My dear Theo,
Thanks for your letter – which I’ve just received. All the more so since in this case I prefer to be wrong than to be right: certainly we’re absolutely, absolutely in agreement as regards the reasoning you give in your letter. I also envisage the thing that way.1
What’s new is that I think Mr Salles is trying to find me an apartment in another part of town. I approve of that, for in that way I wouldn’t be forced to move house immediately – I would keep a pied-à-terre, and then I could certainly make a trip as far as Marseille or further to find better. Mr Salles is very kind and very loyal, and it’s a happy contrast with others here. Anyway. That’s all that’s new for the moment. If on your side you would write, try to influence them so that I have the right to go out into the town nevertheless.
As far as I can judge I’m not mad, strictly speaking.
You’ll see that the canvases I’ve done in the intervals are calm and not inferior to others.2 I miss work rather than it tires me.  1v:2
It would certainly give me pleasure to see Signac if he must pass through here anyway.3 They must then let me go out with him to show him my canvases.
Then perhaps it would have been good that I should accompany him where he’s going, and that the two of us could have sought a new place, but there, since that’s actually scarcely probable, what’s the good of him putting himself out expressly to come and see me?
What I find excellent in your letter is that you say that one mustn’t on any account have illusions about life.
One must seize the reality of one’s fate and that’s that. I’m writing in haste to send this letter, which will perhaps not reach you until Sunday all the same, by which time Signac will already have left. I can’t do anything about that.
All that I would ask is that people I don’t even know by name (for they took great care to  1r:3 act so that I don’t know who sent that document in question) don’t meddle with me when I’m in the middle of painting, eating or sleeping or having a fuck in the brothel (not having a wife). Yet they meddle with all that.4
But despite all that I don’t give a damn at all – were it not for the pain I’m quite involuntarily causing you thus, or rather that they’re causing – and for the delay in work &c.
These repeated and unexpected emotions, if they should continue, could change a fleeting, momentary mental disturbance into a chronic illness. Rest assured that if nothing happens I would now be able to do the same work in the orchards, and perhaps better, that I did the other year.5 Now let’s be as firm as possible, and in short not allow people to tread on our toes too much. Right from the beginning I had very malicious opposition here. All this fuss will naturally do good to ‘Impressionism’, but you and I personally, we’ll suffer for a bunch of bastards and cowards.
There’s something to be said for keeping one’s indignation to oneself, isn’t there? Already I’ve seen in a newspaper here a really very good article on decadent or Impressionist literature6 – but what do these newspaper articles &c. do to you and me? As my good friend Roulin says, ‘it is acting as a pedestal for others’. At least one would wish to know for what or for whom, wouldn’t one? Then one couldn’t oppose it. But being a pedestal for something you aren’t aware of is annoying.  1v:4
Anyway, all of that is nothing provided you walk straight towards your goal – once your home is secured, there’s a lot won for me too, and once that’s done we can perhaps rediscover a more peaceful path after your marriage.
If sooner or later I became really mad I think I wouldn’t want to stay here at the hospital, but just for the moment I still want to leave here freely. For if I still understand myself a little there will be an interval between here and there.
The best for me would certainly be not to remain alone, but I would prefer to remain eternally in a madhouse than to sacrifice another existence to my own. For the trade of painter is sad and bad these days. If I were a Catholic I could resort to making a monk of myself, but since I’m not exactly one, as you know, I don’t have that resort. The administration of the hospital is – how shall I put it – Jesuit, they’re very, very shrewd, very learned, very powerful, even Impressionistic... they know how to obtain information with an unheard-of subtlety – but – but – it astonishes and confuses me – yet...
Anyway, there you have something of the cause of my silence, so stay apart from me for business matters, and in the meantime I am a man too, after all, you know, I’ll get by on my own, as regards what concerns me in matters of conscience.
I shake your hand heartily in thought, tell your fiancée, Mother and our sister not to worry about me, and to believe that I’m well on the road to recovery.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 755 | CL: 580
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Arles, Friday, 22 March 1889

1. In response to Vincent’s previous letter (750), Theo must have gone into the issue of what should happen when Vincent was released from hospital. He, too, undoubtedly thought that moving to a different part of town was the best option.
2. Between the various attacks of his illness, Van Gogh painted the following canvases in any case: Still life with onions and Annuaire de la santé (F 604 / JH 1656 [2763]), Self-portrait with bandaged ear (F 527 / JH 1657 [2764]), Self-portrait with bandaged ear and pipe (F 529 / JH 1658 [2765]), Félix Rey (F 500 / JH 1659 [2766]), Blue gloves and a basket of oranges and lemons (F 502 / JH 1664 [2768]), Sunflowers in a vase (F 455 / JH 1668 [2772]), Sunflowers in a vase (F 458 / JH 1667 [2771]) and three versions of Augustine Roulin (‘La berceuse’) (F 505 / JH 1669 [2773], F 506 / JH 1670 [2774] and F 507 / JH 1672 [2776]). He had also finished Gauguin’s chair (F 499 / JH 1636 [2750]), Van Gogh’s chair (F 498 / JH 1635 [2749]) and Augustine Roulin (‘La berceuse’) (F 508 / JH 1671 [2775]). It is possible that in this period he also painted the three portraits of Joseph Roulin F 435 / JH 1674, F 436 / JH 1675 [2777] and F 439 / JH 1673; they definitely originated in the spring of 1889, but it is not known exactly when. For these portraits Van Gogh took as his example the large Joseph Roulin (F 432 / JH 1522 [2672]). Cf. Hulsker 1993-2, pp. 227-230.
[2763] [2764] [2765] [2766] [2768] [2772] [2771] [2773] [2774] [2776] [2750] [2749] [2775] [2777] [2672]
3. Regarding Signac’s visit, see letter 752.
4. Van Gogh later added ‘ou de tirer ... tout cela’ (or having ... all that).
5. In March-April 1888 Van Gogh had made a series of paintings of orchards in blossom; see letter 600, n. 7.
6. Van Gogh is referring to the article ‘Les décadents’ by Adrien Frissant, which had been published in instalments in Le Forum Républicain of 3, 10 and 24 February and 3 March 1888. Frissant ridicules the basic principles, use of language and the conduct of the ‘Ecole décadente’, attacking in particular the incomprehensibility of symbolist poetry. In the last instalment he quotes the poet René Ghil, who had written in his foreword to his Légendes d’âmes et de sang not to seek words ‘which narrate’ but rather words ‘which impress’. Frissant therefore speaks of ‘the “Impressionist” language’ to which Van Gogh refers.