Letter bbb - by Vincent van Gogh

Letter bbb - by Vincent van Gogh
Courtesy of www.VincentVanGogh.org

I have just started painting a recollection of the garden at Etten to put in my bedroom - here's a sketch of it. The canvas is quite a large one. These are the colors: the younger of the two women out walking is wearing a green and orange plaid shawl and carrying a red parasol; the old woman has a shawl that is violet-blue, almost black. But a bunch of dahlias, some lemon yellow, others in a mixture of pinks and whites, creates an explosion of color on this somber figure. Behind them, some cedar or cypress shrubs in emerald green. Behind the cypresses one can see a plot of pale green and red cabbages edged by a border of small white flowers. The sandy path is raw orange, the foliage of the two beds of scarlet geraniums is very green. And in the middle ground there's a servant girl dressed in blue, who is arranging plants covered in a profusion of white, pink, yellow, and vermilion red flowers. There we are - I know that it's hardly a true likeness, but for me it renders the poetic character and style of the garden as I feel them. But let's suppose that these ladies out walking are you and Mother - even supposing that there is no resemblance at all, not even the crudest or most fatuous - the deliberate choice of color, the somber violet with the fierce lemon stains of the dahlias, suggests Mother's personality to me.

The figure in the orange and green check plaid standing out against the somber green of the cypresses, the contrast heightened still further by the red parasol, this figure makes me think of you as a character in a novel by Dickens, a kind of figurative presence.

I have also painted a Novel Reader, with rich, deep black hair, a green bodice, purplish-red sleeves, and a black skirt; the background is entirely yellow, with bookshelves lined with books. She is holding a yellow book in her hands.