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.