Paris 9 Feb. 1890

My dear Vincent
You gave us great pleasure with your last letter,1 and fortunately we can see that things are going fairly well as regards your health.
Things are going well at home with us, Jo is nursing the baby and has no lack of milk, and the little one sometimes lies down with his eyes wide open and his fists against his face. Then he has the look of being completely well. He has blue eyes like the baby  1v:2 you painted,2 and fat cheeks. He gives his mother all sorts of trouble, but that seems inevitable and she bears it very well. In a few days from now she’ll be able to get up. This morning Wil left, she gave us a lot of help in the household. She’s a good girl. I was once with her at Degas’s place; he said that she reminded him of several figures from the old Dutch paintings, and made him very much want to go and see the museums in our country.3 He brought out several things to show her, which pleased her greatly. She understood the female nudes very well. One morning, too, we were in the Louvre, where several paintings  1v:3 have been moved. The Vermeer of Delft4 at eye height, Rembrandt’s little Philosophers5 are cleaned a little, which enables one to see them as never before. The Infanta Marguerita6 is in the Salon Carré.7 Anyway, they’ve made a few reorganizations that were really necessary. The doctor who came to Jo said of Wil, she’s really much too good to get married. Nevertheless I’d be really happy if she were. Yesterday Gauguin came to Paris and he asked a lot of questions about you. He has come here to see if he can find a position to do anything at all to earn his living,8 for it seems that De Haan is very hard up too. His family don’t understand at all why he doesn’t remain with them, and as  1r:4 they’re terrible Jews they’re probably thinking that they can force him to come back by cutting off his allowance. De Haan sent me a painting to dispatch to his brother. One can see that he’s trying very hard, it’s pink and orange onions, green apples and an earthenware pot.9 It’s very carefully studied as regards values and influence of tones, one on another. I’d like to see a little more casualness in it, but it’s very carefully studied and kept in quite a bright range of colours. There are three exhibitions here, of the Mirlitons, the Volney circle and the Aquarellistes,10 but there is, so to speak, nothing good in them, it’s as if the men with the power are becoming more and more senile. I hope that your health will continue to be good and that the things that make you worry will disappear.
Warm regards from Jo, be of good heart, and thank you again for your kind letter. Handshake.



Br. 1990: 853 | CL: T28
From: Theo van Gogh
To: Vincent van Gogh
Date: Paris, Sunday, 9 February 1890

1. This was letter 850.
2. Marcelle Roulin (F 441 / JH 1641 [2753]).
3. Theo and Willemien probably visited Degas in his studio at 19 rue Fontaine on 17 January 1890. This, at any rate, is the date recorded in the ledgers of the firm of Boussod, Valadon & Cie for the purchase by Theo of a work by Degas (GRI, Goupil Ledgers).
4. Jan Vermeer of Delft, The lacemaker, c. 1669-1671 (Paris, Musée du Louvre). Ill. 443 [443].
[1711] [1712]
6. Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, The Infanta Margarita, daughter of Philip iv, king of Spain (1651-1673) (Paris, Musée du Louvre). Ill. 439 [439].
7. For the Salon Carré, see letter 567, n. 2. Velázquez’s painting formerly hung in the room containing the La Caze Collection. See Baedeker 1889-1, pp. 128-129.
8. For Gauguin’s plan to go to Tonkin, see letter 840, n. 3.
9. Still life: pot, onions, bread and green apples, 1889-1890 (Pont-Aven, Musée de Pont-Aven). Ill. 915 [915]. The work is signed ‘A mon cher frère MH’. Gauguin painted the same still life from a different angle in Still life with onions, 1889 (W380) (Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek) and Still life with onions, 1889 (no W-no.) (private collection).
Meijer de Haan had two brothers: Samuel and Aron. It is not clear for which brother the still life was intended. In the last years of his life, Meijer must have been on good terms with Aron at least, since his studio was in Aron’s house in Amsterdam. In mid-October 1890 Gauguin wrote to Bernard that De Haan’s problems with his family had not yet been resolved: ‘De Haan is in Paris at the moment to try to sort things out regarding his family, who have been cutting off his allowance for some time!’ (De Haan est à Paris en ce moment pour tâcher de se débrouiller vis-à-vis de sa famille qui lui coupe les vivres depuis quelque temps!). See Gauguin lettres 1946, p. 204.
[915] [949]
10. The exhibitions of the Cercle de l’Union artistique (Cercle des Mirlitons), the Cercle artistique et littéraire de la rue Volney, and well as of the Société d’Aquarellistes français, belonged to the so-called ‘petits Salons’, which were organized in the first months of the year by the artists’ associations. In contrast to the Salon, these were small exhibitions for an aristocratic public, where established artists were given the opportunity to exhibit their ‘informal’, more personal or unfinished works. See Martha Ward, ‘Impressionist installations and private exhibitions’, The Art Bulletin 73 (December 1991), pp. 605-609.
All that is known about the exhibition of the Cercle de l’Union artistique is that it took place in rue Boissy d’Anglais and ran from 3 February to 12 March 1890 (Moniteur des Arts, 7 February 1890, p. 46, column on ‘Expositions ouvertes’).
The exhibition of the Cercle Volney, which was held from 27 January to 24 February 1890, was reviewed in detail in the Moniteur des Arts of 31 January. Of the several dozen artists who took part, Toulouse-Lautrec was one of the most modern.
On display at the twelfth exhibition of Société d’Aquarellistes français (founded in 1879), held at Georges Petit’s at 8 rue de Sèze, were 194 watercolours and drawings by 38 artists, including Albert Besnard and Jean-Georges Vibert. A facsimile of the catalogue appears in G. Dugnat, La Société d’Aquarellistes français 1879-1896: catalogue illustrés des expositions. Dijon 2002, vol. 2 (unpaginated).