24 April 1889

My dear Vincent,
I was very touched by your letter, which we received yesterday,1 you really say too many kind things about a thing that’s just entirely natural, not taking into account that you’ve given it back to me several times over, both by your work and by a brotherly affection which is worth more than all the money I’ll ever possess.  1v:2
It pains me to know that you’re still in a state of incomplete health. Although nothing in your letter betrays weakness of mind, on the contrary, the fact that you judge it necessary to enter an asylum is quite serious in itself. Let’s hope that this will be merely a preventive measure. As I know you well enough to believe you capable of all the sacrifices imaginable, I’ve thought that there’s a possibility that you may have thought of this solution to encumber less those who know you. If that’s the case, I beg you not to do it, for certainly life  1v:3 in there can’t be agreeable. So be well aware of what you’re doing, and if perhaps you wouldn’t make another try first. Either by coming back here for a while, or by going to Pont-Aven during the summer, or by trying to board with people who would take care of you.
If you had no ulterior motive in writing to me as you did, I find that you’re absolutely right to go to St-Rémy. By staying there for a while you’ll be able to regain confidence in your own strength, and nothing will prevent you from returning to Arles after a little while if the heart tells you to. Mr Salles has sent me some prospectuses of St-Rémy  1r:4 in which it’s said that a third party must request admission.2 I therefore enclose the letter for the director of the establishment, which you can use however you wish.3 As soon as you’ve decided to leave I’ll send you the necessary money. Now I also want to tell you that we’ve been here since last Saturday, we’re almost settled in, and every day the apartment takes on a more lived-in aspect, thanks to all sorts of inventions on Jo’s part. We get along very well together, so that there’s such complete satisfaction on both sides that we feel happier than I can tell you. We left Mother and the sisters in perfect  2r:5 health. Ma seems to be getting younger. She has now gone back to Breda after an absence of almost a month.4 My marriage pleased her very much, above all because Jo and herself and Wil get on perfectly, moreover she has something so sincere in her ways that there are many people on whom she makes a very agreeable impression. Although there are many things of life about which she does not know and on which her opinion must be formed, she has such a fund of good will and ardour to do good that I’m no longer afraid of the disillusionments I feared before our marriage.  2v:6 Up to now everything is going much better than I had thought, and I hadn’t dared hope for so much happiness. I didn’t have enough time in Holland to see many paintings, but I saw the Jewish bride5 once again, and the other Rembrandts, the F. Hals in Haarlem,6 which I found more beautiful than ever, and Rembrandt’s portrait of an old woman at the museum in Brussels.7 This last one is very fine. These old portraits are what’s most remarkable and most characteristic in Holland. We’re a long way from that age, when we see the people of today. At C.M.’s there was an exhibition of charcoal croquis by Mauve, leaves from his sketchbooks.8 Very touching things. Jet made us a present of one of those drawings, with which I’m very, very pleased.9
Write to me soon about what you’ve definitely decided and don’t despair, for better days will certainly still come for you.
I shake both your hands.



Br. 1990: 764 | CL: T5
From: Theo van Gogh
To: Vincent van Gogh
Date: Paris, Wednesday, 24 April 1889

1. This was letter 760.
2. Salles had sent the prospectus with his letter to Theo of 19 April 1889 (FR b1050). The complete text of an 1866 brochure is included in Coquiot 1923, pp. 201-211. Cf. also the photographs of a prospectus preserved in the Tralbaut archives (Van Gogh Museum, Documentation) and the illustration in exhib. cat. New York 1986, p. 26.
3. In this letter, dated 24 April 1889, Theo wrote to Dr Théophile Peyron, director of the asylum at Saint-Rémy, that he hoped ‘you will have no objection to allowing him the freedom to paint outside the institution when he wishes to do so’ (que vous ne trouverez aucun inconvenient en lui accordant la liberté, de faire de la peinture en dehors de l’établissement quand il le désirera). See Documentation, 24 April 1889. Peyron received his letter through Salles; see letter 763.
4. On 31 March Mrs van Gogh and Willemien had travelled with Theo from Breda to Amsterdam (FR b2432), where they stayed until after the wedding, which took place on 18 April.
6. For the paintings by Hals in Haarlem, see letter 130, n. 2.
7. Now ‘Circle of Rembrandt’, The dead woman (Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts). Ill. 364 [364].
8. From 8 to 15 April there were sketches and drawings by Anton Mauve on display at C.M. van Gogh’s gallery at Keizersgracht 453. The Amsterdam society Arti et Amicitiae had held a viewing of these studies on 28 March. See De Groene Amsterdammer, 14 April 1889 and De Amsterdammer. Dagblad voor Nederland, 27 March 1889 and 9 April 1889.
9. Theo probably received as a present Mauve’s Study of a flock of sheep (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum), Ill. 2281 [2281] which has Sketch of a landscape with sheep on the verso.