Vincent van Gogh’s Last Letter to Theo

by Catherine Chiu

[Auvers, late July 1890]

My dear brother,

Thanks for your kind letter and for the 50 fr. note in contained. . . Since the thing that matters most is going well, why should I say more about things of less importance; my word, before we have a chance of talking business more collectedly, there is likely to be a long way to go. . .

The other painters, whatever they think of it, instinctively keep themselves at a distance from discussions about actual trade.

Well, the truth is, we can only make our pictures speak. But still, my dear brother, there is this that I have always told you, and I repeat it once more with all the earnestness that can be imparted by an effort of a mind diligently fixed on trying to do as well as one can —  I tell you again that I shall always consider that you are something other than a simple dealer in Corot, that through my mediation you have your part in the actual production of some canvases, which even in the cataclysm retain their quietude.

For this is what we have got to, and this is all or at least the chief thing that I can have to tell you at a moment of comparative crisis. At a moment when things are very strained between dealers in pictures by dead artists, and living artists.

Well, my own work, I am risking my life for it and my reason has half-foundered owing to it — that’s all right — but you are not among the dealers in men so far as I know, and you can choose your side, I think, acting with true humanity, but what’s the use?



[This letter, evidently his penultimate one to Theo, was found on Vincent’s body after his suicide on the 27th. Several sentences dealing with the state of Theo’s business are omitted.]