Vincent van Gogh - Head of a Peasant Woman with White Cap 1884

Head of a Peasant Woman with White Cap 1884
Head of a Peasant Woman with White Cap
Oil on canvas on panel 40.5 x 30.5 cm. Nuenen: December, 1884
Zurich: Galerie Nathan

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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

To Theo van Gogh. Isleworth, Tuesday, 3 October 1876.
Sometimes hearts that are drooping
Grow full to the o’erflowing
And they that behold it
Do wonder and know not
That God at their fountains
Far off has been raining.

Dear Theo,
I heard from home that you were ill. How much I’d like to be with you, my boy. Yesterday evening I walked over to Richmond and I thought about you the whole way, it was a beautiful, grey evening, you know that I go there every Monday evening to the Methodist church, yesterday evening I even said a few words on ‘Nothing pleaseth me but in Jesus Christ, and in Him all things please me’.
How I’d like to be with you, though, oh why are we all so far apart? But what shall we do about it?
I’m sending herewith a letter from the aunts at Zundert. You know that Aunt Bet hurt herself so badly. I wrote and told them that, if possible, you and I would walk to Zundert sometime at Christmas.
Herewith I’m copying out a few psalms, you might like to read them at this time. Write a few words soon if you can.
A week ago on Saturday I made a long journey to London, and there I heard about a situation that might be of future interest. The clergymen in such seaside places as Liverpool and Hull, for example, often have need of assistants who speak various languages to work among the seamen and foreigners, and also to visit the sick. In addition, such a situation would be salaried.
I left here early that morning, 4 o’clock, that night it was beautiful in the park here, with the dark avenues of elm trees and the wet road going through them and the grey rainy sky above it all, and there was a thunderstorm in the distance. When daylight came I was in Hyde Park, where the leaves were already falling from the trees and the Virginia creeper was so magnificently red against the houses, and it was foggy. At 7 o’clock I was in Kennington, and rested there awhile in the church I had attended many a Sunday evening. In London I visited one or two people and also went to the gallery of Messrs Goupil & Cie, and there I saw the drawings that Van Iterson had brought, and it was a pleasure to see the Dutch cities and meadows again. That painting by Artz, that mill on the canal, I find really very beautiful. You also have a good life ahead of you, Theo, remain steadfast, and much light will come your way. Is Van Iterson back yet? I was very glad indeed to see him again, he’s bringing you ‘De wijde wijde wereld’, read it one of these days, the first chapters in particular are so beautiful and so truly straightforward. And read Longfellow sometime, e.g.:

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist
And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me
That my soul cannot resist

A feeling of sadness and longing
That is not akin to pain
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain

Come read to me some poem
Some simple and heartfelt lay
That shall soothe this restless feeling
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters
Not from the bards sublime
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of time

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart
As showers from the clouds of summer
Or tears from the eyelids start.

Who through long days of labour
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Why art thou cast down, my soul,
Disquieted in me, oh why?
Foster again the faith of old,
Rejoice in praising Him most high.
Oft hath he taken your distress
And turned it into happiness.
Hope in Him, eyes heavenward raised,
For to my God I still give praise.

If Van Iterson gave you that English hymnal, read No. 14.
And now, old boy, a handshake in thought to you and one to Uncle Jan, adieu, old boy, remain steadfast and get well soon, and write soon about how you’re doing and at the same time send back the aunts’ letter, poor Aunt Bet, what old friends we are. Oh that Zundert, the thought of it’s almost too much at times. Adieu, old boy, may God make us brothers more and more and join us intimately to one another, and may the Love for Him make that bond ever stronger. Give my very warm regards to Uncle Jan, I heard from Pa that Willem and Johan are doing very well indeed. Give my regards, too, to everyone at the Rooses’, from
Your most loving brother,
Paris will also be beautiful now in the autumn, last year Gladwell and I went every Sunday to as many friends and churches as we could, we left in the morning and came home late. Notre-Dame is so absolutely beautiful in the autumn evenings among the chestnut trees. There’s something in Paris, though, that’s more beautiful than the autumn and the churches, and that is the poor people there. I sometimes think of many a person there.