Peasant Woman Peeling Potatoes
Peasant Woman Peeling Potatoes
My dear Theo,
What you write about your visit to Gruby has upset me, but at the same time it reassures me that you went there.
Have you considered that your lethargy — a feeling of extreme lassitude — could have been caused by this heart condition, and that in that case potassium iodide couldn’t be blamed for these periods of stupefied exhaustion?1 If you remember how stupefied I was myself this winter, to the point of being quite incapable! of doing anything whatsoever, apart from a little painting, although I wasn’t taking potassium iodide at all. So if I were you, I’d have it out with Rivet if Gruby tells you not to take it.
And it will in any case — I have no doubt about it — be your intention to be friends with both the one and the other.
I often think of Gruby here and now, and in short I feel well, but it’s because here I have the pure air and the heat, which make things more possible for me. Among all the trials and the bad air of Paris, Rivet takes things as they are without trying to create a paradise and without in the slightest way trying to make us perfect. But he forges a suit of armour, or rather, he inures us to illness and keeps morale up, I find, by making fun of the trouble we have. 1v:2
So if you could now have just one year of living in the country and close to nature, that would make Gruby’s treatment much easier. So I think he’ll urge you not to see women except in case of necessity, but as little as possible. Now for myself, I feel fine here in that respect, but here, since I have work and nature, and if I didn’t have that I’d become melancholy. As long as work has some appeal for you over there, and the Impressionists are going well, that would be a great gain. Because loneliness, worries, vexations, the need for friendship and fellow-feeling not sufficiently met, that’s what’s very bad, the mental emotions of sadness or disappointments undermine us more than riotous living: us, that is, who find ourselves the happy owners of troubled hearts.
I think potassium iodide purifies the blood and the whole system, doesn’t it — will you be able to do without it? Anyway, you’ll have to have a straight talk 1v:3 about it with Rivet, who shouldn’t be jealous.
I could wish you had near you something more rudely alive, warmer than the Dutch — but all the same, Koningwith his whims is an exception for the better. Anyway, it’s always good to have somebody. But I could still wish you had one or two good friends among the French. Would you do me a great favour: my friend the Dane, who leaves for Paris on Tuesday,2 will give you 2 small paintings — nothing much — that I’d like to give to Mme the Countess De la Boissière at Asnières. She stays in boulevard Voltaire, on the first floor of the first house at the end of the Clichy bridge. PèrePerruchot’s restaurant is on the ground floor.3 Would you take them to her personally on my behalf, saying I had hopes of seeing her again this spring and that even here I haven’t forgotten her; I gave them 2 small ones last year as well, her and her daughter. I’d have hope that you wouldn’t regret making these ladies’ acquaintance. After all, they’re a family. The countess is far from young but she’s first of all a countess, then a lady, the daughter ditto. 1r:4
And it makes sense for you to go, since I can’t be sure that the family’s staying in the same place this year (however, they’ve been coming there for several years, and Perruchotmust know their address in town).4 Perhaps I’m deluding myself — but I can’t help thinking of them, and perhaps it will be a pleasure for them and for you too, if you meet them.
Listen — I’ll do all I can to send you some new drawings for Dordrecht.
To Theo. Arles, on or about Sunday, 20 May 1888
Painting, Oil on Canvas
Nuenen: February, 1885
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New York, United States of America, North America
F: 365r, JH: 654