Vincent van Gogh - Self-Portrait 1887

Self-Portrait  1887
Oil on canvas 41.0 x 33.0 cm. Paris: Summer, 1887
Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum

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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

To Theo van Gogh. Nuenen, between about Monday, 21 and Thursday, 24 January 1884.
My dear Theo,
So far things are still going relatively well with Ma, in so far as the leg is staying in position as it was set.
But otherwise these are gloomy days. And I’m afraid that in the long run lying will become very much more difficult for Ma herself.
We talked about it these last few days with reference to your letter, in which you say that you’re thinking of coming. It would certainly be a great joy for Ma to see you, but all the same, looked at from the other side it’s something we have to be careful about.
And that’s the associated parting when you had to leave again. And then it could be that Ma might think, if you came, that it was a sign that she was in a bad way. Yet it’s certain that Ma would be very happy if you came.
At each of his visits the doctor has said that it was going as well as it could, and I believe that once we’ve got through the first week without the leg coming out of position, this will be a big gain in itself. I just write to you about your coming because, suppose you should do it, I would think it advisable that you did not come and surprise her, but wrote to Ma about it first.

Should there unfortunately be any turn for the worse, we would of course telegraph, you can always depend on that. Of course, whether you come or not is a question that can absolutely only be decided by you. There’s no particular and immediate danger, but it’s impossible to foresee how things will go.
Wil is bearing up admirably.
Pa has certainly written to tell you all the particulars, and will write to you again soon.
I can’t keep my mind on writing and I have little time for it, because when I’m not with Ma I’m at a weaver’s nearby, where I’m working on 2 painted studies.
Write to me soon, with a handshake.
Ever yours,

Do not regard this letter as if I said that I wouldn’t approve if you came — do with it as your feelings and the circumstances dictate — but I write about it as a precaution, so that if you do come, you mustn’t do it unexpectedly in my view, because it might be a shock to Ma, or the emotion of the later parting be too strong.