My dear Theo,
Thanks for your letter and for the 150 francs – which I’ve handed to Mr Peyron, asking him again to tell you each month if there have been expenses, yes or no – so that it doesn’t mount up. I must also thank you for a consignment of colours, and finally yesterday evening the canvas1 and the Millet reproductions2 arrived, which I’m very pleased about.
Mr Peyron repeated to me again that there’s considerable improvement and that he’s optimistic– and that he sees no objection at all to my going to Arles in the coming days.
However, melancholy very often overtakes me with great force, and besides, the more my health returns to normal the more my mind is capable of reasoning very coldly, the more to do painting that costs us so much and doesn’t bring in anything, not even the cost of producing them, seems madness to me, a thing completely against reason. Then I feel utterly sad, and the bad thing is that at my age it’s darned difficult to start again with something else.
In the few Dutch papers you added to the Millets – I notice Parisian letters, which I attribute to Isaäcson.3 It’s very subtle, and one deduces that the author is a painful, anxious person of a rare tenderness – a tenderness that makes me think immediately of the Reisebilder of H. Heine.4
No need to tell you that I find what he says about me in a note5 extremely exaggerated, and one more reason why I prefer him not to say anything about me.  1v:2 And in all these articles I find, beside very refined things, something, I don’t know what, that appears sick to me.
He has stayed in Paris a long time6 – I assume he’s wiser than I am, not drinking &c.
But in it, though, I find something like my own Parisian moral fatigue. And I think that within a short time his temperament would faint away from sadness, tired of an idée fixe of seeking good if he continued much longer.
Our sister told me in her last letter that Isaäcson might go to the Transvaal.7 My word, that could be better for him than Paris, but I’ll regret it on our account, for I have lots and lots of fellow-feeling for him, and would greatly desire to make his acquaintance personally. I’m planning to write to him again about his articles, and I’ll give him a portrait of myself as a souvenir.8
I think that this one could have been someone who could have married our sister. That would be better for him than this journalist’s life, and perhaps would get him back on his feet better. For I’m touched by the fact that one feels so much from what he says, that he’s a very suffering and very good person, happy when he can admire.
This morning I began The diggers on a no. 30 canvas.9
Do you know that it might be interesting to try to do Millet’s drawings as paintings, that would be a very special collection of copies,  1v:3 something like the works of Prévost , who copied little-known Goyas and Velázquez for Mr Doria.10
Perhaps I’d be more useful doing that than through my own painting.
Mother wrote to me too with news of Cor.
I worked on a study of the fever ward in the Arles hospital,11 and then having no canvas lately I’ve been taking long walks in all directions across the country – I’m beginning to feel more the wholeness of the countryside in which I live. Later I may also return time and again to the same Provençal subjects.
What you say of Guillaumin is very true,12 he has found a true thing and he’s satisfied with what he’s found without embarking at random on dissimilar things, and that way he remains right and becomes stronger, always with these same very simple subjects. My word, he isn’t wrong, and I like this sincerity he has enormously.
I’m hurrying to finish this letter, I had already begun to write to you four times13 without being able to finish.
Ah, at the moment you yourself are fully in the midst of nature, since you write that Jo already feels her child quicken – it’s much more interesting even than landscape, and I’m very pleased that it has changed like this for you.
How beautiful the Millet is, A child’s first steps!14
Handshake to you, to Isaäcson, my best regards above all to Jo. I’m going to work some more on The diggers, the days are very short. More soon.

Ever yours,


Br. 1990: 817 | CL: 611
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, on or about Friday, 25 October 1889

1. This was the order placed for canvas in letter 808. Theo’s account book records under ‘Rekening Vincent’ (Account Vincent) in October 1889 a payment of 108 francs to Tasset & Lhote. See Account book 2002, p. 44.
2. Van Gogh had asked for reproductions of Millet’s The two diggers [1876], The sower [1888], Winter: The plain of Chailly [1892] and The four times of the day [1679] [1680] [1681] [1682]. See letter 805, nn. 7-10. It emerges from the following letters that Theo had already sent these prints.
[1876] [1888] [1892] [1679]
3. For Isaäcson’s ‘Parijsche brieven’ (Paris letters), see letter 807, n. 2. Van Gogh is referring to the article ‘Gevoelens over de Nederlandsche kunst op de Parijsche Wereld-tentoonstelling. ii’ (Feelings about the Dutch art at the Paris World Exhibition. ii), which dates from 17 August 1889, pp. 248-249. Theo mentioned the article in a letter sent to his mother and sister in Breda, and Willemien attempted to obtain a copy of the magazine, as emerges from her letter of 13 September 1889 to Theo and Jo (FR b2931).
4. Heinrich Heine’s Reisebilder (1826 and 1831-1834) is a collection of travel accounts characterised by a sometimes ironical or critical tone but also betraying a romantic spirit.
5. Isaäcson wrote: ‘Who interprets for us in forms and colours the formidable life, the grand nineteenth-century life regaining its awareness? Where is the man who again renders our realm, our earth, our heritage; who again makes us happy by demonstrating the divine in matter; who again makes us look at life, the tangible, outpouring, blood-inspired, wild-hunting life, and also that other life that is actually one with ours, that of wood, of stone, of marble, of gold, of tin, zinc, pewter, iron, and also of water, of fire...... where is the inspirator who shows us that?..... I know of one, a single pioneer; he wrestles alone in the grand night; his name, Vincent, is for posterity’. The accompanying note reads: ‘Of this remarkable hero – it is a Dutchman – I hope to be able to tell you something later’ (p. 248).
6. Isaäcson had travelled with De Haan to Paris around 30 August 1888, which is the date De Haan’s name was recorded in the municipal register of Amsterdam as no longer resident there, with a note of Paris as his destination. Isaäcson was back in Amsterdam on 27 November 1889 (FR b1901).
7. For Isaäcson’s plans to go to the Transvaal, see letter 811, n. 2.
8. Van Gogh’s Self-portrait (F 626 / JH 1770 [2826]) later came into the possession of Isaäcson.
9. Diggers (after Millet) (F 648 / JH 1833 [2856]). For the print, The two diggers [1876], see letter 805, n. 7.
[2856] [1876]
10. Van Gogh is referring to the painter Charles Eugène Prévost and the collector Count Armand Doria. The latter amassed in his Chateau d’Orrouy at Crépy-en-Valois (Oise) an extensive collection of art, which was sold in May 1899 at Georges Petit in Paris. The auction catalogue makes no mention of copies by Prévost after Goya and Velázquez. See Collection M. le comte Armand Doria. 2 vols. Paris 1899.
11. Ward in the hospital (F 646 / JH 1686 [2782]).
12. Theo had praised Guillaumin’s work in letter 813.
13. It is possible that Van Gogh wrote ‘l’écrire’ instead of ‘t’écrire’.
14. Theo had sent Vincent a photograph of Millet’s drawing The first steps (Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, t*51). Ill. 286 [286]. In January 1890 Van Gogh made a painting after it, The first steps (after Millet) (F 668 / JH 1883 [2886]). The photograph displays the grid lines applied by Van Gogh to guide him in transferring the representation to the canvas.
[286] [2886]