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.