Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles, 25 September 1888, Letter 16, page 4
Thaw Collection, given in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr., 2007
I'm not in any hurry for anything, now. Projects so often fall through, and
the best calculations you make; while by taking advantage of chance, and working from day to day
without bias, you do a whole lot of unforeseen things.
So in no way can I encourage you to come here with the express purpose—excellent, without
any doubt—of doing brothels. I repeat, once you're a soldier, you'll have a splendid opportunity for
that, and in your own interest you would perhaps do well to wait until you have your uniform.
But, my dear old Bernard, I want to be very clear and plain in saying to you, do come and
spend your time in Africa. The south will delight you and make you a great artist; Gauguin himself
owes his superiority to the south. I've been looking at the stronger sun down here for months
and months now. And the result is that, from the point of view of color, what remains more than
anything for me, having gained the experience, is Delacroix and Monticelli, those painters who
nowadays are wrongly said to be pure romantics, people of exaggerated imagination. But anyway,
do you see, the south, that was done so drily by Gérôme and Fromentin, is from this place on
essentially a region whose intimate charm could only be interpreted by a colorist's color. I hope
that you'll write to me again soon. I daren't take it upon myself to encourage just anyone to come
here; if somebody comes of his own accord, well, that's his business, but as far as advising the
thing, I'll never do it. For myself, I'm staying here, and naturally it would please me greatly if you
were to spend the winter here. Handshake.
© 2007 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam