Vincent van Gogh - Still Life: French Novels 1888

Still Life: French Novels 1888
Still Life: French Novels
Oil on canvas 53.0 x 73.2 cm. Arles: October, 1888
Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum

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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

To Theo van Gogh. Arles, Thursday, 10 May 1888.
My dear Theo,
For the time being I have to pay my bill, but at the same time it’s stated on the receipt that this payment is only to recover possession of my things, and that the inflated bill will be submitted to the justice of the peace.
But with all that I have practically nothing left, I bought what I need to make a little coffee or broth at home, and two chairs and a table. That means I have just 15 francs left. So I’m asking you to send me some more money no later than when you get back to Paris, in any case.
It’s very annoying, as this business is seriously interfering with my work — and the weather’s beautiful just now.
I regret not having taken this studio sooner. With what those people overcharged me I could already have furnished it.
But I really count on it I’ve now paid my dues to misfortune and it’s better that should come at the beginning than at the end of the expedition.
I feel sure I’ll soon have several new canvases on the easel.

My consignment is packed up and will go off today.
But it’s discouraging to work hard and see your profit going into the hands of people you detest.
And we’ll put an end to that. I’ll make a studio here that will last, and where if need be we can fit another painter in.
Foreigners are exploited here and — for their part, the people around here aren’t wrong — it’s considered a duty to get all you can out of them.
Right out in the country like MacKnight you pay less, but MacKnight is very bored and is working very little so far.
And it’s better to work hard and spend more, if it’s absolutely necessary.
If you put aside what’s best in the consignment — and if you were to think of these paintings as a payment on my part to be deducted from what I owe you — Then the day when, from my side, I would have contributed something like 10 thousand francs in this way, I would feel more at ease. The money already spent in other years should also come back into our hands, in value at least. I’m still far from that. But I feel that nature here has everything you need to make good things. So it would be my fault if I didn’t succeed. In a single year Mauve made and sold watercolours for 6,000 francs, according to what he told me at the time. Ah well, there are strokes of luck of that kind for which I can sense a possibility, even through my present worries.
In this consignment there are the pink orchard on coarse canvas and the horizontal white orchard and the bridge, which, if we keep them, I think could go up in value later, and about fifty paintings of that quality would compensate us in a way for the fact that we’ve had too little luck in the past. So take these three for your collection at home and don’t sell them because later on they’ll be worth 500 each.
And if we had 50 like that put aside, then I’d breathe a bit more easily. Anyway — write to me soon.
Ever yours,