To Theo van Gogh. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Saturday, 7 December 1889.
My dear Theo,
Yesterday I sent three packets by parcel post containing studies which I hope you’ll receive in good order. I really must thank you for the 10 metres of canvas, which have just arrived.
Among the studies you’ll find the following, which are for our mother and sister. Olive trees – Bedroom – Reaper – Working with plough – Wheatfield with cypresses – Orchard in blossom – Portrait.
The remainder is above all autumn studies and I think the best one is the yellow mulberry tree against a very blue sky. Then the study of the house and of the park, of which there are two variants. The studies on no. 30 canvases weren’t yet dry and will follow later. They’re giving me a lot of trouble, and sometimes I find them very ugly, sometimes they look good to me – perhaps you’ll have the same impression when you see them. There are a dozen of them, so it’s more substantial than what I’ve just sent.
In spite of the cold I’m continuing to work outside up to now, and I think that it’s good for me and for the work.
The last study I did is a view of the village – where people were at work – under enormous plane trees – repairing the pavements. So there are piles of sand, stones and the gigantic tree-trunks – the yellowing foliage, and here and there glimpses of a house-front and little figures.
I often think of you and Jo, but with a feeling as if there was an enormous distance from here to Paris and as if it were years since I saw you. I hope that your health is good, for myself I can’t complain, I feel absolutely normal, so to speak, but without ideas for the future, and truly I don’t know what it’s going to be, and perhaps I’m avoiding going into this question deeply, sensing that I can do nothing about it.
I’ve finished, or almost, the copy of The diggers too.
You’ll see that there are no more impastos in the large studies. I prepare the thing with sorts of washes with spirits, and then proceed with touches or hatchings of colour with spaces between them. This imparts atmosphere and uses less paint.
If I want to send this letter off today I must hurry, so handshake in thought and warm regards to Jo.