Maddening Money Matters – Excerpt from The Murder of Vincent van Gogh

“[Gauguin] created a life for public consumption as part of his campaign to make his exhibitions – and therefore his future – a success.” ― Nancy Mowll Mathews

There was one thing, and only one, besides them both being artists, that Vincent and Gauguin had in common. They both had money difficulties. In a way, Vincent had an easier career, given the almost uninterrupted patronage of his brother. For Gauguin it was much tougher, especially since he came from privilege, even worked as stockbroker, and then suddenly had to deal with the effacement of poverty.

Gauguin did sell some of his works, including three pictures in 1888, but overall, he only became popular and successful after his death. I have already mentioned Gauguin was bitter, suffering with advanced syphilis and penniless at the time of his death, so much so he was driven to attempt suicide. The question is, was Vincent similarly twisted and tortured by the rigours of failure and moneylessness?

Although Vincent didn’t have it easy, the main difference with Gauguin was that Vincent had been struggling for far longer. He was used to it. He was a self-effacing kind of guy. One might even go so far as to say martyrdom was a default setting for Vincent. Is there any artist who worked as hard, or as long, for his art as this one?

In a December 2014 article published in Vanity Fair, the word “martyr” is mentioned four times. These instances are worth close and careful study:

…The chief purveyor of the suicide narrative was Van Gogh’s fellow artist Émile Bernard, who wrote the earliest version of artistic self-martyrdom in a letter to a critic whose favor he was currying… Boosted by the gripping tale of his final act of martyrdom, Van Gogh’s celebrity took off like a rocket…[Ultimately]Vincent chose to protect them as a final act of martyrdom.

The article ends with a quote from the curator of the Van Gogh Museum no less, saying that what happened to Van Gogh is “self-evident”:

“Vincent’s suicide has become the grand finale of the story of the martyr for art, it’s his crown of thorns.”

One could also argue that Vincent chose struggle and hardship [in the same way that he volunteered for treatment at Saint-Rémy], while Gauguin did his best [or is it worst] to avoid these hardships. One artist avoids effacement like the plague, the other is self-effacing to the point of martyrdom.  But if this is true, then Vincent was a lot more resilient in life than he’s given credit for. Well, resilient people don’t kill themselves.

Money forms an important backdrop to the ear incident, the shooting in Auvers and our new theory of resilience. We know how fraught the financial situation was leading up to that fateful Christmas in 1888. We’re less clear on how money played into the dynamics eighteen months later, or indeed, for the decades following his death.

Since we are dealing with the world’s most valuable artist, with canvases that today are worth tens of millions, it’s vital we investigate both ends of this spectrum – how Vincent dealt with having no money, and how and why the world decided he should be worth more than any other artist. Was he really a martyr, in the absolute sense, he’s been made out to be?

 

There seems to me to be the same inversion at work here, where the madder and more troubled the artist, the more valuable his work [as it applies to Vincent van Gogh]. The mirror provided by interminable financial struggle reflects his obsessive commitment and mad frustration. The poorer he was, the greater the struggle, the more valuable, and valiant, his efforts. Conversely, if Vincent was less mad, less of a martyr, and not quite as deprived as he’s depicted, then his story is less inspiring and his art “self-evidently” less impressive, and less valuable.

Now let’s test the authenticity, and the portent, of the money narrative.

A Peek inside the Purse

More than half of Vincent’s correspondence to Theo contains references to the word “money”. A handy tool in the webexhibits archive, allows one to track the instances money comes up in their correspondence. It comes up in 372 letters. At a glance one can see that…

The Murder of Vincent van Gogh is available for purchase here.

If Vincent van Gogh didn’t cut off his ear, who did?

24sun3web-master768Some people reckon Vincent van Gogh was the original king of selfies. In Paris, in 1886 he did around eleven self-portraits, the following year [still in Paris], he churned out another seventeen. In Arles, in 1888 and early 1889, he produced just five, two of them with the famous bandage around his severed left ear.

Over the next year, while in the asylum at Saint-Rémy, his selfie output dropped even further, to just three. This is strange, because if there was a time for introspection, it was during those interminable months alone in the madhouse. But unhappy people, like unhappy artists, tend to be camera shy, not so? In the final two months of Vincent’s life, in Arles, he didn’t paint a single self-portrait either. But what does all this have to do with severed ears?

500x0Given the controversy surrounding “the ear incident”, Van Gogh’s 35-or-so self portraits are a valuable archive. Does he paint the side of his face missing the ear after December 1888? Does he see himself as mad? What is he saying?

When we examine the two self-portraits painted within days of losing his ear, we notice a few things different about them. For one, he’s wearing strange headgear – a blue beret – in both post severed ear selfies. In all his self-portraits, there are about eleven where he depicts himself wearing a hat of some kind, in other words, a hat features in a third of of his self-portraits. The hats are invariably yellow straw hats, used by the artist when he was outdoors as a sun shield.

All the Arles selfies are drawn showing Van Gogh’s left side, while all of those painted afterwards [just three], in Saint-Rémy, are painted from the right.

In The Murder of Vincent van Gogh I go into a lot more detail about the circumstances and psychology of Van Gogh leading to the ear incident at Arles, and the aftermath. I won’t be doing much of that here. What I want to highlight here is one fairly obvious fact, and it has to do with Vincent’s housemate in the Yellow House, for just on two months in Arles – Paul Gauguin.

Gauguin_by_Mucha

The whole scenario of the two artists who don’t know each other, suddenly living with one another cheek by jowl in a foreign city, reminds me of Meredith Kercher and Amanda Knox in Perugia. And look how that ended. Kercher was stabbed to death in the throat of her own room, and Knox emerged as a suspect, but ultimately dodged being found guilty of Kercher’s murder.

The time scale is also similiar;  just as Kercher had spent several weeks in Perugia settling down and getting orientated before Knox pitched up, Van Gogh did the same in Arles. Then Knox arrived and within about six weeks Kercher was dead, and the entire villa [a bloodbath] had to be abandoned by everyone. The same happened to the Yellow House. The main difference is Knox wasn’t allowed to leave, while Paul Gauguin did, two days after the ear incident.

The mainstream narrative holds that Van Gogh cut off his own ear. There’s been some uncertainty about how much ear – the whole ear [meaning he was very mad], a piece of ear [meaning he wasn’t so mad], or someone else carved off the ear with a rapier [meaning he wasn’t mad at all, just horrible to live with].

How mad was #VincentvanGogh?

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The best source for what really happened to Van Gogh’s ear, however, is Van Gogh himself. He does write about it, but once again, I dealt with that in detail in The Murder of Vincent van Gogh, including the latest historical evidence related to the ear narrative.

What I will say is there’s a strange arrangement between Gauguin and Van Gogh after the incident, where both artists sort of agree not to talk about it [Gauguin doesn’t honor the agreement and goes behind Van Gogh’s back, telling everyone who will listen what a lunatic his former housemate is…]

There’s also the issue where Gauguin exits the Yellow House and bugs out to Paris taking two of Van Gogh’s most prized paintings – his depictions of sunflowers. [One would later be auctioned for tens of millions of dollars, a new world record in its time, eclipsing the previous record by a factor of 4]. Van Gogh was clearly pissed off by this, which is why he wrote to Gauguin asking for them back, and bitching to Theo about the whole deal. So there’s lots of intrigue, but for the purposes of this post, I want to focus on those self-portraits painted just after the ear incident. It couldn’t have been fun; it was mid-winter and the wound under those bandages was probably still throbbing and oozing blood. An artery had been severed near the top of the pinna, which almost caused the artist to bleed to death.

It all seems to be in the eyes, doesn’t it? In the left image, notice how the horizon between red and orange actually directs the viewer to the line of Van Gogh’s eyes, as does the smoke from his pipe. The smoke over the crimson background also seems to be suggesting “things aren’t always what they seem.”

A quote from my latest book The Murder of Vincent van Gogh.

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But look closer at the other portrait, and there’s a suggestion in the Japanense picture at the rear, that she is pointing towards the eyes.

P-1948-SC-175-tif-10587-e1468233592690

At this scale it’s clear it’s not the hand or fingers of the Japanese lady at all, but the open beak of bird, perhaps a stalk, crying out in the direction of Van Gogh’s blazing green eyeball. And that’s the other thing – the green.

Going through Van Gogh’s self-portraits, these two have an abundance of green, don’t they. Van Gogh’s actually clothed in it, even the wall behind him and his face, in the second image, is green.

five-color-idioms-part-3-green-voxy-green-with-envy

Could all that green, even the green in the eye of the beholder, have anything to do with that expression: being green with envy? And yes, the English idiom translates to Dutch.*

Er zit iets zwarts in het groen van je oog.///There’s something black in the green part of your eye

Remember, these were two artists living side by side and clearly, not getting along. Van Gogh said as much in his letters to Theo, and Gauguin made no bones about it either.

Did Gauguin and #VincentvanGogh get along in the Yellow House?

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So the two artists didn’t get along because Vincent was mad, or was Gauguin mad [angry] because of…well, envy? I’m not the only one casting these aspersions, though…

What pray tell did Gauguin have to be envious about? Well, Van Gogh’s motivation for one. He felt it was becoming a competition, and certainly outputwise, and on the spectrum of inspiration, Van Gogh was streets ahead. Van Gogh also had a patron, in his brother, who basically paid his brother’s way so he could paint to his heart’s content. Interestingly, Gauguin arrived in Arles as another sponsored artist, sponsored by Theo, but falling short perhaps in their eyes, and who knows, perhaps his own too.

Much of this has a mirror dimension in the Meredith Kercher/Amanda Knox case. There has been speculation that Knox was jealous of Kercher, who was a more likable and attractive girl, more settled, more socialized, and had the lion’s share of friends and if she wanted, boyfriends. Knox was later the prime suspect in Kercher’s murder, but was at pains to argue that she and Meredith had been friends to the end. Like Gauguin, Knox wasn’t at home but sleeping somewhere else when the incident in question happened, and both were the “last to know” something had happened.

Here’s the mainstream depiction of Van Gogh cutting off his own ear. It’s preceded, of course, with a row with Gauguin. In Gauguin’s version of events Vincent actually approached him with a razor. Gauguin merely turned around, looked at Vincent, prompting Van Gogh to turn tail, run home and cut off his ear. But does that really ring true?

While researching The Murder of Vincent van Gogh it was easy to get caught up and distracted in the various versions of Van Gogh. In the above depiction the filmmakers seem to have forgotten the events took place just before Christmas in 1888; midwinter in Arles, and a miserable period otherwise, when the Mistral blows through the twisting streets like nobody’s business. So there is no way Van Gogh would be walking around without a shirt on.

Over the past 130 years, there have been countless versions of the ear incident; from art historians, biographers and documentary filmmakers to journalists and authors – everyone has a theory. None of these folks are true crime aficionados though, and none of them are approaching these incidents [the gouged ear and the his death] as criminal incidents. Why not? The French police arrived on the scene on both occasions precisely because a man’s blood was spilled. And even in suicide, it’s important to establish a motive for murder; the murder of the self is still murder, there’s still a motive.

Turning to those self-portraits, what does Van Gogh say about the whole deal? What does he say beyond a look in the eye?

Incredibly, earlier that same month, December 1888, the month of the ear incident, Van Gogh painted two chairs; one symbolizing himself, the other symbolizing Gauguin. This is not in dispute. Van Gogh’s chair is modest, simple and plain [like the man], Gauguin’s is sort of lavish, earthy and has an exotic feel about it. Van Gogh’s chair feels like yellow straw, much of it has a golden vibe about it, Gauguin’s chair [and the wall behind it] is a rich green. It’s important to see the original colors of these art works, because after more than a century, the colors have faded, concealing the original intent, the original code, embedded in the paintings.

Now it’s important to note, the chairs were painted in December before the ear incident, and both chairs were emblematic of the artists. Look at how green Gauguin’s chair is. The seat is a puffy cushion in rich green and gold lint. Behind the chair is a forest green wall.

When Van Gogh painted a portrait of Gauguin, he also used green [on his coat, and the wall] to personify Gauguin. He also has Gauguin turned away from him, preoccupied with his own thoughts, his own world…

Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Paul_Gauguin_(Man_in_a_Red_Beret)

Now look at the self-portraits after the ear incident. For the first time in any of his portraits, Van Gogh is clothed in a really thick, green coat. Look closer and the green coat has specks of gold in it. Van Gogh may have agreed with Gauguin, in their letters, not to talk of the incident, but the self-portraits, when the emotions were still running high, speak volumes. The injured Van Gogh looks out, but how much of his green eyes are Van Gogh’s eyes, and how much are they a reflected green [off the room, and his coat]. In other words, he’s not only clothed in Gauguin’s envy, but how the world sees him, is through Gauguin’s disparaging [and envious] eyes…

If these contentions are true, if Van Gogh didn’t cut off his own ear, if Gauguin sliced it off with one of his swords, then we have to ask: was Van Gogh as mad as he’s been made out to be? Was he even mad to begin with? And if he wasn’t mad, was he suicidal?

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Unfortunately the clip above cuts off before Van Gogh [played by Andy Serkis] refers to being driven to the heights of his art, by his illness. What did he mean by “illness”? Madness, or something else?

The Murder of Vincent van Gogh is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited at this link.

Van Gogh Murder Final

*Van Gogh was a bookworm, and wrote to Theo about enjoying Shakespeare. The “green with envy” idiom originates from Shakespeare’s Othello, a work Van Gogh was undoubtedly familiar with.

 “Beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.”

 

3 weeks after supposedly sawing off his own ear, Vincent van Gogh wrote this letter…

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Arles, 17 January 1889

My dear Theo,

Thanks for your kind letter and also for the 50-franc note it contained. Even though you yourself might be able to answer all the questions at the moment, I do not feel capable of it. I want very much, after consideration, to find some solution, but I must read your letter again, etc.

But, before discussing what I might spend or not spend during a complete year, it might help us to go into the expenses of the current month alone.

It has been altogether lamentable in every way, and I should certainly count myself lucky, if at last you would give some serious attention to the way things are now and have been for a long time.

But what is to be done? It is unfortunately complicated by lots of things, my pictures are valueless, they cost me, it is true, an extraordinary amount, even in blood and brains at times perhaps. I won’t harp on it, and what am I to say to you about it?

Meanwhile, let’s get back to the present month and not talk of anything but money.

On December 23 I still had in hand one louis and 3 sous. The same day I received from you the 100-franc note.

These are the expenses:

Given to Roulin to pay the charwoman for the month of December 20 frs.

The same for the first fortnight in January 10 frs.

Paid to the hospital 21 frs.

Paid to the attendants who dressed the wound 10 frs.

On my return paid for a table, a gas heater, etc, which had been lent me and which I had taken on account 20 frs.

Paid for having all the bedding washed, the bloodstained linen, etc. 12.50 frs.

Various purchases like a dozen brushes, a hat, etc., etc., say 10 frs.

So on the day or the day after I came out of the hospital, we have already arrived at a forced expenditure on my part of 103.50 francs, to which must be added that on that first day I had a joyous dinner with Roulin at the restaurant, quite cheerful and with no dread of renewed suffering.

In short, the result of all this was that by the 8th I was broke. But a day or two later I borrowed 5 francs. That barely takes us to the 10th. I hoped for a letter from you about the 10th, but, this letter did not arrive till today, January 17th, the time between has been a most rigorous fast, the more painful because I cannot recover under such conditions.

I have nevertheless started work again, and I already have three studies in the studio, besides the portrait of Dr. Rey, which I gave him as a keepsake. So there is no worse harm done this time than a little more suffering and its attendant wretchedness. And I keep on hoping. But I feel weak and rather uneasy and frightened. That will pass, I hope, as I get back my strength.

Rey told me that being very impressionable was enough to account for the attack that I had, and that I was really only anaemic, but that I really must feed myself up. But I took the liberty of saying to M. Rey that if the first thing for me was to get back my strength, and if by pure chance or misunderstanding it had just happened that I had had to keep a strict fast for a week – whether he had seen many madman in similar circumstances fairly quiet and able to work; if not, would he then be good enough to remember occasionally that for the moment I am not yet mad.

Now considering that all the house was upset by this occurrence, and all the linen and my clothes soiled, is there anything improper or extravagant or exorbitant in these payments? If I paid what was owing to people almost as poor as myself as soon as I got back, did I do wrong, or could I have been more economical? Now today on the seventeenth I at last received 50 francs. Out of that I am paying first the five francs borrowed from the patron at the café and the ten meals taken on credit during the course of last week, which makes 7.50 francs.

I also have to pay for the linen brought back from the hospital and then for this last week, and for shoe repairs and a pair of trousers, certainly altogether something like 5 frs.

Wood and coal owing for December and to be bought again, not less than 4 frs.

Charwoman, 2nd fortnight in January 10 frs.

______

26.50 frs.

Net amount left me tomorrow morning after settling this bill 23.50 frs.

It is now the seventeenth, there are still thirteen days to go.

Ask yourself how much I can spend in a day? I have to add that you sent 30 francs to Roulin, out of which he paid the 21.50 rent for December.

There, my dear boy, are the accounts for this present month. It is not over.

Now we come to the expenses caused you by Gauguin’s telegram, which I have already expressly reproached him for sending.

Are the expenses thus mistakenly incurred less than 200 francs? Does Gauguin himself claim that it was a brilliant step to take? Look here, I won’t say more about the absurdity of this measure, suppose that I was as wild as anything, then why wasn’t our illustrious partner more collected?

But I shan’t press that point.

I cannot commend you enough for paying Gauguin in such a way that he can only congratulate himself on any dealings he has had with us. Unfortunately there again is another expenditure perhaps greater than it should have been, yet I catch a glimpse of hope in it. Must he not, or at least should he not, begin to see that we were not exploiting him, but on the contrary were anxious to secure him a living, the possibility of work and…and…of decency?

If that does not obtain the heights of the grandiose prospectuses for the association of artists which he proposed, and you know how he clings to it, if it does not attain the heights of his other castles in the air – then why not consider him as not responsible for the trouble and waste which his blindness may have caused both you and me?

If at present this theory seems too bold to you, I do not insist on it, but we shall see.

He has had experience in what he calls “banking in Paris” and thinks himself clever at it. Perhaps you and I are not curious at all in this respect.

In any case this is not altogether in contradiction with some passages in our previous correspondence.

If Gauguin stayed in Paris for a while to examine himself thoroughly, or have himself examined by a specialist, I don’t honestly know what the result might be.

On various occasions I have seen him do things which you and I would not let ourselves do, because we have consciences that feel differently about things. I have heard one or two things said of him, but having seen him at very, very close quarters, I think that he is carried away by his imagination, perhaps by pride, but…practically irresponsible.

This conclusion does not imply that I advise you to pay very much attention to what he says on any occasion. But I see that you have acted with higher ideals in the matter of settling his bill, and so I think that we need not fear that he will involve us in the errors of the “Bank of Paris.”

But as for him…Lord, let him do anything he wants, let him have his independence?? (whatever he means by that) and his opinions, and let him go his own way as soon as he thinks he knows it better than we do.

I think it is rather strange that he claims a picture of sunflowers from me, offering me in exchange, I suppose, or as a gift, some studies he left here. I will send him back his studies which will probably be useful to him, which they certainly won’t be to me.

But for the moment I am keeping my canvases here and I am definitely keeping my sunflowers in question.

He has two of them already, let that hold him.

And if he is not satisfied with the exchange he has made with me, he can take back his little Martinique canvas, and his self-portrait sent me from Brittany, at the same time giving me back both my portrait and the two sunflower canvases which he has taken to Paris. So if he ever broaches this subject again, I’ve told you just how matters stand.

How can Gauguin pretend that he was afraid of upsetting me by his presence, when he can hardly deny that he knew I kept asking for him continually, and that he was told over and over again that I insisted on seeing him at once.

Just to tell him that we should keep it between him and me, without upsetting you. He would not listen.

It worries me to go over all this and recapitulate such things over and over again.

In this letter I have tried to show you the difference between my net expenses, directly my own, and those for which I am less responsible.

I have been miserable because just at this moment you have had this expense, which did no one any good.

Whatever happens, I shall see my strength come back little by little if I can stick it out here. I do so dread a change or move just because of the fresh expense. I have been unable to get a breathing spell for a long time now. I am not giving up work, because there are moments when it is really getting on, and I believe that with patience the goal will at last be reached, that the pictures will pay back the money invested in making them.

Roulin is about to leave, as early as the 21st. He is to be employed in Marseilles. The increase in pay is microscopic, and he will be obliged to leave his wife and children for a time; they will not be able to follow him till much later, because the expenses of a whole family will be heavier in Marseilles.

It is a promotion for him, but it is a poor consolation that the Government gives such an employee after so many years work.

And in point of fact, I believe that both he and his wife are heart broken. Roulin has often kept me company during the last week. I quite agree with you that we mustn’t meddle with medical questions, which do not at all concern us. Just because you wrote a line to M. Rey saying that you would give him introductions in Paris, I understood you to mean Rivet. I did not think I was doing anything to compromise you by telling M. Rey that if he went to Paris, I’d be pleased if he took a picture to M. Rivet as a keepsake from me.

Of course I did not mention anything else, but what I did say was that I myself should always regret not being a doctor, and that those who think painting is beautiful would do well to see nothing in it but a study of nature.

It will always be a pity, in spite of everything, that Gauguin and I were perhaps too quick to give up the question of Rembrandt and light which we had broached. Are De Haan and Isaäcson still there? Don’t let them get discouraged. After my illness my eyes have naturally been very sensitive. I have been looking at that “Croque-mort” [undertaker] of De Haans, which he was good enough to send me the photograph of. Well, it seems to me that there is a real touch of Rembrandt in that figure, which seems to be lit up by the reflection of a light coming from the open tomb in front of which the croque-mort is standing like a sleepwalker.

It is done with great subtlety. I myself do not try to get effects by means of charcoal, and De Haan has taken for his medium this very charcoal, again a colourless substance.

I should like De Haan to see a study of mine of a lighted candle and two novels (one yellow, the other pink) lying on an empty chair (really Gauguin’s chair), a size 30 canvas, in red and green. I have just been working again today on its pendant, my own empty chair, a white deal chair with a pipe and a tobacco pouch. In these two studies, as in others, I have tried for an effect of light by means of clear colour, probably De Haan would understand exactly what I was trying to get if you read to him what I have written on the subject.

Although this letter is already very long, since I have tried to analyse the month’s expenses and complained a bit of the queer phenomenon of Gauguin’s behaviour in choosing not to speak to me again and clearing out, there are still some things that I must add in praise of him.

One good quality he has is the marvellous way he can apportion [divide up and share] expenses from day to day.

While I am often absent-minded, preoccupied with aiming at the goal, he has far more money sense for each separate day than I have. But his weakness is that by a sudden freak or animal impulse he upsets everything he has arranged.

Now do you stay at your post once you have taken it, or do you desert it? I do not judge anyone in this, hoping not to be condemned myself in cases when my strength might fail me, but if Gauguin has so much real virtue, and such capacity for charity, how is he going to employ himself?

As for me, I have ceased to be able to follow his actions, and I give it up in silence, but with a questioning note all the same.

From time to time he and I have exchanged ideas about French art, and impressionism…

It seems to me impossible, or at least pretty improbable, that impressionism will organize and steady itself now.

Why shouldn’t what happened in England at the time of the Pre-Raphaelites happen here?

The union broke up.

Perhaps I take all these things too much to heart and perhaps they sadden me too much. Has Gauguin ever read Tartarin in the Alps, and does he remember Tartarin’s illustrious companion from Tarascon, who had such imagination that he imagined in a flash a complete imaginary Switzerland?

Does he remember the knot in a rope found high up in the Alps after the fall?

And you who want to know how things happened, have you read Tartarin all the way through? That will teach you to know your Gauguin pretty well.

I am really serious in urging you to look at this passage in Daudet’s book again.

At the time of your visit here, were you able to notice the study I painted of the Tarascon diligence, which as you know is mentioned in Tartarin the lion hunter?

And can you remember Bompard in Numa Roumestan and his happy imagination?

That is what it is, though in another way. Gauguin has a fine, free and absolutely complete imaginary conception of the South, and with that imagination he is going to work in the North! My word, we may see some queer results yet.

And now, dissecting the situation in all boldness, there is nothing to prevent our seeing him as the little Bonaparte tiger of impressionism as far as…I don’t quite know how to say it, his vanishing, say, from Arles would be comparable or analogous to the return from Egypt of the aforesaid Little Corporal, who also presented himself in Paris afterward and who always left the armies in the lurch.

Fortunately Gauguin and I and other painters are not yet armed with machine guns and other very destructive implements of war. I for one am quite decided to go on being armed with nothing but my brush and my pen.

But with a good deal of clatter, Gauguin has nonetheless demanded in his last letter “his masks and fencing gloves” hidden in the little closet in my little yellow house.

I shall hasten to send him his toys by parcel post. Hoping that he will never use more serious weapons.

He is physically stronger than we are, so his passions must be much stronger than ours. Then he is a father, he has a wife and children in Denmark, and at the same time he wants to go to the other end of the earth, to Martinique. It is frightful, all the welter of incompatible desires and needs which this must cause them. I took the liberty of assuring him that if he had kept quiet here with us, working here at Arles without wasting money, and earning, since you were looking after his pictures, his wife would certainly have written to him, and would have approved of his stability. There is more besides; he had been in pain and seriously ill, and the thing was to discover the disease and the remedy. Now here his pains had already ceased.

That’s enough for today. If you have the address of Laval, Gauguin’s friend, you can tell Laval that I am very much surprised that his friend Gauguin did not take a portrait of myself, which I had intended for him, away with him to be handed over. I have another new one for you too.

Thank you again for your letter, please do try to realise that it will be really impossible to live thirteen days on the 23.50 francs which I shall have left; if you could send 20 francs next week, I would try to manage.

With a handshake, I will read your letter again and will write you soon about the other things.

Yours, Vincent