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724 To Theo van Gogh. Arles, on or about Tuesday, 11 December 1888.

No. 724 (Brieven 1990 731, Complete Letters 565)
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, on or about Tuesday, 11 December 1888

Source status
Original manuscript

Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b612 V/1962

Letter 726 used to be placed before 724, but we think – as do Pickvance, Merlhès and Dorn – that the order of these letters should be reversed. See exhib. cat. New York 1984, p. 262; Merlhès 1989, pp. 226-227; and Dorn 1990, pp. 525-527.
In the present letter Vincent thanks Theo for the money he sent (ll. 2-4). Previous editions have assumed that this was the third instalment of the December allowance, namely the payment due on the 23rd (on this subject, see letter 736). This would mean that there is no confirmation of receipt of the second instalment, and that Van Gogh wrote this letter on 23 December, shortly before mutilating his ear. We think it more plausible that this is confirmation of the second instalment of the December allowance and that Vincent was prevented from sending confirmation of the third payment in the aftermath of his self-mutilation. We have therefore dated this letter to about Tuesday, 11 December 1888.
This agrees with the assumption that the letter was enclosed in a letter from Gauguin, who had written to Theo to tell him that he wanted to return to Paris (see Additional details), whereas he changed his mind in a letter that was sent later, together with 726 of 17 or 18 December (see n. 28 to that letter).

This letter was probably sent together with a letter Gauguin had written to Theo, informing him of his desire to return to Paris; lines 5-9 in the present letter seem to be a direct reference to this. See n. 1.

original text
Mon cher Theo
Je te remercie beaucoup de ta lettre, du billet de 100 fr. y inclus et egalement du mandat de 50 fr.
Je crois moi que Gauguin s’était un peu decouragé de la bonne ville d’Arles, de la petite maison jaune où nous travaillons et surtout de moi.1
En effet il y aurait pour lui comme pour moi des difficultés graves à vaincre encore ici.
Mais ces difficultés sont plutôt en dedans de nous mêmes qu’autrepart.
En somme je crois moi qu’ou bien il partira carrément – ou bien qu’il restera carrément. Avant d’agir je lui ai dit de réfléchir et de refaire ses calculs.
Gauguin est très fort, très createur, mais justement à cause de cela il lui faut de la paix.
La trouvera-t-il ailleurs s’il ne la trouve pas ici.
J’attends qu’il prenne une decision avec une sérénité absolue.– Bonne poignee de main.


My dear Theo
Thank you very much for your letter, for the 100-franc note enclosed with it, and also the 50-franc money order.
I myself think that Gauguin had become a little disheartened by the good town of Arles, by the little yellow house where we work, and above all by me.1
Indeed, there are bound to be grave difficulties still to overcome here, for him as well as for me.
But these difficulties are rather within ourselves than elsewhere.
All in all, I think personally that he’ll either definitely go or he’ll definitely stay. I told him to think and do his sums again before acting.
Gauguin is very strong, very creative, but precisely because of that he must have peace.  1v:2
Will he find it elsewhere if he doesn’t find it here?
I’m waiting with absolute serenity for him to make a decision. Good handshake.

1. Gauguin wrote to Theo: ‘I should be obliged if you would send me part of the money for the paintings that have been sold. Taking everything into account I am obliged to return to Paris; Vincent and I can absolutely not live side by side without trouble, as a result of incompatibility of temperament, and both he and I need tranquillity for our work. He is a man of remarkable intelligence, whom I greatly respect and whom I leave with regret, but I repeat, it is necessary’ (Je vous serais obligé de m’envoyer une partie de l’argent des tableaux vendus. Tout calcul fait je suis obligé de rentrer à Paris; Vincent et moi ne pouvons absolument vivre côte à côte sans trouble par suite d’incompatibilité d’humeur et lui comme moi avons besoin de tranquilité pour notre travail. C’est un homme remarquable d’intelligence que j’estime beaucoup et que je quitte à regret, mais je vous le répète c’est necessaire). See Correspondance Gauguin 1984, p. 301.