Vincent van Gogh - Still Life with Three Birds Nests 1885

Still Life with Three Birds Nests 1885
Still Life with Three Birds Nests
Oil on canvas 33.0 x 42.0 cm. Nuenen: September-October, 1885
Otterlo: Kröller-Müller Museum

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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

To Theo van Gogh. The Hague, on or about Monday, 10 April 1882.
My dear Theo,
Today I sent you 1 drawing by post which I’m sending to you as a token of gratitude for so much that you’ve done for me during this otherwise hard winter. Last summer, when you had that large woodcut by Millet, ‘the shepherdess’, I thought: how much one can do with one single line! Naturally I don’t presume to say as much as Millet with a single outline. But I’ve nevertheless tried to put some sentiment into this figure. Now I only hope that this figure is to your liking. And now you see at the same time that I’m hard at work. Now that I’ve started, I’d like to make around 30 studies of the nude.
The enclosed is, I think, the best figure I’ve drawn, that’s why I thought I’d send it to you.
This isn’t the study from the model and yet it’s directly from the model. You should know that I had two sheets underneath my paper. Well, I’d toiled to get the outlines right and when I took the drawing off the plank it was very cleanly impressed on the two underlying sheets and then I immediately worked it up after the first study, so that this one is even fresher than the first.
I’ve kept the other two and wouldn’t like to part with them. At the same time you’ll see from this that it isn’t without reason that I wrote to you that I wished the money for H.G.T. could wait, I need it so much myself now, and working hard with a model seems to me to be the quickest way of getting right on top of it. The model I have isn’t at all expensive, but because the expense recurs day after day it’s often difficult for me to pay it. Anyway, arrange it as best you can, but if it’s convenient for you, send what you spoke of not too late in the month. Adieu, with a handshake.
Ever yours,
It seems to me that this drawing would do well in a simple grey mount.
Naturally I don’t always draw like this. But I’m extremely fond of those English drawings that are done in this style, so it’s no wonder that I tried to do the same for once, and because it was for you, who understands these things, I didn’t hesitate to be somewhat melancholy. I wanted to say something like
But the heart’s emptiness remains
That nothing will make full again
as it says in Michelet’s book.