The Hague 15 February 1889.

My dear Vincent,
I recently received your letter while I was staying in Winschoten.1 Although the letter gave me great pleasure, I found your report that you had been ill in hospital much less pleasant. Have you perhaps been working too much; because with a compulsion to work such as you have it’s quite possible that one does too much, and then in such a hot climate. But according to everyone who’s stayed in the south of France, what the summer there gives in too much abundance is glorious, that’s to say the wonderful warmth in the winter. I’m therefore thinking very seriously of visiting you if nothing comes up to prevent it. For the time being I’ve made a plan with a friend to go to Paris in the late autumn, when one can no longer  1v:2 paint outdoors here, also to see the exhibition,2 and then we’ll be very close to you and won’t be much inclined to go back to our chilly watery country. It’s filthy weather here at the moment, no shortage of hail, snow and squalls. I’m steadily extricating myself and paint despite the snags, often things that I don’t find particularly good myself, but for which I’m paid. This is less enjoyable, but I don’t have any complaints yet, because there’s a great deal of time left when I can work for myself. According to what people are saying here, I’ve become very forceful in my colour. My stay in Paris3 has brought about a wholesale reorganization as regards my thinking about the colours and their mutual relationship, and I just keep quietly going on along the road I’ve taken and which I think to be the best. The friend of mine with whom I’m going to Paris, and perhaps to the south, is a young man of great skill and originality, great admirer of Claude Monet. Apropos, speaking of the latter master — some days ago I was with my Roessingh relations in Haarlem and, as usual, the conversation turned to art and artists, when my cousin Cato van de Stadt suddenly says, ‘Yes we also know a French painter and his wife who used to come and paint  1r:3 in Zaandam. They’re great friends of ours and our family in Zaandam,’4 and, what a coincidence, there in my cousin’s album in Haarlem I find the portraits of Claude Monet and his wife;5 of someone whose work I so admired in Paris. According to Theo, Breitner was the greatest Dutch genius.6 It does me good to hear a connoisseur like Theo do justice to a Dutchman of such a great reputation, all the same aren’t Jaap and Willem and Thijs Maris and Israëls fellows who uphold the fame of the Dutch school of painting with honour? I recently saw a study by Israëls. At the exhibition in Rotterdam, an impression of a stormy, showery evening with a shepherd and sheep, a  2r:4 tremendously fine thing. It’s sold, I read recently (in the Handelsblad?), for four thousand guilders, and this is certainly a very great deal for a study.7 As a great interpreter of the fine grey Dutch countryside, Mauve is certainly at the top. Edzard (my brother) and I were recently able to acquire some reproductions of drawings by the deceased master, a timber auction after a watercolour.8 Also two watercolours with sheep on the heath.9 If I ever go to Amsterdam I’ll be sure to look Breitner up, but I almost never go to A. if I don’t need anything there. I think Amsterdam’s an even lousier city than The Hague. As regards sending one or more of my studies: I’ll be delighted to do so, even though it’s a great distance.10 I’m also engaged in the art trade nowadays in association with my  2v:5 brother. We have a painting by Willem Maris, a large watercolour by Roelofs. Further, I also have various drawings by Bauer and one by De Zwart and one by Thorn Prikker (all top cracks).11 Do you happen to know Tholen too, someone with a great deal of talent I’m quite good friends with? And now I just get an announcement from Theodoor of his forthcoming marriage to Miss Bonger. I’m immensely pleased that the good fellow’s getting married. I wrote him a letter during his stay in A. I had just then arrived in Winschoten, otherwise I would have been represented there in person. Well, I’ll just leave it at that for the time being, with sincere wishes for your good health, I am

your affectionate friend

163 van Diemenstraat
The Hague


Br. 1990: 750 | CL: -
From: Arnold Koning
To: Vincent van Gogh
Date: The Hague, Friday, 15 February 1889

1. This was letter 740.
2. It is not known who this friend was. In any case, Koning’s plan never came to fruition: he would never return to France.
The World Exhibition was held in Paris from 5 May to 5 November 1889.
3. From September 1887 to the end of May 1888 Koning stayed in Paris, where he lived for a time with Theo (see letter 578, n. 8).
4. Hendrik Roessingh, probably a cousin of Koning, was married to Catharina (Cato) van de Stadt. During his stay in Zaandam, from June to October 1871, Monet had painted Cato’s sixteen-year-old niece Guurtje van de Stadt. See exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1986, pp. 42, 46 (n. 22), 142-143, cat. no. 25.
5. The portrait photographs of Claude Monet and his wife Camille Monet-Doncieux, taken in 1871 by Albert Greiner in Amsterdam, are still in the possession of the Van de Stadt family. Ill. 2276 [2276] and Ill. 2277 [2277].
[2276] [2277]
6. Van Gogh had written this in letter 740.
7. Jozef Israëls, The shepherd (The Hague, Gemeentemusem). Ill. 189 [189]. It was shown at the exhibition Levende Meesters (Living Masters) in Rotterdam (cat. no. 94). Goupil’s Hague branch bought it on 17 July 1888 for 3,500 guilders and sent it on to Boussod, Valadon & Cie in London, where it was sold in April 1889 for £ 400 (4,800 guilders) to C. Roberts of Leeds. See RKD, Goupil Ledgers and exhib. cat. Groningen 1999, p. 216, cat. no. 42. The newspaper in which Koning could have read this article has not been traced.
8. This reproduction is probably of the well-known Timber auction (The Hague, The Mesdag Collection). See cat. The Hague 1996, p. 298, cat. no. 219.
9. Mauve made many watercolours of this subject. One of the best known is Flock of sheep on the heath at Laren (Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet). It can no longer be ascertained which drawings or reproductions of drawings are referred to here.
a. Read: ‘niets’.
10. In letter 740 Van Gogh had again mentioned this intended exchange (see letter 614, n. 3).
11. It could not be discovered which works by these artists the Koning brothers owned. It is possible that the Dutch word ‘kranen’ used by Koning should be taken literally as ‘cranes’ (the birds).