My dear Theo,
I haven’t been able to write to you until now, but as I’m feeling a little better these days I didn’t want to delay wishing a happy year to you, your wife and your child, since it’s your birthday.1 At the same time, please accept the various paintings I’m sending you2 with my thanks for all the kindnesses you’ve shown me, for without you I would be most unhappy.
You’ll see that first there are canvases after Millet.3 As these aren’t destined for public viewing, perhaps you’ll make a present of them to our sisters sooner or later.4 But first you must keep the ones you consider good, and as many as you wish, they’re absolutely yours. One of these days you must send me some other things by ancient and modern artists to do, if you find any.
The rest of the canvases are meagre, I’m very much behind, not having been able to work for two months. You’ll find that the olive trees with the pink sky are the best,5 with the mountains,6 I would imagine; the first go well as a pendant to those with the yellow sky.7 As regards the portrait of the Arlésienne, you know that I’ve promised our friend Gauguin one, and you must see that he gets it.8 Then the cypresses are for Mr Aurier.9 I would have liked to redo them with a little less impasto, but I don’t have the time.
Anyway, they must be washed again several times in cold water, then a strong varnish when the impasto is dry right through, then the blacks won’t get dirty when the oil has fully evaporated. Now I would necessarily need colours, part of which you could well get from Tanguy’s if he’s hard up, or if that would please him. But of course he mustn’t be dearer than the other.
Here’s the list of colours I would need

12 zinc white, 3 cobalt, 5 Veronese green
1 ordinary lake
2 emerald green, 4 chrome 1, 2 chrome 2
1 orange lead, 2 ultramarine

Then (but from Tasset’s) 2 geranium lake, medium-sized tubes.
You would do me a service by sending me at least half of it at once, at once, for I’ve lost too much time.
Then I would need 6 brushes [sketch A]
6 fitch brushes10 [sketch B]
around these sizes, and 7 metres of canvas, or even 10.
What can I tell you of these two last months, things aren’t going well at all, I’m more sad and bored than I could tell you, and I no longer know what point I’m at.
As the order for colours is a little large, let me wait for half if that suits you better.
While I was ill I nevertheless still did a few small canvases from memory which you’ll see later, reminiscences of the north,11 and now I’ve just finished a sunlit corner of a meadow which I think is fairly vigorous.12 You’ll see it soon.
As Mr Peyron is away I haven’t yet read your letters, but I know that some have come. He has been quite kind in informing you of the situation,13 as for me I don’t know what to do or think. But I have a great desire to leave this place. That won’t surprise you, I don’t need to tell you any more about it.  1v:3
Letters have also come from home, which I haven’t yet had the courage to read, so melancholy do I feel.
Please ask Mr Aurier not to write any more articles about my painting,14 tell him earnestly that first he is wrong about me, then that really I feel too damaged by grief to be able to face up to publicity. Making paintings distracts me – but if I hear talk of them that pains me more than he knows. How is Bernard? Since there are duplicates of some canvases, if you want you could do an exchange with him, because a good-quality canvas of his would look well in your collection. I fell ill at the time I was doing the almond-tree blossoms.15 If I’d been able to continue working, you can judge from that that I would have done others of the trees in blossom. Now the trees in blossom are almost finished, really I have no luck. Yes, I must try to leave here, but where am I to go? I don’t believe one can be more shut up and imprisoned in the places where they don’t pretend to leave you free, such as at Charenton or Montevergues.
If you write home, give them my warm regards and tell them I think of them often.
Then good handshake to you and Jo. Believe me

Ever yours,

Please send me what you can find of figures among my old drawings, I’m thinking of redoing the painting of the peasants eating supper, lamplight effect.16 That canvas must be completely dark now,17 perhaps I could redo it entirely from memory. You must above all send me the women gleaning and diggers,18 if there are any left.
Then if you like I’ll redo the old tower at Nuenen19 and the cottage.20 I think that if you still have them I could now make something better of them from memory.


Br. 1990: 864 | CL: 629
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Tuesday, 29 April 1890

1. Theo turned 33 on 1 May. Vincent had been withdrawn for a long time. On 27 April 1890, Theo wrote to Mien Bonger, Jo’s sister: ‘The poor fellow is still ill. The doctor recently wrote that for weeks now he’s been sitting with his head in his hands and if one speaks to him, he makes signs that he wants to be alone. Isn’t it terrible?’ (FR b4305).
2. This last (seventh) consignment from Saint-Rémy contained, in addition to the works mentioned by Van Gogh (see nn. 3-8), the following works, listed by Theo when he confirmed receipt of the consignment in letter 867: Charles-Elzéard Trabuc (F 629 / JH 1774 [2829]), Portrait of a one-eyed man (F 532 / JH 1650 [2760]) and Almond blossom (F 671 / JH 1891 [2890]). Van Gogh must also have sent at this time Olive grove with two olive pickers (F 587 / JH 1853 [2867]) and Road-menders in a lane with massive plane trees (F 658 / JH 1861 [2873]), which he had withheld from the previous consignment (see letter 834).
[2829] [2760] [2890] [2867] [2873]
3. The paintings after prints by Millet, Diggers (after Millet) (F 648 / JH 1833 [2856]) and Evening (after Millet) (F 647 /JH 1834 [2857]), had been in the previous batch of paintings sent to Theo (see letter 834). Vincent probably sent at this time the rest of the Millet copies, i.e. The end of the day (after Millet) (F 649 / JH 1835 [2858]), Morning: going out to work (after Millet) (F 684 / JH 1880 [2883]), Noon: rest (after Millet) (F 686 / JH 1881 [2884]), Reaper (after Millet) (F 687 / JH 1782 [2834]), Reaper with a scythe (after Millet) (F 688 / JH 1783 [2835]), Woman binding sheaves (after Millet) (F 700 / JH 1781 [2833]), Woman with a rake (after Millet) (F 698 / JH 1789 [2841]), Sheaf binder (after Millet) (F 693 / JH 1785 [2837]), Woman bruising flax (after Millet) (F 697 / JH 1788 [2840]), Thresher (after Millet) (F 692 / JH 1784 [2836]), Sheepshearers (after Millet) (F 634 / JH 1787 [2839]), Woman spinning (after Millet) (F 696 / JH 1786 [2838]), Woodcutter (after Millet) (F 670 / JH 1886 [2889]), Snow-covered field with a plough and harrow (after Millet) (F 632 / JH 1882 [2885]), The first steps (after Millet) (F 668 / JH 1883 [2886]), Sower (after Millet) (F 690 / JH 1837 [2860]) and Sower (after Millet) (F 689 / JH 1836 [2859]).
[2856] [2857] [2858] [2883] [2884] [2834] [2835] [2833] [2841] [2837] [2840] [2836] [2839] [2838] [2889] [2885] [2886] [2860] [2859]
4. Only Vincent’s elder sister Anna received at some point a copy after Millet: Woman spinning (after Millet) (F 696 / JH 1786 [2838]).
5. Van Gogh had two paintings of ‘olive trees with a pink sky’: Women picking olives (F 656 / JH 1870 [2880]) and Women picking olives (F 654 / JH 1868 [2878]). Considering that both were intended for Theo, he must have sent both of them. The third version, intended for his mother and Willemien, had already been sent to Theo (see letter 834).
[2880] [2878]
6. ‘The mountains’ must refer to Ravine (F 661 / JH 1871 [2881]). It emerges from letter 865 that he included it in this consignment.
7. Olive trees (F 710 / JH 1856 [2870]).
8. Van Gogh had four versions of Marie Ginoux (‘The Arlésienne’); the fifth had been lost during his visit to Arles (see letter 857, n. 1). He must have sent at least three to Theo, because letter 877 reveals that in Auvers he still had one himself (though he could have taken it along from Paris). Theo kept the portrait of the Arlésienne in pink clothing (F 543 / JH 1895 [2894]); see letters 877 and 879. F 541 / JH 1893 [2892] came into the possession of Albert Aurier, presumably as a present from Vincent or Theo. See cat. Otterlo 2003, pp. 341-343. That Gauguin did in fact receive a version of the Arlésienne emerges from RM23 and the correspondence between Gauguin and Jo van Gogh-Bonger from March-May 1894. See Gauguin lettres 1983, pp. 330-341 (GAC 43-45). Provenance research has shown that Gauguin received F 542 / JH 1894 [2893], and that F 540 / JH 1892 [2891] came into the possession of Bernard. See Feilchenfeldt 2005, pp. 118-119.
[2894] [2892] [2893] [2891]
9. Read: ‘Aurier’. The work in question is Cypresses (F 620 / JH 1748 [2809]). Cf. cat. Otterlo 2003, pp. 296-300.
10. A fitch brush is a thin brush used for very fine brushwork.
11. In letter 864 Van Gogh describes a ‘reminiscence of Brabant’ with cottages with mossy roofs. Given the subject and the format, ‘reminiscences of the north’ must refer here to Cottages at sunset (‘Reminiscence of Brabant’) (F 675 / JH 1921 [2897], 29 x 36.5 cm), Cottages at sunset (‘Reminiscence of Brabant’) (F 673 / JH 1919 [2895], 45.5 x 43 cm), and Cottages at sunset (‘Reminiscence of Brabant’) (F 674 / JH 1920 [2896], 50 x 39 cm). Field with women lifting turnips (F 695 / JH 1923 [2898]), measuring 50 x 64 cm, is a bit bigger than the above-mentioned works; moreover, Van Gogh’s description of it in letter 864 implies that it was not a ‘reminiscence of the north’. This presumably holds true for the smaller Diggers (F 694 / JH 1922), the subject of which is similar to that of F 695.
[2897] [2895] [2896] [2898]
12. This was The garden of the asylum with dandelions and tree-trunks (F 676 / JH 1970 [2899]), which Van Gogh describes in more detail in letter 864.
13. For Peyron’s letter to Theo, see letter 862, n. 2.
15. Almond blossom (F 671 / JH 1891 [2890]).
a. Read: ‘puisse’.
16. The potato eaters (F 82 / JH 764 [2510]).
17. Regarding the discoloration of The potato eaters [2510], see exhib. cat. Amsterdam 1993, p. 54.
18. This refers to drawings of gleaners and diggers from Nuenen, which Van Gogh had taken with him to Paris.
19. The old church tower at Nuenen (‘The peasants’ churchyard’) (F 84 / JH 772 [2512]).
20. The cottage (F 83 / JH 777 [2513]).