Avenue of Plane Trees near Arles Station

Avenue of Plane Trees near Arles Station

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Painting Date
19th of March 1888
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Vincent has been in Arles for about a month when he paints the Avenue of Plane Trees near the Arles train Station.  He is working on two other canvases at the same time – views of washer women by a bridge.  The spot from which he paints the Plane Trees is within a block or so of the Yellow House on Place LaMartine.
My dear Theo,
Now at long last, this morning the weather has changed and has turned milder — and I’ve already had an opportunity to find out what this mistral’s1 like too. I’ve been out on several hikes round about here, but that wind always made it impossible to do anything. The sky was a hard blue with a great bright sun that melted just about all the snow — but the wind was so cold and dry it gave you goose-pimples. But even so I’ve seen lots of beautiful things — a ruined abbey on a hill planted with hollies, pines and grey olive trees. We’ll get down to that soon, I hope.2 Now I’ve just finished a study like the one of mine Lucien Pissarro has, but this time it’s of oranges.3 That makes eight studies I have up to now.4But that doesn’t count, as I haven’t yet been able to work in comfort and in the warm.  1v:2
The letter from Gauguin that I had intended to send you but which for a moment I thought I had burned with some other papers, I later found and enclose herewith.5 But I’ve already written to him direct and I’ve sent him Russell’s address as well as sending Gauguin’s to Russell, so that if they wish they can make direct contact.6 But as for many of us — and surely we’ll be among them ourselves — the future is still difficult. I do believe in a final victory, but will artists benefit from it, and will they see more peaceful days?
I’ve bought some coarse canvas here and I’ve had it prepared for matt effects,7 I can now get everything, more or less, at Paris prices.

To Theo. Arles, Friday, 9 March 1888

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What do you say to the news that Kaiser Wilhelm is dead?3 Will that speed up events in France, and will Paris stay calm?4 It seems doubtful. And what effect will all this have on the trade in paintings? I’ve read that it seems there’s a possibility of abolishing import duty on paintings in America, is that true?5
Perhaps it would be easier to get a few dealers and art lovers to agree to buy Impressionist paintings than to get the artists to agree to share equally the price of paintings sold.
Nevertheless, artists won’t find a better way than — to join together, give their pictures to the association, and share the sale price in such a way that at least the society will be able to guarantee the possibility of existence and work for its members.  1v:2 If DegasClaude MonetRenoirSisley and C. Pissarro were to take the initiative and say: here we are, each of the 5 of us gives 10 paintings (or rather, we each give to the value of 10,000 francs, the value estimated by expert members, for example, Tersteeg and yourself, appointed by the society, and these experts also invest capital in the form of paintings), and, furthermore, we commit ourselves to give to the value of… each year.
And we also invite you, GuillauminSeuratGauguin &c. &c. to join us (your pictures being put to the same assessment from the point of view of value).
Then the great Impressionists of the Grand Boulevard,6giving paintings that become common property, would retain their prestige, and the others wouldn’t be able to criticize them for keeping to themselves the benefits of a reputation gained without any doubt by their own efforts and by their individual genius in the first place — but — nevertheless, in the second place, a reputation that is growing and is now also being consolidated and supported by the paintings of a whole battalion of artists who have so far been working while constantly broke.  1v:3 Whatever happens — it’s really to be hoped that the thing comes off, and that you and Tersteegbecome the society’s expert members (with Portier perhaps?).
I have two more studies of landscapes,7 I hope the work will continue steadily and that in a month I’ll get a first consignment to you — I say in a month because I want to send you nothing but the best, and because I want it to be dry, and because I want to send at least a dozen or so all at once because of the cost of transport.
Congratulations on buying the Seurat8 — with what I send you you’ll have to try to make an exchange with Seurat as well.9
You’re well aware that if Tersteeg joins you in this venture, the two of you will easily be able to persuade Boussod Valadon to extend substantial credit for the purchases needed. But it’s urgent, because without that other dealers will cut the ground from under your feet.
I’ve made the acquaintance of a Danish artist10 who talks about Heyerdahl and other people from the north, Krøyer, &c. What he does is dry but very conscientious, and he’s still young. Saw the exhibition of the Impressionists in rue Laffitte11 at the time. He’ll probably come to Paris for the Salon, and wants to tour Holland to see the museums.12  1r:4
I think it’s a very good idea that you put the books in the Independents’ too. This study should be given the title: ‘Parisian novels’.13
I’d be so happy to know you’d succeeded in persuading Tersteeg — well, patience.
I was obliged to buy supplies for 50 francs when your letter arrived. This week I’ll start work on 4 or 5 things.
I think about this association of artists every day, and the plan has developed further in my mind, but Tersteeg would have to be involved, and a lot depends on that.
Nowadays, the artists would probably allow themselves to be persuaded by us, but we can’t go ahead before we have Tersteeg’s help. Without that we’d be on our own, listening to everybody moaning from morning till night, and each of them individually would be constantly coming to ask for explanations — axioms — &c. Shouldn’t be surprised if Tersteeg took the view that we can’t do without the Grand Boulevard artists — and if he advised you to persuade them to take the initiative in an association by giving paintings that would become common property and cease to belong to them individually. It seems to me that the Petit Boulevard would be morally obliged to join in response to a proposal from that side. And those Grand Boulevard gentlemen will only retain their current prestige by forestalling the partly justified criticism of the minor Impressionists, who’ll say: ‘you’re putting everything in your pocket’. They can easily reply to that: not at all, on the contrary, we’re the first to say: ourpaintings belong to the artists.
If DegasMonetRenoir and Pissarro say that — even leaving plenty of room for their individual ideas about putting it into practice — they could — say worse, unless — they say nothing and let things ride.
Ever yours,
Vincent

To Theo. Arles, Saturday, 10 March 1888

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As far as work goes, I brought home a no.15 canvas today, it’s a drawbridge, with a little carriage going across it, outlined against a blue sky — the river blue as well, the banks orange with greenery, a group of washerwomen wearing blouses and multicoloured bonnets.1 And another landscape with a little rustic bridge and washerwomen as well.2 Lastly an avenue of plane trees near the station.3 12 studies altogether since I’ve been here.4
The weather’s changeable, often windy and cloudy skies — but the almond trees are starting to blossom everywhere. All in all I’m very pleased that the paintings are at the Independents.5  1v:2
You’ll do well to go and see Signac at his place.6 I was very pleased at what you wrote in today’s letter, that he made a better impression on you than the first time. In any case I’m happy to know that from today you won’t be on your own in the apartment. Be sure to say hello to Koning for me. Is your health good? As far as mine goes, it’s better, but eating’s a real chore as I have a fever and no appetite, but it’s just a passing thing and a question of patience.
I have company in the evening, because the young Danish painter who’s here is very nice; his work is dry, correct and timid, but I’m not averse to that when the person is young and intelligent. At one time he’d begun to study medicine, he knows the works of ZolaDe Goncourt and Guy de Maupassant, and he has enough money to have an easy time of it.7 Besides that he has a very serious wish to do something different from what he’s doing at present. I think he’d do well to put off returning home for a year, or to come back after a short visit to his compatriots.
But, my dear brother — you know, I feel I’m in Japan. I say no more than that, and again, I’ve seen nothing yet in its usual splendour.  1v:3 That’s why (even while being worried that at the moment expenses are steep and the paintings of no value), that’s why I don’t despair of success in this enterprise of going on a long journey in the south. Here I’m seeing new things, I’m learning, and being treated with a bit of gentleness, my body isn’t refusing me its services. For many reasons I’d like to be able to create a pied-à-terre which, when people were exhausted, could be used to provide a rest in the country for poor Paris cab-horses like yourself and several of our friends, the poor Impressionists.

To Theo. Arles, on or about Friday, 16 March 1888

 

 

Painting, Oil on Canvas
Arles, France: March 19, 1888
Musée Rodin
Paris, France, Europe
F: 398, JH: 1366

Where Vincent Was:
Arles

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