Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles, 15 July 1888
Painted with Words is a compelling look at Vincent van Gogh's correspondence to his young colleague Émile Bernard between 1887 and 1889. Van Gogh's words and sketches reveal his thoughts about art and life and communicate his groundbreaking work in Arles to his fellow painter.
Van Gogh's letters to Bernard reveal the tenor of their relationship. Van Gogh assumed the role of an older, wiser brother, offering praise or criticism of Bernard's paintings, drawings, and poems. At the same time the letters chronicle van Gogh's own struggles, as he reached his artistic maturity in isolation in Arles and St. Rémy. Throughout the letters are no less than twelve sketches by van Gogh meant to provide Bernard with an idea of his work in progress, including studies related to the paintings The Langlois Bridge, Houses at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Boats on the beach at Saintes-Maries, The Sower, and View of Arles at Sunset.
I've already written to him about that, anyway. But we're working on something that leaves us absolutely without a sou.
The fact is that Gauguin—who has been very ill—is probably going to spend the coming winter with me here in the south. And there's the fare, which is worrying us. Once here, well, two together spend less than one alone. All the more reason why I should like to have some things by you here. Once Gauguin's here, we'll try to do something together in Marseille, and will probably exhibit there. Now I'd like to have some things by you, too, although without making you lose opportunities for selling in Paris. In any case, I don't believe I'm making you lose them by encouraging you to exchange sketches of painted studies between us. And as soon as I can, we'll do another piece of business as well, but am quite hard up now. What I'm convinced of is that if we exhibit in Marseille, sooner or later Gauguin and I will encourage you to join us.
Thomas bought Anquetin's study in the end—the peasant.
I shake your hand firmly, so long, and
© 2007 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Major support for Painted with Words: Vincent van Gogh's Letters to Émile Bernard and its accompanying catalogue was provided by the International Music and Art Foundation. Generous support was also provided by the Robert Lehman Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.