Letters 0004

Letter 0004: From Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh

The Hague, 28 Jan. 1873

My dear Theo,
It is good that you have answered me so soon, and I'm glad you've made it and found the guesthouse to your liking. Keep your courage as it is sometimes difficult in the beginning, but everything will come out alright and nobody can do in the beginning what he would like.

I feel sorrow for Uncle Hein, I hope so very much that he will be better, but Theo, I fear that he will not. Last summer he was so full of ambition, and had so many plans and told me that things were going so well. It is sad.

Last Sunday I was at Uncle Cor's and had a very pleasant day and saw a lot of beautiful things. As you know Uncle has recently been to Paris and has brought back beautiful paintings and drawings. Monday morning I stayed in Amsterdam and once again went to the museums. You know that Amsterdam will make a big new building in place of the Trippenhuis, which I think is best, as Trippenhuis is too small and many paintings hang so that they can not be seen very well.

What I would like to see is that painting by Cluysenaar, I've only seen a few of his paintings and I find them very beautiful. Write and tell me what that other painting is of Alfred Stevens, or what his first name is. Rotta I know by a photograph and even have seen the painting at the exhibition in Brussels. Keep me constantly informed of what you see, it gives me pleasure to hear it. The album title that you gave me isn't the correct one; the correct one is only lithographs of Corot. But I thank you for taking the trouble.

I am waiting for a letter from Anna, but she is rather lazy writing lately. You ought to surprise her with a letter, that would cause her much pleasure. You must be very busy though, but that is good.

It's cold here and people are already skating on the flooded fields. I walk as much as I can. I'm curious if you'll find an opportunity to once again go skating. Here is my portrait, but if you write home, say nothing of it. As you know it is for Pa's birthday, for which I congratulate you now.

My warm greetings to Uncle and Aunt, and also to Mr. Schmidt and Eduard.

Your always loving brother

All of the Haanebeeks, Aunt Fie's, and the Rooses' send best wishes.
Adieu, I wish you well.

From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Date: 28 January 1873
Place: The Hague
Letter 0004
Translation © vangoghonline.com

A year previously Uncle Hein had retired from art dealing due to bad health, but Cornelis Marinus van Gogh, or Uncle Cor, still operated a bookstore and an art gallery. When asking about the painting by Alfred Stevens Vincent underlined Alfred as the Belgian artist's brother Joseph was also a painter.

In the previous letter Vincent had asked Theo about an album of lithographs after Corot and it seems Theo had replied but with the title of an incorrect album.

Anna, the brother's eldest sister, was at boarding school and probably busy and not writing as much as Vincent would have preferred.

As for the photograph which Vincent planned as a gift to his father who was turning 51, it was also a gift to us, one of only two known, verified pictures of the artist. You can see it in letter 3, previous to this one.