VINCENT VAN GOGH:
Excerpts from the Letters
THE BEDROOM, 1888
To Theo, Arles, second half October 1888
This time it's just simply my bedroom, only here color is to do everything, and
giving by its simplification a grander style to things, is to be suggestive here of rest
or of sleep in general. In a word, looking at the picture ought to rest the brain,
or rather the imagination.
The walls are pale violet. The floor is of red tiles.
The wood of the bed and chairs is the yellow of fresh butter, the sheets
and pillows very light greenish-citron.
The coverlet scarlet. The window green.
The toilet table orange, the basin blue.
The doors lilac.
And that is all-there is nothing in this room with its closed shutters.
The broad lines of the furniture again must express inviolable rest.
Portraits on the walls, and a mirror and a towel and some clothes.
The frame--as there is no white in the picture-will be white.
This by way of revenge for the enforced rest I was obliged to take.
I shall work on it again all day, but you see how simple the conception is.
The shadows and the cast shadows are suppressed; it is painted in free flat tints like
the Japanese prints. It is going to be a contrast to, for instance, the Tarascon
diligence and the night cafe.
To Paul Gauguin, Arles, n.cl. [ca. October 1888]
I have done, still for my decoration, a size 30 canvas of my bedroom with the
white deal furniture that you know. Well, I enormously enjoyed doing this interior
of nothing at all, of a Seurat-like simplicity; with flat tints, but brushed on roughly,
with a thick impasto, the walls pale lilac, the ground a faded broken red, the
chairs and the bed chrome yellow, the pillows and the sheet a very pale green-
citron, the counterpane blood red, the washstand orange, the washbasin blue, the
window green. By means of all these very diverse tones I have wanted to express
an absolute restfulness, you see, and there is no white in it at all except the little
note produced by the mirror with its black frame (in order to get the fourth pair
of complementaries into it).
Well, you will see it along with the other things, and we will talk about
it, for I often don't know what I am doing when I am working almost like a