To Anthon van Rappard. The Hague, between about Tuesday, 12 and Sunday, 17 September 1882.
My dear friend Rappard,
I’m pleased to be able to send you the enclosed woodcuts. You’ll see, though, that these too are rather tattered at the folds. That’s not because of going through the post, but because they were kept for so long in a subscription library. But you’ll be able to glue them together, as I very often have to do myself. Write and tell me whether you have a female figure by Percy Macquoid holding a candle on the stairs of an armoury where the gleam of a suit of armour can be seen. I believe you’ve already had it from me, together with a girl in white leaning against a tree, but if you don’t have it I’ll send it when the opportunity arises. Macquoid is one of the most distinguished of the English illustrators. I think you’ll like the Renouards. I may be able to add some more later, since the Jew4 told me he still had more of that jumble of magazines at home (from which I took these and my own) which he hadn’t brought along because they were too tattered. When I have time I’m going to look through his jumble — which isn’t a pleasant task, by the way.
I think The miners’ strike is superb, I believe it will please you too.
I made a big effort to get things with miners — this and an English one of an accident6 are the best — such subjects are rarely handled, by the way. I would like to do studies of them myself sooner or later. Write to me if you would, Rappard, in earnest whether — supposing I were to go for 2 months, say, to the mining region in the Borinage — you would like to go with me.
It’s quite a difficult part of the world — the journey is no pleasure trip — but it’s one of the things I would love to undertake as soon as I feel more confident about making
lightning sketches of people in motion — knowing that there are such beautiful things to do there, which as yet have rarely been painted by others, if at all.
But because one has to deal with all sorts of difficulties in a region like that, there’s every reason to go together.
At present my circumstances don’t permit it – but this is an idea that’s deeply rooted in me.
I’ve often worked on the beach recently, either drawing or painting. And the sea attracts me more and more.
I don’t know what your experience of getting on with artists here has been like — I’ve found more than once that people began to rail viciously against what they called ‘the illustrative’ in a manner that to me very clearly proved they had no understanding of the matter at all, were completely unaware of what’s going on in that sphere. And were also not to be persuaded, or rather chose not to even take the trouble to look at a few things. Or if they did look, it was in their head for a short time and then straight out again.
Now my experience of you has been that you think differently.
I’ve recently found some things by Lançon — a soup distribution, a gathering of rag-pickers, gang of snow-shovellers — which made me get up at night to take another look at them, that’s how strong an impression they made on me.
And especially while I myself toil away to make something of the things that interest me more and more on the street, in the 3rd-class waiting room, on the beach, in a hospital, my respect grows for the great portrayers of the people such as, for example, Renouard or Lançon or Doré or Morin or Gavarni or Du Maurier or C. Keene or Howard Pyle or Hopkins or Herkomer and Frank Holl and countless others.
Perhaps this has been your experience to some extent too. Well – whatever the case — I find it highly interesting that you’re toiling at various subjects that I also think are most appealing, and sometimes I regret that we live quite far apart and can see relatively little of each other.
Well, I haven’t the time to write, accept a handshake in thought, and believe me
Here’s a scratch in great haste of a watercolour I’m working on.