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Vincent van Gogh
Letter from Paul Signac to Gustave Coquiot

(Published in 1923)

The last time I saw Vincent . . . was in Arles in the spring of 1889. He was already at the hospital of this city. Several days earlier, he had cut off the lobe of his ear (and not his entire ear) under circumstances of which you know. But the day of my visit he had his wits about him, and the intern permitted me to go out with him. He had the famous bandage on, and the fur cap. He took me to his lodgings at the Place Lamartine, where I saw the marvelous paintings, his masterpieces: Les Alyscamps; The Night Café; La Berceuse; The Drawbridge; the Saintes-Maries; The Starry Night; etc. Imagine the splendor of those whitewashed walls from which these colors radiated in all their freshness!

The whole day he spoke to me about painting, literature, socialism. That night he was a little tired. There was a frightful mistral blowing which might have unnerved him. He wanted to drink a liter of oil of turpentine out of a bottle that sat on the table in the room. It was time to return to the hospital.

The next day I went to say good-bye to him; I was leaving for Cassis. There he wrote me a good letter about art and friendship, in which he told me the pleasure my visit had given him and which he illustrated with a beautiful drawing (two actually). I didn’t see him again.

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