Back to site

742 Christian Vilhelm Mourier-Petersen to Vincent van Gogh. Holbaekgaard, Friday, 25 January 1889.

No. 742 (Brieven 1990 746, Complete Letters -)
From: Christian Mourier-Petersen
To: Vincent van Gogh
Date: Holbaekgaard, Friday, 25 January 1889

Source status
Original manuscript

Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, inv. no. b1327 V/1962

Letter headed: ‘25 jan. 1889.’

Vincent probably received this letter from Theo, who sent it together with his own letter, for which Vincent thanks him in letter 748. Mourier-Petersen assumed that Vincent was no longer in Arles (ll. 57-59).
At the bottom of p. [1r:4] Van Gogh wrote in pencil:
‘Roulin Courrier Convoyeur
chez Mme Degal
Rue Breteuil No 57

original text
Holbækgaard pr1 Ørsted.
25 jan. 1889.

Mon cher van Gogh!
En Hollande j’ai réçu votre lettre aimable et à présent, mon voyage fini, je vous rémerçie beaucoup de votre amitié et d’avoir pensé à moi.–
Le séjour chez votre frère m’a fait du bien, et je serais très content si j’ai pu contribuer à diminuer autour de lui cet vide qu’on éprouve si façilement à Paris.–2
Dans votre pays j’ai fait deux copies d’après Rembrandt, “la Suzanne” à la Haye et  1v:2 plus tard “la noce juive” à Amsterdam.3 C’est la prémière fois que j’ai fait des copies et je ne recommençerai pas. Céla ne me dit rien, si ce n’était pas pour avoir un souvenir de ces chef-d’oeuvres magnifiques.
Il-y-a parmi vos compatriotes des peintres du talent et les oeuvres de Mauve, Israels et Breitner m’ont très interéssé, seulement il me semble, qu’ils ne s’efforçent pas assez de voir de leurs propres yeux.–
Quant aux peintres scandinaves je les ai trouvés les mêmes qu’avant mon départ. Parmi les jeunes il-y-en ont bien qui veulent produire quelque chose d’original et  1v:3 qui se rapprochent aux impressionistes, mais ils ont élu un jury reactionnaire et bête qui arrète tout progrès.–4
Je crois q’une exposition impressioniste ferait du bien à Copenhague en nous débarassant de certaines conventions. Nous avons déjà vu Claude Monet et Besnard5 – qu’il viennent d’autres!
À présent on prépare l’envoi pour l’exposition à Paris – on le dit très bien.–6
Je serais content de savoir, si vous restez encore à Arles, si tout va bien là-bas etc. mais probablement vous en avez assez, et cette lettre vous trouvera à Paris.–
Quant à moi, je dois rester içi cet été au moins. S’il est possible à l’hiver prochain j’irai à Paris et j’éspère alors de vous revoir.–
Comment va la santé de M. votre frère? Je vous prie de le saluer de ma part. Je pense bientôt de lui envoyer quelque chose.–7 Adieu – bonne santé et bonne chançe. Je vous serre la main.–

Chr. Mourier-Petersen.

Holbaekgaard pr1 Ørsted.
25 Jan. 1889.

My dear Van Gogh!
I received your kind letter in Holland and, now that my journey is over, I thank you very much for your friendship and for having thought of me.
The stay in your brother’s place has done me good, and I would be very happy if I’ve been able to contribute to lessening that emptiness around him that one so easily experiences in Paris.2
In your country I made two copies after Rembrandt: ‘the Suzanne’ in The Hague and  1v:2 later ‘the Jewish wedding’ in Amsterdam.3 It’s the first time I’ve made copies, and I won’t do so again. It doesn’t say anything to me, if it wasn’t to have a memory of these magnificent masterpieces.
There are some talented painters among your compatriots, and the works of Mauve, Israëls and Breitner interested me very much, only it seems to me that they don’t make sufficient effort to see with their own eyes.
As for the Scandinavian painters, I found them the same as before my departure. Among the young ones there are many who want to produce something original and  1v:3 who are close to the Impressionists, but they’ve elected a reactionary and stupid jury which brings all progress to a halt.4
I think that an Impressionist exhibition would do some good in Copenhagen by ridding us of certain conventions. We’ve already seen Claude Monet and Besnard5 – may others come!
At the moment the consignment for the Paris exhibition is being prepared – it’s said to be very good.6
I would be happy to know if you are still staying in Arles, if everything is going well down there etc., but you’ve probably had enough of it, and this letter will find you in Paris.  1r:4
As for me, I must stay here this summer at least. If it’s possible next winter I’ll go to Paris, and I hope to see you again then.
How is your brother’s health? Please say hello to him from me. I hope to send him something soon.7 Adieu – good health and good luck. I shake your hand.

Chr. Mourier-Petersen.
1. Abbreviation of the French ‘près’ (near). Holbækgaard, the country estate of the Mourier-Petersen family, lies to the north of Ørsted.
2. Around 22 May 1888 Mourier-Petersen left Arles for Paris, where he stayed from around 6 June to about 15 August with Theo in rue Lepic. He had spent the months of November and December in the Netherlands. See Larsson 1993, pp. 26-27 (n. 95), 29.
3. Rembrandt, Susanna at the bath, 1636 (The Hague, Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis). Ill. 372 . For Rembrandt’s Jewish bride , see letter 430, n. 10. Mourier-Petersen thus visited the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. His copies are not known.
4. This could refer to Theodor Philipsen, Oda and Christian Krohg, Viggo Johansen and Erik Werenskiold, the Scandinavian artists who participated in the exhibition Nordiske og franske Impressionister, held in Copenhagen from 31 October to 11 November 1889. See exhib. cat. Stockholm 2002, p. 161. The ‘reactionary jury’ most likely refers to the Academy’s board of governors.
5. The exhibition Franske Kunstvaerker was held in Copenhagen from 18 May to 16 October 1888. There was a separate room with paintings by Manet, Monet, Angrand and Sisley, supplied by Theo van Gogh. For many Danish artists this was their first introduction to Impressionism. See Larsson 1993, pp. 4-7. Monet exhibited three seascapes (cat. nos. 201-203). See also Wildenstein 1996, vol. 4, p. 1017.
Four works by Besnard were on display, namely Le sauveur, ballade écossaise (The saviour, Scottish ballad) (cat. no. 27), Après le bain (After bathing) (pastel, cat. no. 28), Soleil du matin (Morning sun) (pastel, cat. no. 29) and Portrait de Mme R.I. (Portrait of Mrs R.I.) (cat. no. 30). See Illustreret katalog over udstillingen af Franske kunstvaerker. F. Hendriksen. Exhib. cat. Copenhagen, 1888. Copenhagen 1888.
6. The World Exhibition was held in Paris from 5 May to 5 November 1889. In the Palais du Champ de Mars, the Danish were represented by 190 paintings. See exhib. cat. Paris 1889-3, pp. 71-74.
7. On 25 February 1890 Mourier-Petersen thanked Theo for his hospitality by sending him the painting Tulip field, c. 1890 (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum).