To Theo van Gogh. London, Tuesday, 6 April 1875.
My dear Theo,
Thanks for your letter. Didn’t I copy out Meeresstille by Heine in your little book? Some time ago I saw a painting by Thijs Maris that reminded me of it.
An old Dutch town with rows of brownish red houses with step-gables and tall flights of steps, grey roofs, and white or yellow doors, window-frames and cornices; canals with ships and a large white drawbridge, a barge with a man at the tiller going under it. The little house of the bridge-keeper, whom one sees through the window, sitting in his office.
Some distance away a stone bridge over the canal, with people and a cart with white horses crossing it.
And everywhere movement, a porter with his wheelbarrow, a man leaning against the railing, gazing into the water, women in black with white caps. The foreground a quay with paving-stones and a black railing.
In the distance a tower rises above the houses.
A greyish white sky over everything.
It’s a small painting, upright. The subject is nearly the same as the large J. Maris, Amsterdam, which you perhaps know, only this is talent and the other is genius. I’ve again copied out one or two things for you, which I’ll send when I get the chance.
Think of ‘The cliff’ and whether you know of anything else. That Victor Hugo piece is beautiful. Adieu, give my regards to Pa if you see him.