Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles, 1 October 1888, Letter 17, page 2
Thaw Collection, given in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr., 2007
nature you have to see in order to develop your talent as
a painter and colorist to its full extent. But that can be done only to the detriment of your poor
carcass, if your father does not make it possible for you to avoid becoming anemic or to catch
debilitating dysentery through lack of strengthening food before this African ordeal.
It's scarcely possible to make yourself strong over there, and if you go to a hot climate, I'm far
from saying you have to fatten yourself up beforehand, but I do say you have to pay attention to
your food for some time in advance. And I'm sticking to that, having found myself doing well here
on that regime, and the heat of Africa is something different again from that of Arles.
You'll emerge from this ordeal of your service much stronger, and strong enough for a whole
career as an artist or—broken.
© 2007 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam