[Letterhead: Goupil and Boussod Paris]

16 June 1889

My dear Vincent,
I should have written to you a long, long time ago but I couldn’t put my thoughts into words. There are moments which one feels well, but when it’s so difficult to take account of what has taken shape in thought and what is still in a vague state. So I’m not sure of being able to write to you as I wanted today, but my letter will leave all the same, if only to tell you that we often think of you  1r:2 and that your latest paintings have given me a great deal to think about as regards your state of mind when you made them. All of them have a power of colour which you hadn’t attained before, which in itself is a rare quality, but you have gone further, and if there are people who occupy themselves seeking the symbol by dint of torturing the form, I find it in many of your canvases through the expression of the summary of your thoughts on nature and living beings, which you feel are so strongly attached to it. But how hard your mind must have worked and how you endangered yourself to the extreme point where vertigo is inevitable. With regard to that, my dear brother, when you tell me that you’re working again, which gladdens me on the one hand, because in it you find a means of avoiding the state into which many of the unfortunates fall who are cared for in the establishment where you are, I think of it  1v:3 with a little anxiety, for before your complete recovery you mustn’t put yourself at risk in these mysterious regions, which it appears one can touch lightly but not enter with impunity. Don’t give yourself more trouble than is necessary, for if you give only a simple account of what you see, there are sufficient good qualities for your canvases to last. Think of the still lifes and of the flowers Delacroix did when he went to the country to stay with G. Sand.1 It’s true that afterwards he had a reaction by doing the Education of the Virgin,2 and that’s not to say that in doing as I tell you you won’t make a masterpiece afterwards. But direct your works in such a way that they don’t over-exert you. As you know, there’s an exhibition in a café at the exhibition where Gauguin and a few others (Schuffenecker) are exhibiting. At first I’d said that you would exhibit there too, but they acted like such rowdies there that it became really  1v:4 bad to be part of it. However, Schuff. claims that this display will eclipse all the other painters, and if one had let him have his way I think he would have walked through Paris with the flags of all colours to show that he was the great conqueror. It was a bit like going to the World Exhibition by the back stairs. As always there were exclusions. As Lautrec had exhibited at a circle he wasn’t allowed to be in it, etc.3
The other day a Rembrandt sketch was sold in a public sale, I would like you to have seen it, it was the figure of the Angel Gabriel standing, which is in the sky of his etching of the annunciation to the shepherds.4 What a marvel! The colour had remained quite bright; perhaps originally it was all yellow. The shadows were much more coloured than he usually does them, and were probably very pronounced blue, green and violet, but of an exquisite unity and harmony. Those who hold up the best at the big exhibition are Corot, Manet, Delacroix, Millet, Ricard, and above all Daumier.5 Some Degas were put in it, but he had them taken out. Gauguin left for Pont-Aven a fortnight ago, so he hasn’t seen your paintings. Isaäcson likes your latest consignment very much. I’ll send the Bedroom back to you,6 but you shouldn’t retouch this canvas, it can be repaired. Copy it and send that one back so that I can have it lined. The red vineyard is very beautiful, I’ve hung it in one of our rooms.7 I also very much like the vertical figure of a woman,8 there was a fellow here named Polack who knows Spain and the paintings there well.9 He said that it was as beautiful as one of the great Spaniards. Good health and good handshake from Jo and from



Br. 1990: 783 | CL: T10
From: Theo van Gogh
To: Vincent van Gogh
Date: Paris, Sunday, 16 June 1889

1. Delacroix stayed with George Sand at her country estate at Nohant in June 1842, July 1843 and August 1846. Delacroix was inspired by the garden at Nohant, where he made various studies of flowers and trees. The flower studies were painted partly as preparation for five large paintings that he exhibited at the Salon in 1849. One of the studies, Two vases of flowers (Bremen, Kunsthalle), was included in the retrospective exhibition in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1885, which Theo had visited. See Johnson 1981-1989, vol. 3, p. 260, cat. no. 499, and Maurice Serullaz, Inventaire général des dessins. Ecole Française. Dessins d’Eugène Delacroix 1798-1863. Paris 1984, vol. 1, pp. 440-442.
2. During his first stay at Nohant in 1842, Delacroix painted The education of the Virgin for his hostess (Paris, Musée National Eugène Delacroix). Ill. 68 [68]. According to reports, this painting was inspired by something he had seen on one of his walks: a peasant girl, seated on a tree trunk, receiving a lesson from her mother. In 1853 Delacroix made a smaller version of the painting, titled The education of the Virgin or Saint Anne (Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art). See Johnson 1981-1989, vol. 3, pp. 215-216, cat. no. 426; pp. 240-241, cat. no. 461.
3. Theo probably criticized the Volpini exhibition in similar terms in a now-lost letter to Gauguin, who was staying in Pont-Aven. Gauguin responded to it in his letter of about 1 July 1889: ‘Yes, there are a few rowdies but if I had been there, everything would have been done more simply’. (Oui il y a un peu de casseur d’assiettes mais si j’avais été là le tout aurait été fait plus simplement). He also explained why Lautrec had not been allowed to exhibit: ‘As far as Lautrec is concerned, I believe the truest reason is that Lautrec thinks of one thing only, that’s himself and not the others. So it’s probable that these gentlemen will have judged it preferable to do the same, i.e., to manage without him.’ (Quant à ce qui est de Lautrec je crois que la raison la plus vraie est que Lautrec ne considère qu’une chose c’est lui et non pas les autres. Alors il est probable que ces messieurs auront jugé preférable d’en faire autant c.a.d. de compter sans lui). In his previous letter to Theo of about 10 June 1889, Gauguin said he had organized the exhibition, but had handed things over to Schuffenecker and Bernard when he left. See Gauguin lettres 1983, pp. 92-107 (GAC 13B, GAC 14), and Merlhès 1995, pp. 26-28.
4. Theo must have seen The archangel Raphael (present whereabouts unknown; no longer attributed to Rembrandt) at one of the viewings of the Sellar Collection, which was sold in Paris at Galerie Georges Petit (8 rue de Seine) on 6 June 1889. The catalogue surmised that the panel, ‘full of vigour and of a sparkling palette’, was a study for Rembrandt’s painting The angel leaving Tobias.
The panel – also known as Study for an angel, c. 1655-1660 – was first attributed to Barent Fabritius and later to Aert de Gelder. See Adolf Rosenberg, Rembrandt. Des Meisters Gemälde in 565 Abbildungen, Stuttgart and Leipzig 1906, pp. 392, 406; and Adolf Rosenberg, Rembrandt. Des Meisters Gemälde in 643 Abbildungen. Stuttgart and Berlin 1908, pp. 543, 566.
An etching made after it – executed by Charles Courtry and published by A. Salmon and Ardail – was included in the Catalogue de tableaux anciens composant l’importante collection de M. Sellar de Londres. Paris 1889, p. 42, cat. no. 57. Letter 797 reveals that Theo sent one to Vincent; this etching is to be found in the estate (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum). Ill. 344 [344] (t*731). Van Gogh made a painting after it: Angel (after ‘Rembrandt’) (F 624 / JH 1778).
The etching mentioned by Theo, in which the same angel figures, is Annunciation to the shepherds, 1634 (B44). (Amsterdam, Rembrandthuis). Cf. Charles Blanc, L’Oeuvre complet de Rembrandt. Paris 1859, vol. 1, pp. 100-104, no. 17. The estate contains a reproduction (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, t*1433). Ill. 374 [374].
[850] [344] [374]
5. At the commemorative exhibition Exposition centennale, held in the Palais du Champs de Mars (Galerie des Beaux-Arts) during the World Exhibition, Corot exhibited 44 paintings (cat. nos. 148-191), Manet 14 (cat. nos. 485-498), Delacroix 21 (cat. nos. 250-270), Millet 13 (cat. nos. 513-525), Ricard 7 (cat. nos. 577–583) and Daumier 5 (cat. nos. 229-233) See exhib. cat. Paris 1889-3, pp. 46-48, 52-54.
6. The painting The bedroom (F 482 / JH 1608 [2735]) was damaged; see letter 765, n. 8.
7. The red vineyard (F 495 / JH 1626 [2745]).
8. Marie Ginoux (‘The Arlésienne’) (F 489 / JH 1625 [2744]).
9. This was the French painter Emile Ferdinand Polack, who painted many Spanish subjects, such as The triumph of the sword, 1889 (Paris, Musée d’Orsay), which was exhibited at the 1889 Salon (no. 2172). See cat. Paris 1990, vol. 2, p. 367. Cf. also FR b1189.
Theo often took people home to his apartment to show them Vincent’s work. On 27 June 1889 Jo van Gogh-Bonger wrote to her family in Amsterdam: ‘this morning I again had to make sure that all the rooms were tidied up very early, because a gentleman came to see Vincent’s paintings!’ (FR b4290).