The religious fervor and sermonizing of Van Gogh’s early letters is occasionally interrupted by a passage of perfect description. Or better: composition. From a letter to brother Theo, October 31, 1876:
It was a bright autumn day and a beautiful walk from here to Richmond along the Thames, in which were mirrored the tall chestnut trees with their burden of yellow leaves and the bright blue sky, and through the tops of those trees the part of Richmond that lies on the hill, the houses with their red roofs and uncurtained windows and green gardens and the grey spire above them, and below, the great grey bridge, with the tall poplars on either side, over which the people could be seen going by as small black figures.In 1876, Van Gogh had not yet begun to paint.
The Letters of Vincent van Gogh , ed. Ronald de Leeuw, trans. Arnold Pomerans (New York: Penguin, 1997).
Also from a Van Gogh letter
“Admire as much as you can”