Vincent van Gogh - Two Peasant Women Digging Potatoes 1885

Two Peasant Women Digging Potatoes 1885
Two Peasant Women Digging Potatoes
Oil on canvas on panel 31.5 x 42.5 cm. Nuenen: August, 1885
Otterlo: Kröller-Müller Museum

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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Theo van Gogh to Vincent van Gogh. Paris, Thursday, 5 January 1882.
My dear Vincent,
I received your two letters and thank you for keeping me informed about how things are going. I think it very good that you’re permanently installed in The Hague, and hope to do as much as I can to help you until you can start earning yourself, but what I don’t like is the way you’ve contrived to leave Pa and Ma.(1) It’s possible that you couldn’t bear to stay there, and it’s no more than natural that you differ in your way of thinking from people who have spent their whole lives in the country and haven’t had the opportunity to partake of modern life, but what the devil made you so childish and so shameless as to contrive in this way to make Pa and Ma’s life miserable and nearly impossible?(2) It isn’t difficult to fight with someone who’s already weary.(3) When Pa wrote to me about it, I thought it was a misunderstanding, but you yourself say in your letter, As far as the relations between Pa and me are concerned, they can’t be put to rights so quickly.(4) Don’t you know him, and don’t you know that Pa can’t live as long as there’s bad blood between the two of you?(5) It’s your duty to set things straight at all costs, and I assure you that some day you’ll mightily regret having handled this matter so harshly.(6) Now you have Mauve who attracts you, and because you carry things too far, anyone who isn’t like him doesn’t appeal to you, because you’re looking for the same qualities in everyone.(7) Is it not hard for Pa to see himself reduced to nothing by someone who professes to be more free-thinking(8) than him, and whom he probably occasionally envies deep down for his keener perception?(9) Does his life count for nothing?(10) I don’t understand you.(11)
Write to me again when you can,(12) and give my regards to Mauve and Jet. Always
Ever yours,

To Theo van Gogh. The Hague, Thursday, 5 or Friday, 6 January 1882.
Dear brother,
Tell me, Theo, how do I stand with you? Surely you’ve received my last letter, in which I told you one thing and another about what happened at home and how that resulted in my leaving home and going back to The Hague, and am now in my own studio, address SCHENKWEG No. 138 (near the Rijnspoor Station).
Mauve, you know, helped me to settle in, but I still have all kinds of expenses ahead of me, and I truly haven’t had a penny in my pocket for a day or two. Of course I’d really counted on your having sent at least the 100 francs for the month of January. But I haven’t received anything yet, not even a letter from you. The worst thing is that it’s impossible for me to work with a model before I have something in my pocket again, and so there’s almost nothing I can do, the weather is too bad to sit outdoors, although I’ve tried to repeatedly.
I’m fine, but the last couple of days I’ve been weak from the tension.
I’ve looked for models and know of a couple, but I can’t take them.
Today I went to Goupil out of desperation, because in keeping with what you wrote I wanted to ask Tersteeg to lend me some money for God’s sake.
But Tersteeg had just left town for a couple of days.
I don’t want to talk to Iterson about it.
I must also bear up bravely towards Mauve. M. has really done enough already.
Tersteeg had promised to come and have a look, but he hasn’t been here yet. If for one reason or another you can’t send the 100 francs all at once, send me part of it by return of post.
I just found a stamp in my pocket, otherwise I wouldn’t even have been able to send this letter. It’s a time of struggle for you and for me, but I believe we’re progressing. So let’s keep our spirits up, adieu, with a handshake.
Ever yours,