Vincent van Gogh - Seascape at Saintes-Maries 1888

Seascape at Saintes-Maries 1888
Seascape at Saintes-Maries
Oil on canvas 51.0 x 64.0 cm. Arles: early June, 1888
Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum

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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

To Theo van Gogh. Nuenen, between about Friday, 21 and about Wednesday, 26 August 1885
My dear Theo,
I received your letter and 20 francs enclosed in good order, and thank you for them. Now I can inform you that I’ve sent my crate to Leurs with 7 different things and, to make it more complete, another 12 smaller painted studies. I’ve also written to tell Wisselingh that I’ve sent this batch and asked him to go and see them. I’m still sorry that this batch didn’t go to you instead, though. If we’d paid off Leurs and you’d taken this batch and then, if you were getting too many of the same kind, we had picked out this and that from the different batches to try in Holland, then the ones that still remained with you would, to my mind, have been the best and a nucleus to gradually expand as we progressed. As you say, though, it’s no use crying over spilt milk. Now as a provisional answer to what you write about drawings of figures in their surroundings, I sent a few off today. I doubt whether they’re suitable for framing purposes — and if I have a bit of luck in finding something better in the fields, I’ll see about adding a few new ones very soon.
As to what you write about being convinced that the economizing hasn’t gone far enough yet, you may be seeing this in your ledger, if the outgoings are greater than the income. Possibly so. But the reason???
Well yes — the people at home — old chap, you can’t carry on as you’re doing now. I’m suffering because of it — I can assure you of that — but if need be I’m prepared to accept that I’m even poorer than in other years because of it. But are they any happier for it at home, and is it making them any better off — — — the consequences later on, for them and for you, will you be happy about them?

Truly — when I think back to my own experience, when I consider that several years at G&Cie ended by my feeling very strongly drawn towards home, when I think how a crisis ensued for me, bewildering, and in which I so very soon stood entirely alone, and everything and everyone I had previously thought would endure, changed, and none of it stood fast.
When I think back to those sad times, I’m so very much afraid that the present situation won’t prove to be firm ground under your feet.
And so I feel compelled — not in reproach, not to frighten you, not to dishearten you, but as a piece of harsh truth — to tell you that my view is that the sun can set for you — indeed — is setting. That what I add — renew yourself, but seek this renewal in the heart of the profession: painting, and dealing too, but in our own things — is proof enough that I don’t mean it reproachfully or insultingly. I speak as having known strife myself and as being in the middle of my battle. Anyway. With every year that one gets on in life, the time seems to go faster, more happens things pick up speed. The fact that I say it straight out is so that you know that, should something change for you, I’d find it a natural, very understandable matter and, far from reproaching you for it, would simply suggest doing more together and not allowing either one of us to be overwhelmed. Both, on the contrary, to show that we have vigour and energy — and a love of art of a sound, serious standard.
In my case I always have to contend with quite serious obstacles, far from being prosperous. Very well — but the more unfavourable the outward becomes, the more the inward, that is the passion for the work, increases. And — even if they aren’t new resources, new — renewed — opportunities — do still open up. Anyway.
As I said, I added a couple of new ones to this small batch of drawings, but this month I’ll try to make several the size of that woman shelling peas, which was the last one I made. Regards.
Yours truly,

Don’t take it amiss of me that I’m sticking primarily with the figures, even though it’s the most expensive. The more difficult times were to get, the more I’d seek to master precisely that. For one can foresee that if the enthusiasm to buy doesn’t pick up, the people who do still buy will set higher standards, and then the peasant figure is something that still has a real chance of lasting.
And as regards The Hague — I consider it possible that some people whom I know and who are now against me, could be persuaded. And although it may have to take a long time, I shan’t give up easily as yet, that I can assure you.
The Ingres is very good to draw on — and I’m pleased with these sketchbooks.
I’ve held on to the book by Bracquemond because at the first reading I didn’t understand what he’s saying about warm and cool, but I think he’s saying something important about light.
This is what I must get to the bottom of and should re-read. The other chapters are also important, and his definitions well thought out.