Van Gogh’s Letter to John Peter Russell (1890)

To John Peter Russell. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Saturday, 1 February 1890.

vangogh-Garden-of-the-AsylumMy dear friend Russell

Today I’m sending you a little roll of photographs after Millet which perhaps you may not know.

In any event, it’s to recall us, my brother and myself, to your good memory. Do you know that my brother has since married and that any day now he’s expecting his first-born? May it go well – he has a very nice Dutch wife.

How it pleases me to write to you after a long silence. Do you remember the time when, almost simultaneously, you I think first and I afterwards, met our friend Gauguin? He’s still struggling on – and alone, or almost alone, like the good fellow he is. Am sure, though, that you don’t forget him.

He and I are still friends, I can assure you, but perhaps you’re not unaware that I myself am ill, and have more than once had serious nervous crises and delirium. This was why, having had to go into an asylum for the insane, he and I separated. But prior to that, how many times we talked about you together! Gauguin is currently still with one of my fellow-countrymen called De Haan, and De Haan praises him a great deal and doesn’t find it at all bad to be with him.

You will find article on canvases of mine at the Vingtistes, I assure you that I myself owe a lot to things that Gauguin told me as regards drawing, and hold his way of loving nature in high, very high esteem. For in my opinion he’s worth even more as a man than as an artist. Are things going well with you? And are you still working a lot?

Although being ill isn’t a cause for joy, I nevertheless have no right to complain about it, for it seems to me that nature sees to it that illness is a means of getting us back on our feet, of healing us, rather than an absolute evil.

If you ever come to Paris,  take one of my canvases from my brother’s place if you wish, if you still have the idea of making a collection for your native country one day. You’ll remember that I’ve already spoken to you about it, that it was my great desire to give you one for this purpose. How is our friend MacKnight? If he’s still with you, or if there are others with you whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, give them my warm regards. Above all, please remember me to Mrs Russell and believe me, with a handshake in thought,

Yours truly,
Vincent van Gogh

c/o Doctor Peyron
St-Rémy en Provence.
*
Image Courtesy : http://bit.ly/Garden-of-the-Asylum
Thanks to : vangoghletters.org & Van Gogh Museum (+)

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