Winter is loosening its grip on Provence and the ancient Roman town of Arles where Vincent has lived for only a couple of months when he paints this canvas of pruned or pollard willows just before Springtime.
this is most likely one of the 12 studies referenced in Vincent’s letter to Theo in mid-March, 1888:
“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…. …12 studies altogether since I’ve been here.”
To Theo. Arles, on or about Friday, 16 March 1888
What do you say to the news that Kaiser Wilhelm
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
, Claude Monet
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, Guillaumin
&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,6
giving 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 Tersteeg
become the society’s expert members (with Portier
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
To Theo. Arles, Saturday, 10 March 1888
My dear Theo.
I’m writing to you again today because, when I wanted to pay my bill at the hotel where I’m staying, I realized once again that I was being fleeced there. I offered to come to some arrangement with them, they weren’t willing to, so when I wanted to take my things they prevented me.
That’s all very well, but then I told them we’d explain it all in front of the justice of the peace — who’ll perhaps say I’m in the wrong.1
Only now it means I have to keep enough money to pay in case it’s said that I’m in the wrong, 67.40 francs instead of the 40 francs I owe them. And that means I daren’t buy my mattress 1v:2
and I’ll also have to sleep at another hotel.2
So I wanted to ask you to put me in a position where I could buy my mattress anyway.
What often makes me sad is that it’s more expensive than I’d calculated. And that I don’t manage to get by on the same expenses as those who have gone to Brittany, Bernard
Since I’m feeling better now I really don’t consider myself defeated, and besides, if I’d had my health, which I hope to get back here, that and many other things wouldn’t happen to me.
The crate would have gone off already if I hadn’t had problems all day long. 1v:3
I say to myself you’ve still received none of my work and I’ve already spent so much money. I’m sending you now in the crate all the studies I have, apart from a few I destroyed,3
but I’m not signing them all, and there are a dozen that I’ve taken off their stretching frames and there are 14 on stretching frames.
To Theo. Arles, Monday, 7 May 1888
Painting, Oil on Cardboard – 31.5 x 34.5 Size 5 Carre’
Arles: February 27, 1888
Otterlo, The Netherlands, Europe
F: 572, JH: 1597