Vincent van Gogh - Landscape with Trees and Figures 1889

Landscape with Trees and Figures 1889
Landscape with Trees and Figures
Oil on canvas 49.9 x 65.4 cm. Saint-Rémy: November, 1889
Baltimore: The Baltimore Museum of Art

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The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Theo van Gogh to Vincent van Gogh. Paris, Thursday, 2 May 1889.
My dear Vincent,
Many thanks for your letter, which shows us that at least your physical powers leave nothing to be desired, since you say that you have too much of them; however you must be wary, when one feels one’s powers it isn’t proven that one has a great deal of them, but if that’s the case, so much the better. Now there’s something in your letter of which I disapprove entirely and which I’m going to tell you, afterwards you can do what you want. It is your plans for the Foreign Legion. That’s a last resort, isn’t it? for I don’t think that you have spontaneously acquired a taste for this profession. It’s that not being able to do any painting at the moment, being in convalescence, gives you the idea of no longer being able to do it at all, then you tell yourself that three months’ care without being able to work cost money and don’t bring any in, but you’re forgetting that, supposing they let you work when you’re a soldier, you’re held there like a kid in a boarding school, and if you already fear the supervision of a house like the one at St-Rémy you have much more to fear from the practices of military life. All in all, this idea comes from an excessive fear of causing me expenses and problems, and you get yourself worked up needlessly. The last year hasn’t been bad for me from the point of view of money, and you can therefore, without scruples and without harming me, count on what I was sending you before. If you’re not averse to going to St-Rémy for let’s say a month, you would have been examined by specialist doctors and probably you would have been able to benefit from their advice.
On the other hand, in a letter written to me by the Director of the St-Rémy establishment, he doesn’t want to promise anything on the subject of allowing you to go out when you wish before having examined you, but I assume that after seeing you there’s no doubt that he’ll leave you free to go out to go and work. For myself, I attribute a large part of your illness to the fact that your material existence has been neglected too much. In an establishment as at St-Rémy there’s more or less the same regularity in mealtimes etc., and I think that this regularity will do you no harm, on the contrary. Now if you prefer, we could obtain information about the institution at Aix or Marseille to see if other conditions are laid down there.

You should know that from one point of view you aren’t to be pitied, although it may appear otherwise. How many are there who would want to have done the work that you’ve delivered, what more do you ask for, wasn’t that your desire, to have created something, if it has been given to you to do what you’ve done, why would you despair whether a time will come when you’ll do good work again? However bad society may be at present, there’s the means to live in it, the proof Puvis de C., Degas and others. I’m sure that if you want you can take up your work again in a short while from now. However, do not believe that I don’t feel all the disillusionment when you went back into your studio, for example, after the damp made it go mouldy. Continue to be of good heart, your disasters will surely come to an end.
Best wishes from my wife, who is well. She’s becoming really accustomed to the house. Good handshake.