My dear friend Signac,
Thanks very much for your postcard, which gives me news of you.1 As for my brother not having replied to your letter yet, I’m inclined to believe that it’s not his fault. I’ve also been without news of him for a fortnight.2 It’s because he’s in Holland, where he’s getting married one of these days. Now, while not denying the advantages of a marriage in the very least, once it has been done and one is quietly set up in one’s home, the funereal pomp of the reception &c., the lamentable congratulations of two families (even civilized) at the same time, not to mention the fortuitous appearances in those pharmacist’s jars where antediluvian civil or religious magistrates sit – my word – isn’t there good reason to pity the poor unfortunate obliged to present himself armed with the requisite papers in the places where, with a ferocity unequalled by the cruellest cannibals, you’re married alive on the low heat of the aforementioned funereal receptions.  1v:2
I remain much obliged to you for your most friendly and beneficial visit, which considerably contributed to cheering me up.3
I am well now and I’m working in the hospital or its surroundings. Thus I’ve just brought back two studies of orchards.

Here’s a hasty croquis of them – the largest is a poor green countryside with little cottages, blue line of the Alpilles, white and blue sky. The foreground, enclosures with reed hedges where little peach trees are in blossom – everything there is small, the gardens, the fields, the gardens, the trees, even those mountains, as in certain Japanese landscapes, that’s why this subject attracted me.4
The other landscape is almost all green with a little lilac and grey – on a rainy day.5
Very pleased to hear you say that you’ve settled down, and will very much wish to have more news of you. How is work going, what is the character of those parts?

Since then my mind has returned yet more to the normal state, for the time being I don’t ask for better, provided it lasts. That will depend above all on a very sober regime.
For the first few months, at least, I plan to go on staying here. I’ve rented an apartment consisting of two very small rooms.6 But at times it isn’t completely convenient for me to start living again, for I still have inner despairs of quite a large calibre.
My word, these anxieties... who can live in modern life without catching his share of them?
The best consolation, if not the only remedy, is, it still seems to me, profound friendships, even if these have the disadvantage of anchoring us in life more solidly than may appear desirable to us in the days of great suffering.
Thank you again for your visit, which gave me so much pleasure.
Good handshake in thought.

Yours truly,

Address until end of April, place Lamartine 2, Arles.


Br. 1990: 760 | CL: 583b
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Paul Signac
Date: Arles, Wednesday, 10 April 1889

1. This is letter 755.
2. Theo had last written shortly before his departure for the Netherlands on 30 March; Vincent thanks him for his letter in letter 754.
a. A combination of ‘cuire à petit feu’ (cook over a low flame) and ‘brûler à petit feu’ (burn slowly).
3. Signac had visited Van Gogh in Arles on 23 and 24 March; see letter 752.
4. The letter sketch La Crau with peach trees in blossom (F - / JH 1682) was made after the painting of the same name (F 514 / JH 1681 [2779]).
5. The letter sketch Orchard in blossom with a view of Arles (F - / JH 1684) was made after the painting of the same name (F 515 / JH 1683 [2780]). It had rained from 5 to 9 April (Météo-France).
6. In letter 758 Van Gogh reports that this small apartment was owned by Dr Rey. As the house physician, Rey lived at the hospital, so it is possible that he had put his apartment, or part of it, at Van Gogh’s disposal. Rey’s address was Rampe du Pont, near the Pont de Trinquetaille (ACA; L’indicateur marseillais 1889).
In the end Van Gogh decided against taking this apartment, as Salles informed Theo on Friday, 19 April 1889: ‘he was coming to an arrangement with a landlord when all of a sudden he confessed to me that for the time being he did not feel he had the courage to take possession of himself again and that it would be infinitely better for him, that it would be more sensible for him to go and spend two or three months in an asylum’ (il était sur le point de conclure avec un propriétaire quand tout à coup il m’a fait l’aveu qu’il ne se sentait pas pour le moment le courage de rentrer en possession de lui-même et qu’il lui conviendrait infiniment mieux, qu’il serait plus sage pour lui d’aller passer deux ou trois mois dans une maison de santé) (FR b1050).