Vincent van Gogh - Head of an Old Woman with White Cap. The Midwife 1885

Head of an Old Woman with White Cap. The Midwife 1885
Head of an Old Woman with White Cap. The Midwife
Oil on canvas 50.0 x 40.0 cm. Antwerp: December, 1885
Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum

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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

To Theo van Gogh. The Hague, Friday, 9 June 1882.
My dear Theo,
Few things have given me so much pleasure recently as hearing reports from home just now that greatly reassure me as to their mood.
Sien came to tell me that a package had arrived at my studio and I asked her to go and open it and see what was inside, and if there was a letter to bring it with her. That’s how I know that they’ve sent a whole package with all sorts of clothing, over- and underclothes, and cigars, and 10 guilders were enclosed with the letter.
I can’t tell you how it affected me, especially now — it’s better than I expected — but they still don’t know about one thing and another. Yet I’m greatly reassured.
I’m weak and faint, Theo, and I absolutely, absolutely must have rest if I’m to get better, so I welcome everything that means peace.
But before I lay here I was worse than now, and the main thing you should know now is that it isn’t bad, and only a short period of treatment here will be needed to get me back on my feet. I wanted to let you know about Pa and Ma right away because I thought it would please you too.
Sien will probably leave next Monday, for I believe that there’s no better place for her than in a hospital now, and she can be admitted around mid-June. But now she wanted to stay for my sake, but I don’t want that.
I have my perspective books here and a few volumes of Dickens, including Edwin Drood. There’s perspective in Dickens too. By Jove, what an artist. There’s no one to match him.
I hope that lying still for a little may have a good influence on my drawing, because sometimes you see things better when you aren’t able to work on them for a while, and everything seems new and fresh, so to speak, when you come back to it later. The view from the window of the ward is splendid to me: wharves, the canal with potato barges, the backs of houses being demolished, with workers, a bit of garden and in the next, more distant plane the quay with the row of trees and lamp-posts, a complicated court with its gardens, and also all the roofs, all seen in a bird’s-eye view, but made mysterious in the evening and morning above all by the light effect like, for example, a Ruisdael or Vermeer.
But I’m not allowed to draw it, and couldn’t anyway as long as I’m so weak. But despite not being allowed to get out of bed, in the evening I can’t resist going over to look at it.
Write to me soon. It was so kind of home and gave me so much pleasure, especially now.
The rest is doing me so much good and making me much calmer and taking away the nervousness I’ve suffered from so much recently. And here in the ward it’s no less fascinating for me than the 3rd-class waiting room. But I may not and cannot draw just yet.
Adieu, I hope you’ll write to me. Believe me
Ever yours,

I thought it was so nice that this came from home, especially now, that I wanted to write to you directly. Also, needless to say, I don’t need any more clothes now. I’ve written home to thank them and to tell them I was here.
You know the address is

4th Class
Ward 6, No. 9.