From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA:
Of the five versions of Van Gogh’s portrait of Augustine Roulin, wife of his friend the postmaster of Arles, the present canvas is the one the sitter chose for herself. Van Gogh remarked that "she had a good eye and took the best." He began the portraits just before his breakdown in Arles, in December 1888, and completed them in early 1889, calling them "La Berceuse," meaning "lullaby, or woman who rocks the cradle," indicated by the rope held in the sitter’s hand, which is attached to the unseen cradle.
To Theo van Gogh. Arles, Tuesday, 24 or Wednesday, 25 July 1888.
My dear Theo,
I’m sending you Gauguin’s letter enclosed herewith; fortunately he’s regaining his health.
How is yours?
I’d very much like it if Russell were to do something — however, he has a wife, children, a studio, a house under construction, and I can very well imagine that even a rich man may not always be able to spend 100 francs — were it only that — on paintings.
I believe that it would make an enormous difference to me if Gauguin was here, because the days pass now without saying a word to anyone. Ah, well. In any case, his letter gave me tremendous pleasure.
Being too long alone in the country you become dull-witted, and not just yet — but this winter, I could become sterile from that. Now this danger will no longer exist if he comes, because we won’t be short of ideas.
If work goes well and if we don’t lack guts, there’s the hope of seeing very interesting years in the future. Is Mourier still with you?
Would it be possible for me to have your letter on Sunday? I’m not counting on it, though, knowing that it’s the end of the month.
It’s just that I’ll probably have a model this week.
I have a really great need for some studies of figures. At the moment I have something like an exhibition at my place, in the sense that I’ve taken all the studies off the stretching frames and have nailed them to the wall to finish drying. You’ll see that when there’s a large number of them, and we make a choice among them, it will come to the same thing as if I’d studied them more and worked on them longer. Because to do a subject over and over again on the same canvas or on several canvases comes, in short, to the same degree of seriousness. I’m somewhat rushed, so handshake and