“I already wrote to you early this morning, then I went to continue working on a painting of a sunny garden. Then I brought it back — and went out again with a blank canvas and that’s done, too. And now I feel like writing to you again.”
To Theo van Gogh. Arles, Tuesday, 18 September 1888
But what scenery! It’s a public garden where I am, just near the street of the good little ladies, and Mourier
, for example, never went there, whereas we used to walk in these gardens almost every day, but on the other side (there are 3 of them).11
But you’ll understand that it’s precisely that which gives a je ne sais quoi
to the place.12
That side of the garden is also, for the same reason of chastity or morality, empty of flowering shrubs such as the oleander. It’s ordinary plane trees, pines in tall clumps, a weeping tree and green grass. But it has such intimacy! There are gardens like that by Monet
As long as you can bear the burden of all the colours, canvas, money that I’m forced to spend, keep on sending me them. Because what I’m preparing will be better than the last consignment, and believe that we’ll gain rather than lose by it. If, that is, I manage to do an ensemble that will hold together. Which I’m trying to do.
But is it absolutely impossible for Thomas
to lend me two or three hundred francs on my studies? That would mean that I would earn over a thousand from them, because I couldn’t tell you enough, I’m thrilled, thrilled, thrilled with what I see.
And that gives you yearnings for autumn
a zest that means that time passes without your feeling it. Beware the morning after, beware the winter mistrals.
Today, while actually working, I thought a lot about Bernard
. His letter is full of veneration for Gauguin
’s talent — he says that he finds him so great an artist that it almost frightens him, and he finds everything that he, Bernard, does, bad in comparison with Gauguin. And you know that last winter Bernard was still trying to pick a quarrel with Gauguin.14
Ah well, whatever the case, and whatever happens, it’s very consoling that those artists are our friends, and I dare to believe will remain so, no matter how things turn out.
I have such luck with the house — with work — that I even dare believe that blessings won’t come singly, but that you’ll share them for your part, and have good luck too. Some time ago I read an article on Dante
; my God, what an impression that made on me, reading those people’s letters!15 1r:4
Now Petrarch was just near here, in Avignon,16
and I see the same cypresses and oleanders.
I’ve tried to put something of that into one of the gardens, painted with thick impasto, lemon yellow and lemon green.17 Giotto
touched me the most — always suffering
and always full of kindness and ardour as if he were already living in a world other than this.18
It always seems to me that poetry is more terrible than painting, although painting is dirtier and more damned annoying, in fact. And after all, the painter says nothing; he keeps quiet, and I like that even better.
Painting, Oil on Canvas
Arles: September 17, 1888
Destroyed by fire in the Second World War
F: 471, JH: 1613