Letter 11/16/1878 - by Vincent van Gogh


There are old houses with ivy or Virginia creeper and charming inns, among the houses I noticed was that of a mustard-maker, one Verkissen. His place would be perfect for a painting by Thijs Maris, for example. There are places here and there where stones are found and therefore small quarries to which sunken roads with the deep ruts of cart tracks lead, where one sees small white horses with red tassels and drivers with blue smocks, and the shepherd is not lacking, nor old women in black with white caps reminiscent of those by Degroux. There are also places here - as there are everywhere, for that matter, thank God - where one feels at home more than elsewhere, where one gets a remarkable, familiar feeling like homesickness, which has something bitterly melancholy about it but which nevertheless strengthens and awakens the spirit in us and gives us new strength and appetite for work and stimulates us, we know not how or why. That day I walked on, past Forest, and took a side road to an old church overgrown with ivy. I saw many lime trees, even more entwined with one another and even more Gothic, so to speak, than those we saw in the park, and at the side of the sunken road leading to the cemetery twisted bushes and the roots of trees, as gnarled as those Diirer etched in 'Knight, Death and the Devil'. Have you ever seen a painting, or rather a photo of it, by Carlo Dolci, The Garden of Olives? There's something Rembrandtesque about it, saw it recently. You no doubt know the large, rough etching of the same subject after Rembrandt, being the pendant of the other, Reading the Bible, with those two women and the cradle. It came to mind after you told me that you had seen the painting by pere Corot of the same subject; I saw it at the exhibition of his work shortly after he died, and it moved me deeply.

How much there is in art that is beautiful, if only one can remember what one has seen, one is never empty or truly lonely, and never alone.

Adieu Theo, I shake your hand right heartily in thought, I wish you well, may you thrive in your work and encounter many good things on your path in life, such as stay in the memory and make us rich though we seemingly have nothing. If you see Borchers sometime, be so good as to tell him that I thank him very much for his letter of some time ago. If you go to Mauve's, give him my regards, and believe me.

Your loving brother