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."
Paul Signac to Vincent van Gogh. Cassis, Friday, 12 April 1889.
My dear friend,
I’m really happy to have received good news of you and to learn that you have set to work again.
As I told you in my hasty card, I’ve settled in Cassis, a pretty little port an hour from Marseille. Some white, some blue, some orange harmonically dispersed in pretty undulations. All around mountains with rhythmic curves.
I’m giving myself a great deal of trouble. Should I manage to render a tenth of what I see, I’d be most content.
Our Veronese Green and our cobalt blue – not that of that good fellow Tanguy – are without doubt shit beside these Mediterranean waves.
I’m much hindered by the weather: rain or mistral for several days. I’m taking advantage of this setback to do the plates of a work that was ordered from me in collaboration with Mr C. Henry (perhaps you’ve read certain of my collaborator’s articles in the Revue Indépendante) by the Librairie de l’Art.
It’s a book on the aesthetics of shapes, whose measurements and angles can be studied by means of an instrument – C. Henry’s aesthetic protractor. One then sees if the shape is harmonious or not.
This will have a great social bearing, above all from the point of view of industrial art. We’re teaching the art of seeing correctly and beautifully to apprentice workmen etc. whose aesthetic education has only been conducted up to now by means of empirical formulae and dishonest or silly advice. I’ll send you one of these brochures when they’ve seen the light of day.
Why don’t you come to do a study or two in this pretty country?
Good news of you very often, eh?
2 place de la République
To Theo van Gogh. Arles, between about Sunday, 14 and about Wednesday, 17 April 1889.
My dear Theo,
I’m rather surprised that you haven’t written to me once these last few days. However, like the previous time when you went to Holland, it’s above all sheer chance.
Now I hope that all these things have gone well for you.
In the meantime I’ve been obliged to ask Tasset for 10 metres of canvas and a few tubes.
Also I still need
12 zinc white large tubes
1 Emerald ,, ,,
2 Cobalt ,, ,,
2 Ultramarine ,, ,,
1 Vermilion ,, ,,
4 Veronese Green ,, ,,
3 Chrome I ,, ,,
1 ,, II ,, ,,
2 Geranium lake medium tubes
I have 6 spring studies, including two large orchards. It’s very urgent, because these effects are so fleeting. So write to me by return. I’ve taken an apartment of 2 small rooms at 6 (or 8 francs a month, water included) which belong to Mr Rey. It’s certainly not expensive, but not nearly as nice as the other studio.
But to be able to move home and send you a consignment of canvases I would have to pay the other landlord. And that’s why I was more or less stunned that you hadn’t sent me anything. But anyway.
Hoping again that all those marriage matters went off to your liking, wishing you and your wife lots of happiness with all my heart
Signac has asked me to join him in Cassis, but seeing as we have enough expenses without that, whatever I do or you do it isn’t within our means.