Robin Camille Davis
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Post-impressionist gossip drama

February 01, 2011
Tags: art, droll, history

From a letter from Paul Gauguin to Vincent van Gogh, 1 October 1888, and accompanying commentary:

... — ah! my dear Vincent, you would have plenty to amuse you, seeing all these painters here, pickled in their mediocrity like gherkins in vinegar. Makes no difference whether they’re fat, long or twisted and warty, they’re still, and will always be, nitwit gherkins. Eugène, just look at him! Eugène, that’s Habert, Habert’s the one who killed Dupuis, you know...* And his pretty wife and his old mother, and the whole bloody lot! And Eugène paints, writes for the newspapers, travels free in First class, sir. There’s enough there to make you laugh till you cry. Aside from his art, what a lousy existence, and was it worth the trouble that Jesus died for all these lousy buffoons? As an artist, yes;  as a reformer, I don’t believe so. [1v:2–1r:4]

*Footnote: On 29 April 1888 the painters Félix Dupuis and Eugène Habert fought a duel with pistols in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, and Dupuis was killed. The incident, which sparked off a national debate about the legality of duelling, received wide coverage in the press. Habert was acquitted by the court in June. See Gauguin lettres 1983, p. 247 (n. 3), and Correspondance Gauguin 1984, pp. 501-502.

God I love 100-year-old gossip.

Additionally, this website, an exhaustive catalog of Vincent Van Gogh's correspondence, is one of the best resources I have ever come across, in terms of content, extra content, design, and general thoroughness.