Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles, 19 June 1888, Letter 7, page 1
Sower with setting sun
Thaw Collection, given in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr., 2007
My dear Bernard,
Forgive me if I write in great haste; I fear that my letter won't be at all legible, but I want to reply to
you right away.
Do you know that we've been very foolish, Gauguin, you, and I, in not all going to the same
place? But when Gauguin left, I wasn't yet sure of being able to leave. And when you left, there was
that dreadful money for the fare, and the bad news I had to give about the expenses here, which
prevented it. If we had all left for here together it wouldn't have been so foolish, because the three
of us would have done our own housekeeping. And now that I've found my bearings a little more,
I'm beginning to see the advantages here. For myself, I'm in better health here than in the north—I
even work in the wheat fields at midday, in the full heat of the sun, without any shade whatever,
and there you are, I revel in it like a cicada. My God, if only I had known this country at twenty-five,
instead of coming here at thirty-five—In those days I was enthusiastic about gray, or rather,
absence of color. I was always dreaming about Millet, and then I had acquaintances in the category
of painters like Mauve, Israëls. Here's sketch of a sower.
Large field with clods of plowed earth, mostly downright violet.
Field of ripe wheat in a yellow ocher tone with a little crimson.
The chrome yellow 1 sky almost as bright as the sun itself, which is chrome yellow 1 with a
little white, while the rest of the sky is chrome yellow 1 and 2 mixed, very yellow, then.
The sower's smock is blue, and his trousers white. Square no. 25 canvas. There are many repetitions of yellow in the earth, neutral tones, resulting from the mixing of violet with yellow, but I
could hardly give a damn about the veracity of the color. Better to make naive almanac pictures—old
country almanacs, where hail, snow, rain, fine weather are represented in an utterly primitive way. The
way Anquetin got his Harvest so well.
I don't hide from you that I don't detest the countryside—having been brought up there, snatches
of memories from past times, yearnings for that infinite of which the sower, the sheaf, are the symbols,
still enchant me as before.
© 2007 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam