To Theo van Gogh. Etten, between about Friday, 15 and on or about Wednesday, 20 July 1881.
My dear Theo,
In your last letter you wrote that there’s a good chance you’ll be coming to Holland fairly soon. I’m glad of it, because I’m eagerly longing to see you. Now that I know you’re coming, I find it even more unnecessary to send you a thing or two, which I would readily have done if you weren’t coming, so that you would see that, even if my drawings are far from being what they should be, they’re nevertheless not getting worse, in my opinion. Anyway, you’ll see what there is when you come. In my last letter I mentioned a catalogue from the Salon, I did this so that you’d remember it in the event that you can get hold of one.
However, if necessary I can of course do very well without it, it’s not a necessity. But something else is in fact a necessity, and if you come and it’s not too difficult for you to carry, bring me some of it. Namely white Ingres paper. I brought a supply of it from Brussels and have worked on it with pleasure, as it lends itself well to the pen, especially to a reed pen.
I haven’t had any for some time now and can’t get anything here but smooth paper without grain (unless one were to take thin Whatman or Harding, but that’s a bit too expensive for sketches, Ingres paper costs 10 centimes a sheet, I think). So do your best to stuff a smaller or larger quantity into your suitcase and you’ll oblige me more than with anything else.
I made another drawing in the Liesbos, and now it’s become surprisingly hot, too hot in fact to sit on the heath during the day, and I’m working at home these days, copying drawings by Holbein &c. from the Bargues.
Prompted by a thing or two you once said, I’ve also tried to draw a couple of portraits after photographs, and hold it to be a good exercise.
As I already said, write if you can, and accept a handshake in thought.