Vincent van Gogh - Encampment of Gypsies with Caravans 1888

Encampment of Gypsies with Caravans 1888
Encampment of Gypsies with Caravans
Oil on canvas 45.0 x 51.0 cm. Arles: August, 1888
Paris: Musee d'Orsay

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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

To Theo van Gogh. Antwerp, Thursday, 18 February 1886.
My dear Theo,
It’s at the moment when my money has entirely gone — entirely — that I write to you again.
If you can send anything, even if it were five francs, don’t neglect to do it; there are still 10 days in the month and how am I to get through them? For I have absolutely nothing left. Nothing left even at the baker’s. I only know that all these things definitely make me see than I can do nothing other than act as I’ve told you. That’s to say, not postpone going to Paris.
For the rest, you’ll notice in the latest work which you haven’t seen yet that if I give painting something of a rest, I do it very calmly because working with a brush won’t easily elude me.
I’ll also send you the drawings from the plaster casts; this is unfamiliar to me and I’ll get it differently. Like the female torso I finished today, which is much more distinguished in the modelling and less brusque than the first ones, where in spite of myself the figures have something of the peasant or woodcutter about them.
If I hadn’t been ill &c., by the way, I’d have been able to do more here.

What we have to do is go forward very calmly — but no progress can be made with drawing, and yet that’s the most urgent. And I’m quite sure that it will help me at Cormon’s if I spend the interim doing nothing but drawing. Cormon will be like the others in that he won’t have much time, whatever he may be like otherwise. And anyone who wants to go to those fellows for advice must take with them as much prior knowledge as possible. And it’s definitely to be expected that almost all of them who are in his studio will have gone through a great many plaster casts, and that (no matter how free, how liberal the studio may be otherwise) one relies on that quite heavily. So let’s do it sensibly. They have some interest, but not a lot, in studies that one makes outdoors. And the fellows who’ve been in Paris all tell me the same thing. At Cormon’s I’ll have to paint some test or other of a nude figure from life — probably — and the more I have the structure fixed in my mind in advance the better, and the more he’ll be able and willing to tell me.
And furthermore, we’ll see whether we can get on together — I hope so — but if it didn’t work, then we’d know something more definite about it if we’d had that provisional trial for a few months first.
I definitely believe that we can manage and get back on our feet.
But it would be folly if we didn’t discuss it quite coolly and calmly. And we must, both you and I, take care of our health.
And what I’m saying about coming straight to Paris is a saving for you because, what with going back and forth, and starting relatively expensive work in Brabant, we won’t manage with the usual, and in Paris we will. And if it turns out better than expected with the money, so much the better, then we won’t be so hard up and could stock up on painting materials before the summer so that everything doesn’t come at once.
Don’t take it amiss of me if I also calculate what’s possible and impossible for once.
I re-read Bracquemond’s book again, and I find it better each time.
I do realize that you don’t agree with me about coming straight to Paris, otherwise you would already have answered me. And all the same, it’s better that it should happen immediately — I have the opportunity here to consult fellows about it who do really good work, and I’m entirely convinced that this would be the best.
For that matter, it could have happened sooner. Things have been too bad recently and I was too hard up. And so we must put our backs into it.
Don’t worry about it too much, because we won’t fail.
But what I tell you is true — from the time I send this letter off until I receive your reply, which I hope will cross this, I have nothing and it’s fasting time again.
Anyway — we’ll hope that we’ll be together in a while — and that the worst will be over.
Regards, with a handshake.
Yours truly,

I’ve just read Dumas’s Dame aux camelias, it’s very good — do you know it? I don’t trust the people where I live; if you send a letter with money, as you did recently, it’s safer just to register it for that reason.