1. It is not known which two doctors of Rey’s acquaintance Vincent is referring to. Two chief surgeons (Gay and Duffaut), an assistant surgeon (Talon), two chief physicians (Arnaud and Urpar), an assistant physician (Béraud) and a house physician (Félix Rey) were employed by the hospital. There were also five doctors serving the various parishes, who were connected with the Arles Bureau de bienfaisance: in addition to the previously mentioned Duffaut, Talon and Arnaud, these included Delon and Martin-Raget (L’indicateur marseillais 1889). Cf. also n. 15 below.
2. Van Gogh painted a portrait of Rey in mid-January (F 500 / JH 1659 [2766]); he did not paint any other portraits during this period, apart from self-portraits.
3. Van Gogh and Gauguin had visited the Musée Fabre in Montpellier in mid-December. For Delacroix’s Alfred Bruyas [76] in that museum, in which Vincent saw a resemblance to Theo, see letter 726, n. 2.
4. The land Van Gogh is talking about is ‘El Dorado’, described in Candide. Regarding this novel, see letter 568, n. 3.
5. In letter 726 Van Gogh mentioned a ‘bookshop’ where lithographs were sold; it is not known which shop he was referring to.
6. Evidently Theo had been asked to submit works by Vincent to the fifth exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants, to be held in Paris from 3 September to 4 October 1889. At their 1888 exhibition Van Gogh had exhibited three works; see letter 582, nn. 8 and 9. It is possible that the exhibition, which was usually held in the spring, was postponed to coincide with the World Exhibition (5 May - 5 November). Theo mentioned the exhibition again in May 1889 (see letter 774), and eventually submitted two of Vincent’s works: Starry night over the Rhône (F 474 / JH 1592 [2723]) and Irises (F 608 / JH 1691 [2787]), recorded in the catalogue as ‘Nuit étoilée’ (Starry night) and ‘Étude d’oies’ (Study of geese) [sic]. See exhib. cat. Paris 1889-1, p. 20, cat. nos. 272-273, and cf. letter 799.
[2723] [2787]
7. In contrast to what Vincent assumed, Theo had meanwhile been in the Netherlands to make his engagement to Jo Bonger official. He left on 5 January and returned to Paris on 13 January. See Brief happiness 1999, pp. 83-84.
8. This was letter 733, which was written the same day (see l. 105); Van Gogh had received a letter from Jet Mauve, in which she thanked him for the painting Pink peach trees (‘Souvenir de Mauve’) (F 394 / JH 1379 [2577]). See letter 719, n. 1.
9. Gauguin was planning to visit his wife and children in Copenhagen; see letter 723, n. 13.
10. Gauguin had been invited to display his work at the sixth exhibition of the artists’ society Les Vingt in Brussels; see letter 723, n. 12. By Gauguin’s success in Paris Vincent is referring to the fact that between 10 November and 4 December Theo had sold works by Gauguin for a total of 1,700 francs. See letter 722, n. 1.
11. Theo had already written in detail about Vincent’s condition to his mother and Willemien; their letters to Theo of 29 and 30 December 1888 reveal their concern. See Documentation, 29 and 30 December 1888, and Jansen et al. 2003-2.
12. Regarding Van Gogh’s spell in hospital in The Hague in June 1882, see letter 237.
13. Roulin had accompanied Van Gogh the first time he was allowed to leave the hospital, on 4 January, and had arranged some practical matters for him, such as paying the rent and cleaning out the house. See letter 730. When Van Gogh was released from hospital, Roulin stayed with him the whole day. See Joseph Roulin to Willemien van Gogh, Documentation, 8 January 1889.
14. A bit further on in the letter Van Gogh mentions the publisher François Buffa. An undated publisher’s catalogue of Buffa lists the etching that C.L. Dake made after Rembrandt’s Anatomy lesson. The large print (64 x 84 cm) was available on various kinds of paper, the most expensive costing 60 guilders (c. 120 francs). See Catalogue des éditions de François Buffa & fils. Fournisseurs de la cour, éditeurs, marchands de Beaux-arts, tableaux, aquarelles, gravures, eau-fortes, encadrements, ouvrages illustrés, restauration et vernissage de tableaux, etc. etc. Exposition permanente. Amsterdam, Kalverstraat 39. The Hague, Noordeinde. n.d. Theo must have sent the print shortly afterwards, since Félix Rey already thanked him on 12 February 1889: ‘I have received the print which you so kindly sent me’ (J’ai reçu la gravure que vous avez eu la bonté de m’envoyer) (FR b1057).
15. In letter 735 Van Gogh reports that this doctor came from Paris, but it is not known to whom he is referring. In any case, it is certain that Albert Delon had studied at the medical university in Paris (below his contributions to L’Homme de Bronze is written ‘ancien interne des hospices de Paris’, the honorary title of graduates of L’Internat des Hôpitaux de Paris). He treated Van Gogh in February 1889. See letter 747, n. 1. Dr Auriol, who had also been trained in Paris, also worked at the hospital as a surgeon (ACA).
16. Particulars regarding Van Gogh’s injury are to be found in Doiteau and Leroy 1939, pp. 8-11.