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Vincent van Gogh, on his painting, “At Eternity’s Gate”

The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh L248, Written 26,27 Dec 1882 (NY Graphic Society, 1958), I:495.

It seems to me it’s a painter’s duty to try to put an idea into his work. In this print I have tried to express what seems to me one of the strongest proofs of the existence of the “quelque chose l’-haut” [something on high] in which Millet believed, namely the existence of God and eternity… ¶ [It is] certainly in the infinitely touching expression of a little old man, which he himself is unconscious of, when he is sitting quietly in the corner by the fire. At the same time, there is something noble, something great, which cannot be destined for the worms… This is far from all theology, simply the fact that the poorest little woodcutter or peasant on the hearth or miner can have moments of emotion and inspiration that give him a feeling of an eternal home, and of being close to it.