Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles, 27 June 1888, Letter 9, page 2
Thaw Collection, given in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr., 2007
I have sent your drawing of the brothel to my brother, and I've asked him to buy something of yours.
If my brother can, he'll do it, because he knows very well that I must want to have you sell something.
If you wished, I would earmark for an exchange with you the head of a Zouave that I've painted.
But I won't speak about it unless I can have you sell something at the same time.
That would be in response to your attempt at a brothel. If we executed a brothel together, I'm sure
we would use the study of the Zouave as a character type in it. Ah, if several painters agreed to collaborate
on great things.
The art of the future might be able to show us examples of that. The thing is, for the paintings
that are needed now there would have to be several of us in order to cope with the material difficulties.
Well—alas—we're not at that point—the art of painting doesn't move as fast as literature.
Like yesterday, I'm writing to you this time in great haste, really worn out. And at this moment, too,
I'm not capable of drawing; the morning in the fields has tired me out completely in that capacity.
The thing is, it's tiring, the sun down here. I'm also utterly incapable of judging my own work. I can't
see whether the studies are good or bad. I have seven studies of wheat fields, unfortunately all of them
nothing but landscapes, much against my will. Old gold yellow landscapes—done quick quick quick and
in a hurry, like the reaper who is silent under the blazing sun, concentrating on getting the job done.
I tell myself that you may perhaps—be surprised to see how little I love the Bible myself, which
I have nevertheless often tried to study a little—there is only this kernel, Christ—who, from the
point of view of art, seems superior to me—at any rate something other—than Greek, Indian,
Egyptian, Persian antiquity, which went so far. Now I say it again—this Christ is more of an artist
than the artists—he works in living spirit and flesh, he makes men instead of statues, so . . . as a
painter I feel good being an ox . . . and I admire the bull, the eagle, the man, with a veneration—
which—will prevent my being a man of ambition.
© 2007 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam