From The Cleveland Museum of Art:
In May 1890, Van Gogh left the south and settled in Auvers, a small town north of Paris, where he rented a room at the inn of Arthur Ravoux. This portrait, completed during the last months of the artist’s life, depicts Ravoux’s 13-year-old daughter, Adeline. Van Gogh wrote that rather than photographic resemblance, he wanted his portraits to convey the “impassioned aspects” of contemporary life through the “modern taste for color.”
Bequest of Leonard C. Hanna Jr.
To Theo van Gogh. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, on or about Friday, 2 May 1890.
My dear Theo,
Once again I’m writing to you to say that I’m staying well, yet I feel a little worn out by this long crisis, and I dare believe that the planned move will refresh my ideas more. I think that it’ll be best for me to go myself to see this doctor in the country as soon as possible; then we can soon decide if I’m going to lodge with him or temporarily at the inn; and thus we’ll avoid an over-long stay in Paris, a thing that I would fear.
You remember that 6 months ago I told you after a crisis that if it happened again I would ask you to let me move? We’re at that point – although I don’t feel capable of passing judgement on the way they have of dealing with the patients here – it’s enough that I feel that what remains to me of reason and capacity for work is absolutely in danger. While, on the contrary, I’m confident that I can prove to this doctor you speak of that I still know how to work logically, and he’ll treat me accordingly, and since he likes painting there’s sufficient chance that a solid friendship will result from it.
I don’t think Mr Peyron will oppose a very prompt departure. Besides, I tell myself that the pleasure of spending a few days with you will do me a lot of good. And from that moment on we can really count on a period of relative health. So don’t delay in taking the necessary steps so that this doesn’t drag on.
Once I’m there I can send for my bed, which is in Arles.
Besides, I would move anyway, preferring to be in an asylum where the patients worked to this awful idleness here, which really seems to me quite simply a crime. Anyway, you’ll tell me that this is seen more or less everywhere, and that there’s even plenty of it in Paris. Whatever the case, I hope that we’ll see each other again very soon. The etchings you sent me are really beautiful. Opposite this I’ve scribbled a croquis after a painting I’ve done of three figures which are in the background of the Lazarus etching. The dead man and his two sisters. The cave and the corpse are violet, yellow, white. The woman who is taking the handkerchief from the resurrected man’s face has a green dress and orange hair, the other has black hair and a striped garment. Green and pink. Behind a countryside, blue hills, a yellow rising sun. The combination of colours would thus itself speak of the same thing expressed by the chiaroscuro of the etching.
If I were still to have at my disposal the model who posed for the Berceuse and the other whose portrait you’ve just received after Gauguin’s drawing, then certainly I’d try to execute it in a large size, this canvas, the personalities being what I would have dreamed of as characters. But leaving aside subjects of this kind, there will still remain the study from life of peasants and landscapes when I’m back in the north.
As regards the order for colours. Should I remain here for another few days, please send off part of it at once. If, however, I leave in the next few days – which I hope – you can keep it in Paris.
In any event, write to me in the next few days; I hope that you’ll have received the canvases in good order. I’ve done another one of a nook of greenery which seems to me to have some freshness. I’ve also attempted a copy of Delacroix’s Good Samaritan. I think from a note in Le Figaro that père Quost must have a darned good painting in the Salon.
Warm regards to your wife, I’m very much looking forward to making her acquaintance at last, and good handshake in thought.