Vincent van Gogh - Half Figure of an Angel, after Rembrandt 1889

Half Figure of an Angel, after Rembrandt 1889
Half Figure of an Angel, after Rembrandt
Oil on canvas 54.0 x 64.0 cm. Saint-Rémy: September, 1889
Private collection

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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Theo van Gogh to Vincent van Gogh. Paris, Saturday, 27 October 1888.
My dear Vincent,
On returning from Brussels I find your telegram and your letter; in reply to the first, which gave me great pleasure, I’m sending you a money order, because although it’s possible that Gauguin has received the letter that I addressed to Pont-Aven, thinking him still over there, the possibility exists that the two of you may not have received it, that it may be even more difficult for two together than one alone to have enough to live on. Why don’t you try to obtain credit with the owner of a restaurant for occasions when, as just recently, I’m not there, or am unable to send you money immediately?

I’m very, very pleased that Gauguin is with you, because I was afraid he’d found some obstacle to his coming. Now, from your letter I can see that you’re ill and that you’re giving yourself masses of worries. I must tell you something once and for all. To me it’s as if the matter of money and sales of paintings and the whole financial side doesn’t exist, or rather, that it exists like an illness. Since it’s certain that the money question won’t disappear before a tremendous revolution, or probably several revolutions, we have to treat it like the pox, if we have it. That’s to say, take precautions against the accidents that can result from it, but otherwise not worry oneself sick about it. You’ve been thinking about it too much recently, and even though there’s no symptom of an accident, you’re suffering as a result. By accidents I mean poverty, and so it’s important, in order to avoid it, to tread carefully, not to overdo it, and to avoid other kinds of illness as far as possible. You talk about money that you owe me and and that you wish to pay back to me. I know nothing of that. What I’d like to see you achieve would be that you never had that concern. I must work to earn money. Since the two of us don’t have much of it, we mustn’t overburden ourselves, but taking that into consideration we can hold out for some time yet, even without selling this or that. If you feel the need to do a great deal of work for yourself, good, say so, and I think we’ll be able to manage anyway, but I don’t understand the calculation of so many paintings at 100 francs, if we want them to be worth 100 francs; they’re worth nothing, because this unworthy society is only on the side of those who have no need of it. But knowing that, let’s do likewise and say, we have no need of it. Is not forewarned forearmed? You can, if you wish, do something for me; that’s to continue as in the past and create for us a circle of artists and friends, something which I’m utterly incapable of doing by myself and which you, however, have more or less created since you’ve been in France. If the artists start out, will the others not follow when we need them, at a time when we can no longer work as at present? I’m firmly convinced of it, myself.
You don’t know how you grieve me when you say that you’ll have worked so much that you’ll feel that you haven’t lived. First of all, I believe that isn’t true, because you are in fact living, and in the same way as great men and noblemen. But for pity’s sake, let me know in good time, so that I don’t feel that you’ve been in poverty and that you’ve been ill because you didn’t have a crust of bread to live on. I hope that Gauguin’s company will be pleasant for you and that you’ll soon recover. I haven’t received his canvases yet. Did he send them, or should they reach me via someone?
In Brussels I met Degroux’s son, who’s also an artist. Unfortunately it was the last evening I was there and so I couldn’t see what he’s done. The movement that’s being formed here in art seems much debated but also approved of over there, and it would be good to create a permanent exhibition in Brussels as well. De Haan’s coming to live with me tomorrow, which I’m very pleased about; I’m very curious to know what he’s going to do, because he’s eager to get down to work right away. You’ll find enclosed a letter from our mother, which she asks me to pass on to you. Tasset will send you the colours and the canvas shortly.
More soon, and good handshake, to Gauguin as well.