Paris, 29 March 1890

My dear Vincent,
How pleased I would be to be able to go and see you tomorrow to shake your hand on your birthday.1 Will it be a celebration for you, or are you still in a state where you find yourself unhappy? What do you do during the day, and have you something to do to distract yourself? Can you read, and do you have what you need? I was hoping  1v:2 after your last letter2 that you had begun to convalesce, and that soon afterwards you would have written that you were feeling better. My dear brother, how sad it is to be so far from one another and to know so little of what the other is doing. That’s why I’m very happy to be able to tell you that I’ve met Dr Gachet. That doctor Pissarro had spoken to me about. He looks like a man who understands things well. He resembles you a little. When you come here we’ll go and see him, he comes to give consultations in Paris several times a week.3 He said to me when I told him how your crises occurred that he didn’t believe that this had anything to do with madness  1v:3 and that if it was what he thought, he replied that he would cure you, but he needed to see you and talk to you to be able to give his opinion with greater certainty. He’s a man who can be very useful to us if you come here. Have you spoken to Dr Peyron about it yet, and what does he say about it? I haven’t yet gone back to the Independents, but Pissarro who went there every day tells me that you have a real success among the artists. There are also art lovers who spoke to me about it before I’d pointed them out to them. The newspapers which give an account of the exhibition are silent on the Impressionists’ hall.4 That’s still the best they can do, for the majority of these critics, you know very well what they’re worth. The weather here is beginning  1r:4 to be really springlike. This afternoon Jo and the child were in the little square in front of the Trinity.5 The shrubs are beginning to become green and the trees are showing green points on the buds, everything was bathed in benevolent sunshine, and the grey of the church against the intense blue of the sky was really beautiful.
Jo and the child are doing well. From time to time there is of course something amiss, but nothing serious. The doctor who came this week said that he was a magnificent child, and paid Jo compliments. You’ll see how funny his movements are. My dear brother, I have a very great desire to hear if you’re feeling better and to have details about your health. Be of good heart, and remain hopeful that things will get better soon.
I’m sending you a few reproductions of etchings by Rembrandt,6 they’re so beautiful. Good handshake, and believe me your brother who loves you,



Br. 1990: 861 | CL: T31
From: Theo van Gogh
To: Vincent van Gogh
Date: Paris, Saturday, 29 March 1890

1. Vincent turned 37.
2. This was letter 857.
3. Dr Gachet had kept his practice in Paris when he moved to Auvers. His office was located at 78 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis.
4. In the Netherlands, an anonymous article did discuss Van Gogh’s work, as well as Theo’s role as a champion of modern artists. The Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant of Friday, 4 April 1890 included an enthusiastic article on the exhibition:
‘One of the exhibitors at this gathering is a Dutchman, Mr Vincent van Gogh, who is celebrated by the true devotees of the new light as the best among their adepts, and who deserves this honour in many respects. He does not dot his landscapes, but paints them with facets approximately the size of a segment of a finger.
If one stands up close, one doesn’t know what one sees; one is confronted with inexplicable chaos. But if one moves some distance away, one must admire the bold and original idea; then trees and paving stones and clouds take on shapes that one hadn’t understood at first glance and hadn’t discovered. This style of painting is indeed the last word in oddness.
But there is something in it, that is certain. One may call the means coarse and unpolished, but the painter would not boast about putting on white kid gloves. Mr van Gogh, the art buyer in boulevard Montmartre, the brother of this painter, is ever on the look-out for these innovators of painting, and it is mainly owing to his tireless efforts that justice is done to such painters as Monet and Raffaëlli and Pissarro ... and that they find acceptance among the public, who are starting to buy their work more and more.’
This was written by Adrien Louis Herman Obreen, with whom Theo had been in touch in July 1890 in any case. The article was sent to Theo from the Netherlands (See FR b2864, b2862, and b928; Brief happiness 1999, p. 253, and letter 862, n. 2).
5. The Church of the Trinity is on the square d’Estienne d’Orves, near Theo and Jo’s apartment in the cité Pigalle.
6. On 29 March 1890 Theo recorded in his account book: ‘Etchings by Rembrandt Vincent 9.20 [francs]’. See Account book 2002, pp. 37, 155. The reproductions in question can be gleaned from letter 865.