To Theo van Gogh. Etten, end of June 1881.
My dear Theo,
It’s time that I wrote you a few lines again.
I must tell you that Rappard was here for 12 days or so, and has now left. Naturally he sends you his regards.
We went on a fair number of excursions together, several times to the heath at Seppe, among other places, and the so-called Passievaart, a huge marsh. There Rappard painted a large study (1 metre x 50 cm), much of which was good. Incidentally, he made around 10 small sepias, also in the Liesbos.
While he was painting I made a pen drawing of another spot in the marsh where many water lilies grow. (Near Roosendaalseweg.)
We also went to Princenhage together, but Uncle was in bed and is unwell again.
It seems to me that Rappard really is progressing in his work, from what he told me he seems to have been given a well-furnished studio at home. This week he’s going to Loosdrecht, where he intends to spend a month. He also works regularly and hard.
I’ve received Cassagne, Traité d’aquarelle, and am busy studying it, even if I don’t make any watercolours I’ll probably find a great deal in it anyway, as regards sepia and ink, for example.
Because up to now I’ve been drawing with pencil only, worked up or heightened with the pen, if necessary with a reed pen, which makes broader lines.
That manner of working was implicit in what I’ve been drawing lately, for they were subjects which required a lot of drawing, also drawing in perspective, namely several workshops here in the village, a smithy, a carpenter’s shop and a clog-maker.
Willemien has left and I’m sorry, she poses very well, I have a drawing of her and one of another girl who stayed here. I put a sewing machine in that one. There are no spinning wheels nowadays, and that’s a great pity for painters and draughtsmen. However, something has taken their place that is no less picturesque, and that is the sewing machine. What’s the situation about your coming here next summer? Is there still a chance that it’ll happen? I hope so.
Rappard appears to keep his own boat there at Loosdrecht, that’s rather jolly.
He intends to go from Loosdrecht to Gelderland. He’d very much like to meet you, and I’ve promised him that if you were to come and I knew beforehand when, I’d let him know so that he could arrange to see you.
I don’t know whether he’ll go back to Paris, he didn’t even mention it. I don’t know whether this is a sign that he’s no longer thinking about it or whether, on the contrary, he’s hatching his plan.
When I think about the circumstance of his being only 23 years old and other such things, it wouldn’t surprise me if the latter was the case.
You will, I hope, write when you have a spare moment. If you can manage to get me a catalogue from the Salon, please do so. Rappard told me that he was also going to buy all of Cassagne’s books. He’s still struggling with perspective, and I know of no better remedy for that disease. If I, at any rate, am ever completely cured of it, I’ll have those books to thank for it. That’s to say, the putting into practice of the theory contained in them. The putting into practice can’t, however, be purchased with the books; were it so, perhaps more would be sold.
And now adieu, with a handshake.