My dear Theo,
I thank Jo very much for writing to me,1 and knowing that you wish me to write you a line I’m letting you know that it’s very difficult for me to write, so disturbed is my mind.2 So I’m taking advantage of an interval.
Dr Peyron is really kind to me and really patient. You can imagine that I’m very deeply distressed that the attacks have recurred when I was already beginning to hope that it wouldn’t recur.
You’ll perhaps do well to write a line to Dr Peyron to say that working on my paintings is quite necessary to me for my recovery.
For these days, without anything to do and without being able to go into the room he had allocated me for doing my painting, are almost intolerable to me.  1v:2
I’ve received catalogue of the Gauguin, Bernard, Schuffenecker &c. exhibition, which I find interesting.3 G. also wrote me a kind letter, still a little vague and obscure, but anyway I must say that I think they’re quite right to have exhibited among themselves.
For many days I’ve been absolutely distraught, as in Arles,4 just as much if not worse, and it’s to be presumed that these crises will recur in the future, it is ABOMINABLE. I haven’t been able to eat for 4 days, as my throat is swollen. It’s not in order to complain too much, I hope, if I tell you these details, but to prove to you that I’m not yet in a fit state to go to Paris or to Pont-Aven unless it were to Charenton.5  1v:3
It appears that I pick up filthy things and eat them, although my memories of these bad moments are vague, and it appears to me that there’s something shady about it, still for the same reason that they have I don’t know what prejudice against painters here.6
I no longer see any possibility for courage or good hope, but anyway it wasn’t yesterday that we found out that this profession isn’t a happy one.
All the same it gives me pleasure that you’ve received that consignment from here, the landscapes.7 Thank you above all for that etching after Rembrandt.8 It’s surprising, and yet it makes me think again of the man with the staff in the La Caze gallery.9 If you want to do me a very, very great pleasure, then  1r:4 send a copy of it to Gauguin. Then the Rodin and Claude Monet brochure is really interesting.10
This new crisis, my dear brother, came upon me in the fields, and when I was in the middle of painting on a windy day. I’ll send you the canvas, which I nevertheless finished.11 And it was precisely a more sober attempt, matt in colour without looking impressive, broken greens, reds and rusty ochre yellows, as I told you that from time to time I felt a desire to begin again with a palette like the one in the north.
I’ll send you that canvas as soon as I can. Good-day, thank you for all your kindnesses, good handshake to you and to Jo, and naturally to Cor if he’s still there.12


Mother and Wil have also written me a very nice letter.

Whilst not liking Rod’s book excessively, I’ve nevertheless done a canvas of that passage in which he speaks of the darkish mountains and huts.13

(Our friend Roulin has written to me too.)14


Br. 1990: 798 | CL: 601
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Thursday, 22 August 1889

1. This was letter 795.
2. Theo wrote about this to Willemien: ‘The news from Vincent is very bad these last few days, or rather for about two weeks we had nothing but a single letter from the doctor. He appears to have been thoroughly ill again. Fortunately yesterday a letter from himself again in which he has high praise for his treatment and the doctor, but he feels dreadfully how awful it is not to be on sure ground’ (FR b924, 24 August 1889).
3. This was the Catalogue de l’exposition de peintures du groupe impressionniste et synthétiste (see exhib. cat. Paris 1889-5).
4. Regarding Van Gogh’s previous attacks, see letter 750, n. 4.
5. In the town of Charenton-Saint-Maurice (now Saint-Maurice, Val-de-Marne) there was a well-known mental institution. Van Gogh mentions it again in letters 834 and 863.
6. Van Gogh not only ate filthy things he picked up from the ground but also tried to poison himself by eating paint and drinking turpentine, as emerges from the ‘monthly notes’ recorded by Dr Peyron in the admissions register of Saint-Rémy. (See Le grand registre de l’asile de Saint-Rémy in Documentation, 8 May 1889.) This was probably why he was not allowed to go to his studio. Van Gogh had previously written about the Provençal people’s prejudice against painters (see letter 747, n. 4).
7. Theo had thanked Vincent for the consignment in letter 793. On 23 August 1889 Jo wrote to Willemien: ‘How can it be, Wil, that of all the paintings I see at Theo’s, including so many that I find very strange indeed, it is always Vincent’s that I understand the best and find beautiful? ... Oh, if only he weren’t so far away, like this one can’t do anything for him!’ (FR b944, 23 August 1889).
8. Theo must have sent Vincent the etching by Courtry after The archangel Raphael [344] (then attributed to Rembrandt); see letter 781, n. 4.
9. For the portrait Young man with a walking stick [2159] (no longer attributed to Rembrandt), see letter 536, n. 9.
10. Theo had sent Vincent the catalogue of the exhibition of works by Rodin and Monet at Georges Petit’s. The catalogue contained the articles ‘Claude Monet’ by Octave Mirbeau and ‘Auguste Rodin’ by Gustave Geffroy. See exhib. cat. Paris 1889-6. The article on Monet is mentioned again in the following letter; see letter 798. It is a revised and expanded version (concentrating on the exhibition) of Mirbeau’s contribution in Le Figaro; see letter 754. Geffroy’s article offers an overview of the life and work of Rodin – at first a controversial artist who in 1877 was even accused of ‘moulage sur nature’ (making a cast of the body), but since revered as one of the greatest sculptors of his time. Geffroy has particular praise for the emotions expressed by Rodin’s statues and the way in which he plumbs the depths of his models’ personalities.
11. Letter 805 reveals that this was Entrance to a quarry (F 744 / JH 1802 [2852]).
a. Read: ‘justement’.
12. Cor had been staying with Theo and Jo in Paris (see letter 795).
13. Regarding Rod’s Le sens de la vie, see letter 783, n. 5. Van Gogh is referring to the passage in which Rod describes the huts of the mountain dwellers: ‘their wooden huts are small and dark, meagre shelters against the terrible cold of their winters, heated by enormous, stiflingly hot stoves made of stone, pierced only by narrow windows through which barely pass thin rays of light and faint breaths of air’ (leurs chalets de bois sont petits et noirs, minces abris contre les froids terribles de leurs hivers, chauffés par d’énormes poêles en pierre étouffants, troués seulement d’étroites fenêtres où filtrent à peine de minces rayons de lumière et des filets d’air). See Le sens de la vie, book 3 (‘Altruisme’), chapter 5 (‘A la montagne’). Paris 1889, p. 223. The painting in question is The Alpilles with a hut (F 622 / JH 1766 [2823]).
14. Roulin’s letter is letter 796.