Vincent van Gogh - Self-Portrait 1887

Self-Portrait 1887
Oil on canvas on cardboard 42.5 x 31.5 cm. Paris: Summer, 1887
Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum

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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

To Theo van Gogh. Nuenen, Friday, 18 and Saturday, 19 January 1884.
My dear Theo,
As agreed, I’m writing to you again today, now that the doctor’s been back. The first night was very peaceful, and since a great deal depends on rest, the doctor was very pleased that Ma had been able to keep her leg completely still so that everything that had been set had stayed in its place.
We asked again exactly what it was, and the thighbone definitely is broken just below the head of the femur.
You know that I was just on the point of paying off one thing and another with that money you sent. Obviously I’ve now said that since there will be all sorts of extra expenditure for Pa — Pa must go ahead and use it, and the other things will just have to be deferred (and it was by chance that I hadn’t sent it off yet). It will certainly be a long time before Ma’s better. Pa will undoubtedly give you more details when he writes. With a handshake in thought.
Ever yours,

Saturday morning
Wanted to add here that last night was peaceful too, and that Ma slept quite a bit. She sends you her regards again. But there’s a lot that will have to be dealt with, brother, before everything’s all right again. Willemien is doing famously, and it’s fortunate that she’s at home.
Lies is rather feeble — she felt very faint again yesterday.
Theo, do think again hard about whether you might come up with an idea as to how I could earn some money one way or another. Money will be needed, and we should also look again at the possibility of doing something with my work. If only so that I myself can pay for the outgoings involved in the work, and you can use for Ma what you would otherwise give me. Pa will certainly have told you that the doctor said that at best it will be six months before she can walk.
I already told you that I’m working on watercolours of the weavers here. I’ll try to get some finished. However, I can’t give all my time to them now, and have to be at home a lot — at least for the next few days.
Well, I’ll send a postcard once the doctor has been again today. Regards.

To Anthon van Rappard. Nuenen, on or about Sunday, 20 January 1884.
My dear friend Rappard,
Just a word to tell you something about what has been preoccupying all of us here these last few days. My mother had an accident getting out of the train, and a serious one at that — since she’s broken her right thighbone.
The setting went pretty well, she’s calm and not in much pain. But I don’t have to tell you that it’s something which causes us all great concern. I’m just glad I’m here because, since my sisters are also weak, I can find plenty for me to do.
My sisters are otherwise not doing badly. The one who’s usually in Soesterberg is the weakest. I can hardly find words to describe how bravely the one who was at home when you were with us is bearing up these days. There’s still a lot to deal with regarding my mother — the doctor assures us that it can mend — but at best she won’t be able to walk again for six months, and even then one leg will always be shorter than the other.
Imagine that there’s no doctor in this village (at least my father won’t have him), and so one has to come from Eindhoven, in a carriage every time?
It’s a disaster — the consequences of which I find difficult to gauge.
Anyway — we obviously have to live from one day to the next, in so far as sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Fortunately she remains calm and clear-headed, and so cooperates herself in keeping things quiet. Write to me soon — have you started on anything new since I saw you?
I’m still working on the weavers, but I’m afraid I’ll only be able to work half-time for a long while because of what has happened, which means that a great many other things have to be done.
As I wrote to you, I’ve made various studies in watercolour directly from life. I’ll make a start on some watercolours after them, because I have to stay in the house most of the time now.
My mother and my father send their regards too.
My mother had just gone from Nuenen to Helmond by train one morning to do some shopping.
She seems to have lost her footing when she got out of the train at the station in Helmond. She then had to be brought back here in a carriage. It’s fortunate that things are now not much worse than they are, given the form of transport, and that the setting went so well (although it’s bad enough in itself). But still — there’s a lot to be dealt with.
Write soon if you can.
With a handshake in thought.
Ever yours,