To Theo van Gogh and Jo van Gogh-Bonger. Auvers-sur-Oise, Tuesday, 20 May 1890.
My dear Theo and dear Jo
After making Jo’s acquaintance it will be difficult for me from now on to write to Theo alone, but Jo will permit me, I hope, to write in French, because after two years in the south I really think, in doing so, that I tell you better what I have to say. Auvers is really beautiful – among other things many old thatched roofs, which are becoming rare. I’d hope, then, that in doing a few canvases of that really seriously, there would be a chance of recouping some of the costs of my stay – for really it’s gravely beautiful, it’s the heart of the countryside, distinctive and picturesque.
I’ve seen Dr Gachet, who gave me the impression of being rather eccentric, but his doctor’s experience must keep him balanced himself while combating the nervous ailment from which it seems to me he’s certainly suffering at least as seriously as I am.
He directed me to an inn where they were asking 6 francs a day.
For my part I’ve found one where I’ll pay 3.50 a day.
And until there’s a change of circumstances I think I ought to stay there. When I’ve done a few studies I’ll see if there would be any advantage in moving. But it seems unjust to me, when one wants to and can pay and work like any other workman, to have to pay almost double all the same because one works at painting. Anyway I’m starting with the 3.50 inn. You’ll probably see Dr Gachet this week – he has a very fine Pissarro, winter with red house in the snow, and two fine bouquets by Cézanne.
Also another Cézanne of the village. Myself, in my turn I’ll gladly, very gladly give a stroke of the brush here..
I told Dr Gachet that I would find the inn he suggested preferable at 4 francs a day, but that 6 was 2 francs too dear for the expenses I’m having. It’s all right for him to say that I’ll be quieter there, enough is enough.
His own house is full of old things, dark, dark, dark, with the exception of a few sketches by Impressionists I mentioned. Despite the fact that he’s an odd fellow, the impression he made on me isn’t unfavourable. Chatting of Belgium and the days of the old painters, his grief-stiffened face took on a smile again, and I really think that I’ll stay friends with him and that I’ll do his portrait. Then he tells me that I must work a great deal, boldly, and not think at all about what I’ve had.
I really felt in Paris that all the noise there wasn’t what I need.
How pleased I am to have seen Jo and the little one and your apartment, which is indeed better than the other one.
Wishing you good luck and health, and hoping to see you again very soon, good handshakes