Vincent van Gogh - Railway Carriages 1888

Railway Carriages 1888
Railway Carriages
Oil on canvas 45.0 x 50.0 cm. Arles: August, 1888
Avignon, France: Fondation Angladon-Dubrujeaud

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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

To Theo van Gogh. Paris, between about Saturday, 23 and about Monday, 25 July 1887.
My dear friend,
I thank you for your letter and for what it contained.
I feel sad that even if successful, painting won’t bring in what it costs.
I was touched by what you wrote about home – ‘they’re doing quite well, but it’s sad to see them nevertheless’. But a dozen years ago or so one would have sworn that the family would continue to prosper after all, and that things would work out well. It would please our mother greatly if your marriage came off, and for your health and business affairs you shouldn’t remain single anyway.
Myself — I feel I’m losing the desire for marriage and children, and at times I’m quite melancholy to be like that at 35 when I ought to feel quite differently. And sometimes I blame this damned painting.
It was Richepin who said somewhere the love of art makes us lose real love.
I find that terribly true, but on the other hand real love puts you right off art.
And sometimes I already feel old and broken, but still sufficiently in love to stop me being enthusiastic about painting.
To succeed you have to have ambition, and ambition seems absurd to me. I don’t know what will come of it. Most of all, I’d like to be less of a burden to you — and that’s not impossible from now on. Because I hope to make progress in such a way that you’ll be able to show what I’m doing, with confidence, without compromising yourself.
And then I’m going to retreat to somewhere in the south so as not to see so many painters who repel me as men.

You can be sure of one thing, and that’s that I won’t try to do any more work for the Tambourin. I think it’s going to change hands, too, and of course I’m not against that. As far as Miss Segatori is concerned, that’s another matter altogether, I still feel affection for her and I hope she still feels some for me.
But now she’s in an awkward position, she’s neither free nor mistress in her own house, and most of all, she’s sick and ill. Although I wouldn’t say so in public — I’m personally convinced she’s had an abortion (unless of course she had a miscarriage) — whatever the case, in her situation I wouldn’t blame her.
In two months she’ll be better, I hope, and then perhaps she’ll be grateful that I didn’t bother her.
Mind you, if she were to refuse in good health and in cold blood to give me back what’s mine, or did me any kind of harm, I wouldn’t be easy on her — but that won’t be necessary. But I know her well enough still to trust her.
And there again, if she manages to keep her place going, from the commercial point of view I wouldn’t blame her for preferring to be the one who eats and not the one who gets eaten. If she stepped on my toes a bit in order to succeed — if need be — she has carte blanche.
When I saw her again she didn’t hurt my feelings, which she would have done if she was as nasty as people say she is.
I saw Tanguy yesterday and he put a canvas I had just done in his window, I’ve done four since you left, and I have a big one on the go. I’m well aware that these big, long canvases are hard to sell, but in time people will see that there’s open air and good cheer in them. Now the whole lot will make a decoration for a dining room or a house in the country.
And if you really fell in love and then got married, I wouldn’t think it impossible that you too might manage to get hold of a house in the country, like so many other picture dealers. If you live well you spend more, but you also gain more ground, and perhaps these days we do better if we look rich than if we look hard up. It’s better to have fun than to kill yourself. Warm regards to all at home.
Yours truly,