I have wanted to write about Van Gogh for a long time and I will certainly one fine day that I will be in the process: for the moment I will tell about him, or better said about us, certain things able to put an end to an error that has circulated in certain circles. Chance, surely, has meant that during my life several men who have frequented me and discussed with me have gone mad. The two Van Gogh brothers are in this case and some badly intentional, others naively attributed their folly to me. Certainly some may have more or less ascendancy over their friends, but it's a long way from there to causing madness. Long ago after the catastrophe, Vincent wrote to me from the nursing home where he was looked after. He was telling me: “How happy you are to be in Paris. It's still where they are the luminaries, and certainly you should consult a specialist for cure you of madness. Aren't we all?" The advice was good, that's why I didn't follow it, by contradiction no doubt. The readers of the _Mercure_ have been able to see in a letter from Vincent, published a few years ago, his insistence on making me come to Arles to found a workshop based on his idea, of which I would be the director. I was working at that time in Pont-Aven in Brittany and whether my started studies attached me to this place, either by a vague instinct I expected something abnormal, I resisted for a long time until the day when, overcome by Vincent's sincere outbursts of friendship, I got me started. I arrived in Arles at the end of the night and waited for dawn in a café by night. The boss looked at me and exclaimed, “You're the buddy; I you recognize." A portrait of me that I had sent to Vincent is enough to explain the exclamation of this boss. Showing him my portrait, Vincent had explained to him that it was a friend who was to come shortly. Neither too early nor too late, I went to wake Vincent. The day was devoted to my installation, to a lot of chatter, to walk to be able to admire the beauties of Arles and the Arlésiennes whom, incidentally, I could not make up my mind to be enthusiastic. The next day we were at work; him in continuation and me in new. I must tell you that I never had the facilities cerebral that others without torment find at the end of their brush. These disembark from the railway, take their palette and, in no time, you camp a sun effect. When it's dry goes to Luxembourg, and it's signed Carolus Duran. I don't admire the painting but I admire the man... Him so sure, so calm. Me so uncertain, so worried. In each country, I need an incubation period, to learn each times, the essence of plants, of trees, of all nature _finally_, if varied and so capricious, never wanting to be guessed and deliver. So I stayed for a few weeks before I clearly grasped the flavor harsh from Arles and its surroundings. Nevertheless, we worked hard, especially vincent. Between two beings, him and me, one all volcano and the other boiling too, but inside there was kind of a struggle who was getting ready. First of all I found in everything and for a whole mess which shocked. The color box was barely enough to hold all these squeezed tubes, never closed, and despite all this mess, all this mess, everything gleamed on the canvas; also in his words. Daudet, de Goncourt, the Bible burned that Dutch brain. In Arles, the quays, bridges and boats, the whole of the south became for him the Holland. He even forgot to write Dutch and as we could see through the publication of his letters to his brother, he never wrote only in French and that admirably with _tants que quant à_ à n'en no more finish. Despite all my efforts to manage in this messy brain a logical reason in his critical opinions, I could not explain everything what was contradictory between his painting and his opinions. Thus, for example, he had boundless admiration for Meissonier and a deep hatred for Ingres. Degas made his despair and Cézanne was just a smoker. Thinking of Monticelli he wept. One of his angers was being forced to recognize me as a great intelligence, while my forehead was too small, a sign of imbecility. In the midst of all this a great tenderness or rather a Gospel selflessness. From the first month I saw our finances in common take the same looks of disorder. How to do? the situation was delicate, the box being filled modestly by his brother employed in the house Goupil; for my part in combination of exchange in tables. To speak: he had to and come up against a very great susceptibility. It's not so that with a lot of precautions and many cuddly ways little compatible with my character that I approached the question. It's necessary admit it, I succeeded much more easily than I had imagined. In a box, both for night and hygienic walks, both for tobacco, so much also for impromptu expenses including rent. On all this a piece of paper and a pencil to honestly record what that everyone took from this box. In another box the rest of the sum divided into four parts for the expense of food each week. Our small restaurant was abolished and a small gas stove helping, I did the cooking while Vincent made the provisions, without going far from home. Once, however, Vincent wanted make a soup, but I don't know how he made his mixtures. Without a doubt like the colors in his paintings. Still, we couldn't eat it. And my Vincent laughed, exclaiming: “Tarascon! the cap to Father Daudet.” On the wall, with chalk, he wrote: I am Holy Spirit. I am sane. How long did we stay together? I would not know how to say it having totally forgotten about it. Despite the speed with which the disaster happened; despite the work fever that had overcome me, everything that time seemed like a century to me. Without the public suspecting it, two men did a job there colossal useful to both. Maybe to others? Some things are bearing fruit. Vincent, when I arrived in Arles, was in full the Neo-Impressionist school, and he floundered considerably, which made him suffer; not that this school, like all schools, be bad, but because it did not correspond to his nature, if little patient and so independent. With all its yellows on purples, all this complementary work, haphazard work on his part, he only succeeded in sweet harmonies incomplete and monotonous; the sound of the bugle was missing. I undertook the task of enlightening it, which was easy for me because I found a rich and fertile ground. Like all original natures and stamped with the seal of personality, Vincent had no fear of neighbor and no stubbornness. From that day my Van Gogh made astonishing progress; it seemed glimpse all that was in him and from there all this series of suns on suns, in full sun. Have you seen the portrait of the poet? Chrome yellow face and hair. The chrome yellow garment 2. The chrome yellow tie 3 with an emerald green emerald pin on a #4 chrome yellow background. This is what an Italian painter told me and he added: --Shit, shit, everything is yellow: I no longer know what it is pintoure. It would be idle here to go into technical details. That said to inform you that Van Gogh without losing an inch of its originality found a fruitful lesson from me. And every day it was to me grateful. And that's what he means when he writes to Mr. Aurier that he owes a lot to Paul Gauguin. When I arrived in Arles, Vincent was looking for himself, while I much older, I was a grown man. To Vincent I owe something thing is, with the awareness of having been useful to him, the strengthening of my previous pictorial ideas then in the difficult moments to remember that one finds more unhappy than oneself. When I read this passage: Gauguin's drawing is somewhat reminiscent of that of Van Gogh, I smile. In the last days of my stay, Vincent became excessively abrupt and noisy, then silent. A few evenings I surprised Vincent who got up approached my bed. To what do I attribute my awakening at this moment? Still, it was enough to tell him very seriously: "What's the matter, Vincent," so that, without saying a word, he got back into bed to sleep a heavy sleep. I had the idea of doing his portrait while painting the still life that he loved Sunflowers so much. And the finished portrait he says to me: "It's me, but I've gone mad." That same evening we went to the cafe. He took a light absinthe. Suddenly he threw his glass and the contents at my head. I avoided the suddenly and taking him round the body, I left the cafe, crossed the place Victor-Hugo and a few minutes later Vincent was on his bed where in a few seconds he fell asleep only to wake up morning. When he woke up, very calm, he said to me: "My dear Gauguin, I have a vague remember that I offended you last night. A.--I forgive you gladly and with a great heart, but yesterday's scene could happen again and if i was hit i might not be master of me and strangle you. So allow me to write to your brother to announce my return to school.” What a day, my God! The evening arrived I had sketched out my dinner and I felt the need to go alone to take the air with the scents of laurels in bloom. I already had almost completely crossed the Place Victor-Hugo, when I heard behind me a well-known little step, quick and jerky. I turned around at the very moment when Vincent was rushing at me with an open razor hand. My gaze must have been very powerful at this moment because it stopped and lowering his head he ran back to the house. Have I been a coward right now and shouldn't have disarmed him and trying to appease him? Often I have questioned my conscience and I do not got no complaints. Throw any stone at me. All at once I was at a good hotel in Arles where, after asking the hour I booked a room and went to bed. Very agitated I could not fall asleep until around 3 o'clock in the morning and I I woke up quite late around 7:30. Arriving in the square, I saw a large crowd gathered. Close to our house of gendarmes, and a little gentleman in a bowler hat who was the police commissioner. Here's what happened. Van Gogh came home and immediately cut off his ear just top of the head. It must have taken some time for him to stop the force of bleeding, because the next day many wet towels spread out on the tiles of the two lower rooms. The blood had soiled the two rooms and the small staircase leading up to our bedroom to sleep. When he was able to go out, his head wrapped in a Basque beret completely depressed, he went straight to a house where, failing country we found an acquaintance, and gave the sentry his ear well cleaned and enclosed in an envelope. "Here," he said, remember me," then fled and returned home where he lay down and fell asleep. He took care, however, to close the shutters and put on a table near the window a lighted lamp. Ten minutes later the whole street given to prostitutes was in movement and we chatted about the event. I was far from suspecting all this when I presented myself on the threshold of our house and when the gentleman in the bowler hat told me to point-blank, in a more than severe tone: "What have you done, sir, of your comrade."--I don't know... "Only if... you know it well... he is dead." I don't wish such a moment on anyone, and it took me a few long minutes to be able to think and compress the beats of my heart. The anger, the indignation, the pain too, and the shame of all these looks that tore my whole person, suffocating me and it is in stammering that I said: "That's good, sir, let's go upstairs and we'll we'll explain up there." In the bed Vincent lay completely wrapped by the sheets, curled up curled up: he seemed inanimate. Gently, very gently, I felt the body whose [Illustration: On the way to the feast] [Illustration: Decorative person...] heat certainly announced life. It was like a recovery for me with all my intelligence and energy. Almost in a low voice I said to the police commissioner: "Please, Sir, wake this man very carefully and if he ask after me tell him that I left for Paris: my view could perhaps be fatal to him.” I must admit that from that moment on, this police commissioner was as suitable as possible, and intelligently he sent for a doctor and a car. Once awake, Vincent asked for his comrade, his pipe and his tobacco, even thought of asking for the box that was downstairs and contained our money. A hint no doubt! who touched me being already armed against all suffering. Vincent was taken to the hospital where, as soon as he arrived, his brain began to scour the countryside again. Everything else, we know in the world that it can be of interest and it would be useless to speak about it, if it is not this extreme suffering of a man who was treated in a madhouse, saw himself at intervals monthly resume reason enough to understand his condition and paint with rage the admirable paintings that we know. The last letter I got was dated from Auvers near Pontoise. He told me that he had hoped to heal enough to come and find me in Brittany, but which today he was obliged to recognize the impossibility of a cure. "Dear master (the only time he uttered this word), he is more worthy after having known you and having caused you pain, to die in a good state of mind than in a degrading state.” And he shot himself in the stomach and it was only a few hours later, lying in bed and smoking his pipe, he died with all his lucidity of mind, with love for his art and without hatred of others. In monsters Jean Dolent writes: "When Gauguin says, 'Vincent,' his voice is soft." Not knowing it, but having guessed it. Jean Dolent is right. We know why.
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