Letter 0009

Letter 0009: From Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh

London, 13 June 1873.

My address is c/o Messrs. Goupil & Co.,
17 Southampton Street,

You’re probably hoping to hear from me, so I won’t keep you waiting any longer for a letter.

I hear from home that you’re now staying with Mr. Schmidt, and that Pa has been to see you. I really hope that this will be more to your liking than your previous boardinghouse, and I'm sure it will be.

I am anxious to hear from you, so write to me soon and tell me how you have been spending your days. Tell me about any new paintings you have recently seen, and if any new lithographs or etchings have been published. You should keep me informed on this as I see little of those things here, as the firm here is only a stockroom.

I'm doing well considering the circumstances. I have found a boardinghouse that pleases me for now. There are three Germans in the house who love music, and they play the piano and sing which makes for pleasant evenings. I am not as busy as I was in The Hague as I am required to be in the office only from 9 in the morning until 6 in the evening, and on Saturdays we close at 4 o'clock. I live in one of the suburbs of London, and it is relatively quiet. it reminds me of Tillburg or some similar place.

The days I spent in Paris were quite pleasant and, as you may imagine, I really enjoyed the beautiful things I saw at the exhibition and the Louvre and the Luxembourg. The Paris branch is splendid, much larger than I had imagined. Especially the Place de l’Opéra.

Life here is very expensive. My boardinghouse alone cost me eighteen shillings a week, not including washing, and then I still have to eat in town.

Last Sunday I went to the country with Mr. Obach, my boss, to Box Hill, which is on a high hill about six hours from London, partially chalky and grown over with box and on one side a wood of tall oak trees. The countryside here is beautiful and quite different from Holland or Belgium. On Whitsun holiday I had an interesting trip with those Germans, but those gentlemen spend lot of money and I will not go with them again in the future.

I was glad to hear from Pa that Uncle Hein's health was good. Give him and Aunt my regards and let them know I am well. Send my hello also to Mr. Schmidt and Eduard, and write to me soon.

I wish you well.

From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: 13 June 1873
Place: London
Letter 0009
Translation © vangoghonline.com

Vincent was happy that Theo was now living with Mr. Schmidt, a manager at Goupil & Co. that Vincent felt would take Theo under his wing and help him in his position. In addition Theo had been living in less than desirable conditions. He was boarding with a minister, which had pleased his father, but the family had a sickly daughter and the home was depressing. Theo spent much time alone, in his attic room. Moving in with Mr. Schmidt was a vast improvement in his living conditions and life.

The Musée du Luxembourg closed in 1937 and much of its collection is now kept at the Musée d’Orsay, where you can also see many magnificent van Gogh paintings.

Place de l’Opéra was one of three Paris galleries of Goupil & Co.

When Vincent first arrived in London he earned £90 per year, the equivalent of 1,090 guilders. His mother told Theo in a letter that Vincent's lodging and midday meal cost 890 guilders per year, so he had to live very frugally.

Vincent went with Mr. Obach, his boss, and their family on a Sunday outing. Box Hill is southwest of London and the six hours Vincent refers to would be the time it would take to walk there.

Whitsun holiday is the name used in Great Britain and Ireland for the Christian festival of Pentecost, the seventh Sunday after Easter, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ's disciples. In 1883 it fell on Sunday, June 1 and Monday, June 2.