Purchase cataloguePainted 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.
The translations used in this presentation are from the catalogue for the exhibition: Vincent van Gogh
Painted with Words, The Letters to Émile Bernard and are reproduced by kind permission of the 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.
Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles, 18 March 1888, Letter 2, page 2
I regret that living here isn't as cheap as I'd hoped, and until now I haven't found a way of getting
by as easily as one could in Pont-Aven. I started out paying 5 francs and now I'm on 4 francs
a day. One would need to know the local patois, and know how to eat bouillabaisse and aioli, then
one would surely find an inexpensive family boardinghouse. Then if there were several of us, I'm
inclined to believe we would get more favorable terms. Perhaps there would be a real advantage in
emigrating to the south for many artists in love with sunshine and color. The Japanese may not be
making progress in their country, but there is no doubt that their art is being carried on in France.
At the top of this letter I am sending you a little sketch of a study that is preoccupying me as to
how to make something of it—sailors coming back with their sweethearts toward the town, which
projects the strange silhouette of its drawbridge against a huge yellow sun.
I have another study of the same drawbridge with a group of washerwomen. Shall be happy to
have a line from you to know what you're doing and where you're going to go. A very warm handshake
to you and the friends.