Van Gogh made twenty-one paintings in Saint-Rémy that were "translations" of the work of Jean-François Millet. Van Gogh did not intend for his works to be literal copies of the originals. Speaking specifically of the works after Millet, he explained, "it's not copying pure and simple that one would be doing. It is rather translating into another language, the one of colors, the impressions of chiaroscuro and white and black."
To Anna van Gogh-Carbentus and Willemien van Gogh. Arles, Monday, 7 January 1889.
Dearest mother and sister,
For a couple of weeks now it has been my firm intention to drop you a line to wish you a prosperous and happy New Year. I’m perhaps a little late for that now.
You’ll probably forgive me for this when I tell you that I’ve been indisposed, and in December at that.
But can tell you at the same time that I’m completely recovered and back to my normal routine and work.
Although we have winter here too and, what’s worse, the countryside is partly flooded, all the same we have a good deal milder weather at times than you do in Holland.
Would you be so good as to take note that I’m dropping you this line in case Theo should have told you something about my being indisposed for a few days. I hope that he understood of his own accord that it wasn’t worthwhile telling you about it.
But so that there can’t be any worrying about it, or any question of it, I’m writing to you myself.
I’ve also deliberately put off replying to Jet Mauve, which I hope to do very soon, though, and thank Wil very much for her last letter.
I acquired quite a few acquaintances here just at the time I wasn’t well, and will probably get several portraits to do.
I do hope all is going well with all of you, particularly your health. As for me, precisely because I’ve been unwell for a few days I’m actually very refreshed, and have a chance of not having anything else wrong for a very long time.
Meanwhile, it would please me very greatly if I were to get a letter from you one of these days.
Although it’s still somewhat in the future, you’ll already be thinking about Theo’s visit all the same. It wouldn’t really surprise me if he came rather earlier than usual this year, that’s to say before the exhibition instead of after it.
But he’ll have to act as circumstances dictate.
I couldn’t help thinking about you quite a lot these days, be assured of that and believe me
Paul Gauguin to Vincent van Gogh. Paris, between Tuesday, 8 and Wednesday, 16 January 1889.
your sunflowers on a yellow background which I regard as a perfect page of an essential ‘Vincent’ style. At your brother’s home I saw your Sower, which is very good, as well as a yellow still life, apples and lemons. Your brother gave me a lithographed reproduction of an old painting of yours, Dutch – very interesting as regards colour in the drawing. In my studio next to your portrait
. The grape harvests are totally covered in scales as a result of the white which has separated. I’ve stuck all of it back down using a process shown to me by the reliner. If I tell you about it it’s because the thing is easy to do and can be very good for those of your canvases that need retouching – you stick newspapers on your canvas with flour paste. Once dry, you put your canvas on a smooth board and with very hot irons you press down hard on it. All the breaks in your colour will remain but will be flattened down and you’ll have a very fine surface. Afterwards you soak your paper covering well and take off all the paper.
That’s largely the whole secret of relining.
Thank Roulin for thinking of me. I have indeed received my stretcher keys – at the next opportunity if you can send me by parcel post my 2 fencing masks and gloves, which I left on the shelf in the little upstairs room.
Friendly wishes from me to everyone.
At Mr Schuffenecker’s
29 rue Boulard –