Portrait of Joseph-Michel Ginoux work of Paul Gauguin on art-Gauguin .com
To Theo van Gogh. Arles, Sunday, 15 July 1888.
My dear Theo,
I thank you very much for your letter and the 100-franc note it contained. Now, I approve of your idea of settling Bing’s account, and I’m sending you back fifty francs for that purpose.
But it seems to me that it would be a mistake to ‘have done’ with Bing — oh no — on the contrary I wouldn’t be astonished if Gauguin, like me, will wish to have some of these Japanese prints here. So do what you think best about paying him the full 90 francs for the stock and then taking more for a full 100 francs.
Or else Bing will replace the merchandise represented by the enclosed 50 francs. But. If it was possible — all the Japanese prints we have at home being beautiful — it would be better to take the whole stock back. We’re getting them so cheaply and we can give pleasure to so many artists with them, we should after all keep what favour we have with père Bing. I went to his place myself 3 times at New Year to pay, when I found the shop closed, probably for stocktaking. Then a month later, before I left, I no longer had the money and I’d also given a good many Japanese prints to Bernard, when I made the exchanges with him.
But take the Hokusais as well then, 300 views of the sacred mountain and scenes of manners and customs.
There’s an attic at Bing’s, and in it there’s a heap of 10 thousand Japanese prints, landscapes, figures, old Japanese prints too.
One Sunday he’ll let you choose for yourself, so take plenty of old sheets too.
He’ll take some from you when he goes through them, but he’ll leave you some. Their manager’s a very decent fellow, as it seemed to me, and good to people who are seriously interested in the subject. I myself don’t understand why you don’t have the fine Japanese prints at boulevard Montmartre. He’ll give you some of the best ones on deposit, I’m sure. But it’s not my business, after all, but our personal stock, that I do value. In any event, make it clear to him that we’re not making anything on it, that we’re putting ourselves to trouble over the deal, that lastly, we’re sometimes responsible for sending people to him.
When I was in Paris I always hoped to have a showroom of my own in a café; you know that that fell through.
The exhibition of Japanese prints that I had at the Tambourin had quite an influence on Anquetin and Bernard, but it was such a disaster. For the 2nd exhibition at the showroom on boul. de Clichy, I have fewer regrets about the time and effort. Bernard having sold his first painting there, Anquetin having sold a study there, and I having made the exchange with Gauguin, we all got something. If Gauguin were willing we could do a Marseille exhibition all the same. But better not rely any more on the people of Marseille than on Paris. But please, keep the Bing stock. The benefit’s too great. As far as money goes, I’ve lost rather than gained on it — fine — but it gave me the opportunity to see a lot of Japanese art, at leisure and over time. And that should last, it seems to me. Your apartment wouldn’t be what it is without the constant presence of Japanese prints.
Now the Japanese prints cost us 3 sous each. For 100 francs, if we pay the 90 francs, besides all of what we have left, we’ll have a new stock of 660 Japanese prints. Or half of them for the 50 francs enclosed.
I hadn’t counted on a 100-franc note among the 50-franc ones this month, knowing that you’re grappling with the Gauguin business and the arrival of our sisters. So I’ll get by somehow this month.
I’m working on some drawings for Bernard so that he’ll send me some of his.
I’ll happily exchange Tanguy’s flowers for a new study, if he’s given up hope of the flowers. The point is that we have hardly any of the flowers left. But his account is as ridiculous as a bill that I would present for my part, in these terms:
portrait of Tanguy---50
,, ,, Mrs Tanguy---50
,, ,, a friend---50
Money Tanguy has made on colours---50
Total 200 francs
Payment of this bill isn’t urgent, but an advance would nevertheless be agreeable to me. So, enough of that. Handshake.
By the way, about this book of Cassagne’s: the difficulty of finding the publisher, always supposing there is one, will soon be over if I tell you that l’a b c d du dessin par A. Cassagne is the text (sold separately, I believe, at a price of 5 francs) of Le dessin pour tous par Cassagne, the 100 instalments with which you’re certainly familiar. Now, it has occurred to me that the book should be from the same publisher as the instalments.
I’ve sent you a roll of drawings. If you went to see Thomas with these, and added the (I believe there are 4 of them) other drawings in the same format, perhaps we’d pick up a few sous from père Thomas if you explain to him the rather exceptional reasons there are at this moment for our wanting to do a deal. Or again, Thomas could buy something from Gauguin if he knows the partnership we have in train.
If you pay for the first stock in full, why don’t we ask 200 francs in commissions instead of less?
Whatever we do, we mustn’t stop holding stock. All my work is based to some extent on Japanese art, and if I’ve said nothing about this to Bing it’s because I think that after my journey in the south I’ll be able to take the subject up again perhaps more seriously. Japanese art, in decline in its own country, is taking new roots among French Impressionist artists. It’s this practical side for artists that necessarily interests me — more than the trade in japonaiseries. However, this trade is all the more interesting because of the direction that French art is tending to take.
Write me a short line to tell me if the drawings reach you in good condition.