Letter 17, page 4

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Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles, 1 October 1888, Letter 17, page 4

Thaw Collection, given in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr., 2007

MA 6441.15

And now you'll perhaps tell me that I'm bloody well getting on your nerves with all that.

That you want to go to the brothel, and that you don't give a damn about all the rest. My word,
that depends, but I can't say other than that. Art is long and life is short, and we must wait patiently
while trying to sell our skin dearly. Me, I'd really like to be your age and go off with whatever
knowledge I had to do my service in Africa. But, for example, I'd surely get myself a better body
than the one I have. If Gauguin and I are here, as is probable, together—then here for certain we'll
do our level best to spare you expenses. But on his side, your father should certainly do his best
too, and have confidence in us that we're not trying to extract money from him pointlessly. But in
order to do good work you have to eat well, be well housed, have a screw from time to time, smoke
your pipe and drink your coffee in peace. I'm not saying that the rest counts for nothing, and leave
everyone free to do as he sees fit, but I do say that this system seems preferable to many others to
me. Good handshake.

Ever yours,

© 2007 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam