Jan Mankes 1889-1920

A letter Jan Mankes wrote, while he was ill with tuberculosis.  The letter was addressed to a female friend and art collector. A few months later he died, thirty years of age.

Jan Mankes, self portrait with owl

“An August day can be so dusty and sobering”. “On these days you just want to disappear, escape all this misery imposing on you”. However you know: “the serene evening will come and the Lapwing, (a bird) will be heard over the lowlands”. When taking a walk in the early morning dew, looking at the backs of the cows, and the dampening trees, you know that just the thought of all these things justifies everything on such a fierce August day.  “You’re not to groan and curse”, “and you do not try to change it and improve it, you just seek out a quiet place somewhere on a deserted piece of land, and wait while knowing that it will come”.  Nature has nothing to hide, but gives everything, and those August days, they also have their place in our mental landscape. But the winterstorm nights, they will come, and so will the lovely mornings and evenings in may,  those are all intimacy.

Only that depth we get while living life through these extremes, together,  can make true friendships happen.

Will fate allow us to go through all these stages?


The Dutch version of this letter is found on the website: www.annezernike.nl

More art of Jan Mankes: The Darkness of Jan Mankes


2 thoughts on “A letter from Jan Mankes

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