My dear Theo,
Thanks very much for sending me 100 francs and for your letter.
You’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve had a letter from Jet Mauve thanking us for the painting.1
A very nice letter, in which she talks of times gone by. I’ll reply to it and will send another few croquis in the letter.
You’ll also be pleased to know that we have an addition to the collection of artists’ portraits. Laval’s self-portrait, extremely good.2

Also a seascape by Bernard in exchange for canvases of mine.3
The portrait of Laval is very self-assured, very distinguished, and will be precisely one of the paintings you speak of, which one takes before the others have recognized the talent.
I think it excellent that you’re taking a Luce.4 Does he by any chance have his portrait? That’s in case there’s nothing extraordinarily interesting — portraits are always good.
Gauguin’s working on a very original nude woman in some hay with some pigs.5 It promises to be very beautiful, with great style. He’s had a magnificent pot with 2 rats’ heads sent back from Paris.6
He’s a really great artist and a really excellent friend.
If you could ever get a fine Bernard I strongly urge you to do so. Gauguin has a superb one.7  1v:3
I’ve been working on two canvases.
A reminiscence of our garden at Etten with cabbages, cypresses, dahlias and figures.8 Then a Woman reading a novel in a library like the Lecture Française. A completely green woman.9
Gauguin gives me courage to imagine, and the things of the imagination do indeed take on a more mysterious character.
The consignment from Tasset arrived the day before yesterday, and we were very pleased with it.10
Could Tasset also send, but it’s needed urgently:

1 very large tube of Vermilion
  (same size as the large flake whites)
3 tubes, the same size, of Prussian Blue.

We’d be infinitely obliged.
I’m pleased that Jet Mauve has written, and I dare to believe that little by little they’ll come round to the Impressionists after all.
A handshake in thought, and my regards to De Haan and Isaäcson.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 724 | CL: 562
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, Sunday, 11 or Monday, 12 November 1888

1. Van Gogh had sent Theo Pink peach trees (‘Souvenir de Mauve’) (F 394/ JH 1379 [2577]) to give to Mauve’s widow in memory of her late husband; see letter 590, n. 5. Willemien van Gogh wrote on 23 December 1888 to Theo and Jo Bonger about Pink peach trees: ‘Israëls had seen Vincent’s painting at Jet’s and had said, he is a clever lad!’ (FR b2387).
2. Charles Laval, Self-portrait, 1888 (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum). Ill. 2247 [2247]. Laval sent this self-portrait, reproduced in the letter sketch, in exchange for a study from the batch Van Gogh sent to Pont-Aven. It is not known which work Laval chose, but it must have been one of the following: ‘Red sunset’, Garden with flowers (F 578 / JH 1538 [2686]) and an unidentified work (see letter 698, n. 1). Later Van Gogh reserved his Self-portrait (F 501 / JH 1634 [3042]) for him (see letter 736), possibly because he found his study of too little value to exchange for Laval’s self-portrait, which he admired greatly; see also letter 800.
[2247] [2686] [3042]
3. This seascape by Bernard is not known. It emerges from letter 716 that Bernard had chosen two studies from Van Gogh’s consignment (in addition to Quay with sand barges (F 449 / JH 1558 [2700]) in exchange for his self-portrait; see letter 697). It is not known which two he took of the three works mentioned above (n. 2).
4. It is not known whether Theo actually bought a work by Maximilien Luce. The two paintings by Luce that are now in the Van Gogh Museum were both painted after Theo’s death and so could not have belonged to his collection. Neither the account book nor the insurance policies issued to Jo van Gogh-Bonger in 1892 and 1893 mention any work by Luce. See Account book 2002, FR b4553 and b4557.
5. Paul Gauguin, Woman with pigs (In the full heat of the day), 1888 (W320/W301) (private collection). Ill. 2249 [2249].
6. This ‘magnificent pot with 2 rats’ heads’ by Gauguin is lost; it was reproduced in Still life with a fan, 1887-1888 (W259/W377) (Paris, Musée d’Orsay) (Ill. 114 [114]), and in the Portrait of Mrs Alexandre Kohler (W258/W314) (Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, Chester Dale Collection). A sketch of it appears in the Album Briant (Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins). See Wildenstein 2001, p. 358. The sculpture was first at Theo’s, as emerges from a letter written by Gauguin to Schuffenecker on 25 October 1888: ‘So when you have time, make up a package with the horned pot that is at Van Gogh’s, and a little matt pot with Cleopatra that is at your place and send them to me. We’re in a rather nice little house here, and I should like to have a little pottery to look at.’ (Quand vous aurez le temps faites donc un paquet avec le pot à cornes qui est chez Van Gog et un petit pot mat qui est chez vous avec Cléopâtre et envoyez-les moi. Nous sommes ici dans une petite maison assez gentille et je voudrais avoir devant mes yeux un peu de poterie.) See Merlhès 1989, p. 127.
[114] [954]
7. For Bernard’s painting Breton women in the meadow [2236], which Gauguin had taken to Arles, see letter 712, n. 4.
8. Reminiscence of the garden at Etten (F 496 / JH 1630 [2747]). Here Van Gogh calls it ‘garden at Etten’ and in letter 723 ‘garden at Nuenen’.
9. Woman reading a novel (F 497 / JH 1632 [2748]). Van Gogh is probably referring here to some sort of library, of which there were many in those days, such as the ‘cabinets de lecture’ (reading rooms). Cf. Françoise Parent-Lardeur, Les cabinets de lecture, la lecture publique à Paris sous la restauration. Paris 1982. Van Gogh’s mention of the ‘Lecture Française’ could also allude to the title of a painting (cf. his Parisian novels).
10. In letter 710 of 22 October, Van Gogh had ordered new canvas and paint; in letter 713 Theo wrote that Tasset would send what Vincent had requested as soon as possible.