like to see the look on these gentlemen’s faces when they read my letter’. (Vous voyez que je n’y vais pas par 4 chemins et que j’en profite pour vous venger – et pour dire ce que je pense de toutes ces coteries. Je voudrais voir la tête de ces messieurs quand ils liront ma lettre). See Merlhès 1989, p. 182.
3. During his stay in Paris, canvases by Van Gogh were on display at Tanguy’s (see letter 572). In 1888 Tanguy still had paintings of his in the shop, as evidenced by a letter from Geffroy to Theo (see letter 629, n. 1). In July 1888, however, Vincent had asked Theo to remove his new paintings (from Arles) from Tanguy’s; see letter 637. Later on in this letter it appears that there were still a few of his canvases at Tanguy’s and Thomas’s; it is not known when his work was to be seen at Martin’s, but his choice of words (‘first of all ... then’) seems to indicate that it was recently too. In any case, on 1 April 1889 a ‘little bridge’ by Van Gogh was still hanging at Tanguy’s, as may be deduced from the letters written to Theo on that day by De Haan and Isaäcson. De Haan asked Theo if he might have the painting (FR b1039).
4. For Gauguin’s Human miseries [2242], see letter 717, n. 2.
5. For Gauguin’s Among the mangoes [107], which Theo had indeed purchased for 400 francs, see letter 612, n. 1.
6. Gauguin had sent Theo a number of his Pont-Aven paintings; see letter 704, n. 1.
7. Brothel scene (F 478 / JH 1599 [3006]). Hulsker took this to be the study for Bernard that is mentioned in letters 698 and 700 (see Hulsker 1993-1, p. 53), but that was already finished in letter 698, whereas the work mentioned here is new (‘I’ve done a rough sketch’), apparently done after undertaking ‘some excursions in the brothels’ with Gauguin (letter 716). See also letter 698, n. 6. Cf. also Dorn 1990, p. 249 (n. 52) and exhib. cat. Chicago 2001, pp. 195, 387 (n. 114).
8. Van Gogh is mistaken: Gauguin did say that he would come around the 20th (see letter 706), but he finally arrived on 23 October. See letter 712, n. 2.
9. The red vineyard (F 495 / JH 1626 [2745]).
10. Milliet had left for Africa on 1 November; see letter 714. It is not known which of Van Gogh’s studies he received as a token of gratitude for delivering the paintings to Theo in August (see letter 652).
11. The illustrated edition of Loti’s Madame Chrysanthème that Gauguin received from Milliet had been published in 1888 by Calmann-Lévy in Paris. Cf. letter 628, n. 20. It is not known which drawing Gauguin gave Milliet in exchange for it.
12. For Gauguin’s Night café, Arles [2240], see letter 716, n. 4.
13. To illustrate what he intended with the homemade frame, Van Gogh also made a schematic depiction of The red vineyard (F 495 / JH 1626 [2745]).
14. De Haan and Isaäcson.
15. A letter from Gauguin to Bernard reveals that this must have been an order for paints: ‘I’m going to send you on an errand. Tell Van Gogh that for the first painting of mine that he sells he is to hand over to you enough to send me the following colours that I need – I don’t like Vincent’s colours, and I want Tanguy’s’. (Je vais vous donner une commission. Dites à Van Gogh que le premier tableau qu’il me vendra, il vous remette de quoi m’envoyer les couleurs suivantes dont j’ai besoin – je n’aime pas les couleurs de Vincent et je veux celles de Tanguy). Merlhès places this letter between about 9 and about 12 November 1888; Dorn dates it to about 8 November (see Correspondance Gauguin 1984, p. 275, and Dorn 1990, p. 520).