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Van Gogh on the South

From a letter dated September 7 or 8, 1889:

“My dear brother, you know that I came to the south and threw myself into work for a thousand reasons – looking for a different light, believing that observing nature under a brighter sky might give one a more accurate idea of the way the Japanese feel and draw. Wanting, finally, to see this stronger sun, because one has the feeling that unless one knows it one would not be able to understand the pictures of Delacroix, as far as execution and technique are concerned, and because one feels that the colours of the prism are veiled in the mists of the north…

“What an odd thing the touch, the stroke of the brush, is.

“In the open air, exposed to the wind, to the sun, to people’s curiosity, one works as best one can, one fills one’s canvas regardless. Yet that is how one captures the true and the essential – the most difficult part. But when, after some time, one resumes the study and alters the brushstrokes in keeping with the objects – the result is without doubt more harmonious and pleasant to look at, and one can add whatever serenity and happiness one feels.”
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