To Theo van Gogh
London, January 1874
My dear Theo,
Thanks for writing.
I sincerely wish you a very happy New Year. I know that things are going well for you in the office, because I heard as much from Mr Tersteeg. I saw from your letter that you have art in your blood, and that’s a good thing, old chap. I’m glad you like Millet, Jacque, Schreyer, Lambinet, Frans Hals &c., because – as Mauve says – ‘that’s it’. Yes, that painting by Millet ‘The evening angelus’, ‘that’s it’. That’s rich, that’s poetry. How I’d like to talk to you about art again, but now we can only write to each other about it often; find things beautiful as much as you can, most people find too little beautiful.
I’m writing below a few names of painters whom I like very much indeed. Scheffer, Delaroche, Hébert, Hamon.
Leys, Tissot, Lagye, Boughton, Millais, Thijs Maris, Degroux, De Braekeleer Jr.
Millet, Jules Breton, Feyen-Perrin, Eugène Feyen, Brion, Jundt, George Saal. Israëls, Anker, Knaus, Vautier, Jourdan, Jalabert, Antigna, Compte-Calix, Rochussen, Meissonier, Zamacois, Madrazo, Ziem, Boudin, Gérôme, Fromentin, De Tournemine, Pasini.
Decamps, Bonington, Diaz, T. Rousseau, Troyon, Dupré, Paul Huet, Corot, Schreyer, Jacque, Otto Weber, Daubigny, Wahlberg, Bernier, Emile Breton, Chenu, César de Cock, Mlle Collart. Bodmer, Koekkoek, Schelfhout, Weissenbruch, and last but not least Maris and Mauve.
But I could go on like this for I don’t know how long, and then come all the old ones, and I’m sure I’ve left out some of the best new ones.
Always continue walking a lot and loving nature, for that’s the real way to learn to understand art better and better. Painters understand nature and love it, and teach us to see.
And then, there are painters who make nothing but good things, who cannot make anything bad, just as there are ordinary people who cannot do anything that isn’t good.
Things are going well for me here, I have a wonderful home and it’s a great pleasure for me to observe London and the English way of life and the English themselves, and I also have nature and art and poetry, and if that isn’t enough, what is? Yet I haven’t forgotten Holland, and especially The Hague and Brabant.
We’re busy in the office, we’re occupied with the inventory, which is however drawn up in 5 days, so we have it a little easier than you do in The Hague.
I hope you had a nice Christmas, just as I did.
Well, old chap, I wish you well and write to me soon; in this letter I’ve written just what popped into my pen, I hope you’ll be able to understand it. Adieu, regards to everyone in the office and anyone else who asks after me, particularly everyone at Aunt Fie’s and the Haanebeeks’.
Herewith a few words for Mr Roos.