Dear mother and sister,
This is the first time that I can bring myself to write after 2 months’ indisposition. Until today I could bring myself neither to read your letters nor to write, and the doctor not being at home I can’t get the letters and a package from you today,1 but meanwhile I don’t want to put off thanking you most heartily for both. I sincerely hope that all is well with you both, and with Anna and Lies too. I wrote to Theo today and sent him several paintings, some of which he’ll probably send you. So I’ve been unable to work just at the best time in the spring, and so things aren’t going too well.
But what is a body to do about it?2 Not every change is for the better, but I’m really longing to get away from here; it’s hard to bear what one endures here.  1v:2
For a few days now I’ve been busy painting a field in the full sunshine with yellow dandelions.3 And while my illness was at its worst, I still painted, among other things a reminiscence of Brabant, cottages with mossy roofs and beech hedges on an autumn evening with a stormy sky, the sun setting red in reddish clouds.4 And a turnip field with women lifting turnips in the snow.5
I’ve asked Theo to send me my old drawings, in so far as he still has them.
Do you still happen to have any of my old studies and drawings?6 Even if they’re no good in themselves, they can refresh my memory and provide information for new work, but I don’t, for instance, need the ones you have hanging up. They’re much more likely to be scratches of peasant figures. But it’s not important enough for you to spend a long time looking for them.  1v:3
I sincerely hope you’re both well, and more soon.
Believe me, I think of you often, and embraced in thought.

Your loving

When I heard that my work was having some success and read that article7 I was immediately afraid that I’d regret it — it’s almost always the case that success is the worst thing that can happen in a painter’s life.


Br. 1990: 865 | CL: 629a
From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Anna van Gogh and Willemien van Gogh
Date: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Tuesday, 29 April 1890

1. Mrs van Gogh and Willemien had sent Vincent a package for his birthday. On 23 March Mrs van Gogh wrote to Theo and Jo: ‘We wrote to him about ten days ago. And now I’m making a tobacco pouch that we want to send with a tin of chocolate and a book from Wil this week around Wednesday or Thursday ... May the 30th of March not be too unhappy for Vincent. Poor fellow, may he see better days’ (FR b2924).
Shortly before receiving the present letter from Vincent, Willemien had expressed her concern in a letter to Theo and Jo, in which she also made an urgent request to be kept informed of Vincent’s condition: ‘Oh, how sad it is about Vincent, I think so often: is there really nothing to be done? But you know that he is well looked after there, and is receiving better care than you could give him. Poor thing. Wouldn’t the Rev. Salles like to pay him another visit? I was afraid things weren’t going well. If you hear anything, you’ll tell me at once, won’t you?’ (FR b2925).
2. For this proverbial saying, see letter 27, n. 10.
3. The garden of the asylum with dandelions and tree-trunks (F 676 / JH 1970 [2899]).
4. Cottages at sunset (‘Reminiscence of Brabant’) (F 673 / JH 1919 [2895]), Cottages at sunset (‘Reminiscence of Brabant’) (F 674 / JH 1920 [2896]) or Cottages at sunset (‘Reminiscence of Brabant’) (F 675 / JH 1921 [2897]).
[2895] [2896] [2897]
a. The word ‘groen’ is a shortened form of ‘groenknol’ (‘stoppelknol’), or turnip – a catch crop raised as cattle fodder after the wheat was harvested.
5. Field with women lifting turnips (F 695 / JH 1923 [2898]).
6. In 1889 Mrs van Gogh and Willemien had moved from Breda to Leiden, but the boxes with Vincent’s things had been left in Breda, in Adrianus Schrauwen’s attic. See letter 626 and exhib. cat. Breda 2003, pp. 11-18.