My dear Gauguin: Letters from Vincent Van Gogh to his friend Paul Gauguin

Updated: Apr 4


My dear Gauguin,

Thanks for your letter, and thanks most of all for your promise to come as early as the twentieth. Agreed, this reason that you give won’t help to make a pleasure trip of the train journey, and it’s only right that you should put off your journey until you can do it without it being a bloody nuisance. But that apart, I almost envy you this trip, which will show you, en passant, miles and miles of countryside of different kinds with autumn splendours.

I still have in my memory the feelings that the journey from Paris to Arles gave me this past winter. How I watched out to see ‘if it was like Japan yet’! Childish, isn’t it?

Look here, I wrote to you the other day that my vision was strangely tired. Well, I rested for two and a half days, and then I got back to work. But not yet daring to go outside, I did, for my decoration once again, a no. 30 canvas of my bedroom with the whitewood furniture that you know. Ah, well, it amused me enormously doing this bare interior.

With a simplicity à la Seurat.


In flat tints, but coarsely brushed in full impasto, the walls pale lilac, the floor in a broken and faded red, the chairs and the bed chrome yellow, the pillows and the sheet very pale lemon green, the blanket blood-red, the dressing-table orange, the washbasin blue, the window green. I had wished to express utter repose with all these very different tones, you see, among which the only white is the little note given by the mirror with a black frame (to cram in the fourth pair of complementaries as well).

Anyway, you’ll see it with the others, and we’ll talk about it. Because I often don’t know what I’m doing, working almost like a sleepwalker.

It’s beginning to get cold, especially on the days when the mistral blows.

I’ve had gas put in the studio, so that we’ll have good light in winter.

Perhaps you’ll be disillusioned with Arles if you come at a time when the mistral’s blowing, but wait... It’s in the long term that the poetry down here soaks in.

You won’t find the house as comfortable yet as we’ll gradually try to make it. There are so many expenses, and it can’t be done in one go. Anyway, I believe that once here, like me, you’ll be seized with a fury to paint the autumn effects, in between spells of the mistral. And that you’ll understand that I’ve insisted that you come now that there are some very beautiful days. Au revoir, then.


Ever yours,

Vincent