VINCENT VAN GOGH:
Excerpts from the Letters
I CANNOT WORK WITHOUT A MODEL
To Emile Bernard, Arles, first half of October 1888
I won't sign this study, for I never work from memory. There is some color in it
which will please you, but once again, I have painted a study for you which I
should have preferred not to paint.
I have mercilessly destroyed one important canvas - a "Christ with the
Angel in Gethsemane"--and another one representing the "Poet against a Starry
Sky"--in spite of the fact that the color was right-because the form had not been
studied beforehand from the model, which is necessary in such cases.
And I cannot Work without a model. I Won't say that I don't turn my
back on nature ruthlessly in order to turn a study into a picture, arranging the
colors, enlarging and simplifying; but in the matter of form I am too afraid of
departing from the possible and the true.
I don't mean I Won't do it after another ten years of painting studies, but,
to tell the honest truth, my attention is so fixed on what is possible and really
exists that I hardly have the desire or the courage to strive for the ideal as it might
result from my abstract studies.
Others may have more lucidity than I do in the matter of abstract studies,
and it is certainly possible that you are one of their number, Gauguin too _ _ . and
erha is I m self when I am old.
But in the meantime I am getting Well acquainted with nature. I
exaggerate, sometimes I make changes in a motif; but for all that, I do not invent
the Whole picture; on the contrary, I End it all ready in nature, only it must be