14 July 1890

My dear Vincent,
We’re very pleased that you’re no longer so much under the impression of matters being unresolved as when you were here. Really, the danger isn’t as grave as you believed. If we can all have good health, which may enable us to undertake what, in our heads, is little by little becoming a necessity, all will go well. Disappointments certainly, but we’re not beginners, and we’re  1v:2 like carters who with all the horses’ efforts have almost reached the top of the hill, they do an about-turn and often then, with a new effort, they reach the top.1 If only we were always thinking of that! Today we’re in the middle of packing our trunks to leave tomorrow for Leiden. On Wednesday I’m going from there to Mesdag to talk to him about the Corot,2 then to Antwerp with a painting by Diaz.3
Although the week has now passed, those gentlemen have said nothing as regards what they’re thinking of doing with me.4 Dries, on the contrary, has proved very cowardly, and seems to be dominated by his wife.5 He declared quite openly that all I was doing as regards him was to lure him into the apartment below us so as to have his wife as a sort of maid. I cannot believe that that comes from him. However, I didn’t think  1v:3 that his wife was that mad. It’s the second time he’s withdrawn at the decisive moment, and however you were there when we were talking, and he answered me squarely that I could count on him.6 I can’t understand it except by attributing this hesitation to his wife. Much good may it do him. Enclosed with this letter you’ll receive 50 francs. If I had the good fortune to do business during my travels that would put me even more at ease. Warm regards, old fellow, I’ll probably be back in a week’s time. Warm regards from Jo, and believe me your brother who loves you.



Br. 1990: 905 | CL: T41
From: Theo van Gogh
To: Vincent van Gogh
Date: Paris, Monday, 14 July 1890

1. Theo had previously used the metaphor of horses toiling up a hill (see letter 770).
2. This must refer to Theo’s lucrative sale the previous month of Corot’s Souvenir of Nemi [2319]. Mesdag had let it be known that he wanted to buy more of such works (see letter 894, n. 9).
3. It has not been determined which painting by Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña is referred to here. Theo’s visit to Antwerp took place on 17 July 1890; it is possible that the art dealer Emile Clarembaux acted as a middleman. See FR b2056; Brief happiness 1999, pp. 245, 247, 258.
4. Around 8 July Theo had asked his employers, Léon and Etienne Boussod, for a rise, and they had agreed to give him an answer the following week. His threat to quit if they did not honour his request made little impression on Boussod and Valadon. Theo finally decided to stay with the firm for the time being (see letter 901, n. 5).
Boussod later said about Theo: ‘He has accumulated appalling things by modern painters which are the shame of the firm.’ See Hulsker 1990-1, p. 451.
6. Andries Bonger was also at Theo and Jo’s when Vincent visited them on Sunday, 6 July. ‘It’s the second time’ refers to the fact that Andries had again withdrawn his offer to start up a business with Theo. See Brief happiness 1999, p. 249.
a. Read: ‘à moins de mettre’.