Zola (Émile)

Lot 10
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2000 - 4000 EUR
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Result : 13 650EUR
Zola (Émile)
Autograph draft of letter to the editorial staff of Le Figaro about Cézanne: Réponse à la note de Francis Magnard du 8 avril 1867 sur Paul Cézanne. [Paris 1867] (2 pages on the front of 2 sheets 21 x 13.8 cm and one line on the back of the second). Devauchelle folder. Autograph first draft of Zola's famous letter-answer to the editors of Le Figaro in reaction to Francis Magnard's note of April 8, 1867, which ridiculed Cézanne by crippling his name ("M. Sésame"), while attributing to him "two pig's feet in the form of a cross" at the Salon des Refusés. This reply, published on April 12, was the first article ever devoted to Cézanne, "a childhood friend of mine [...] a young painter whose vigorous and personal talent I particularly esteem [...] who has not the slightest pig's foot in his artistic baggage". Unpublished draft with erasures and corrections, revealing how Zola elaborated his famous letter-reply to "F. M." (Francis Magnard), who had published a quasi-defamatory item under the heading Paris au jour le jour in Le Figaro of April 8, 1867 (page 2), one week after the opening of the Universal Exhibition: "I have been told again about two rejected paintings, by M. Sésame (nothing of the 'Thousand and One Nights'), the same man who, in 1863, provoked general hilarity at the Salon des refusés - still! - with a painting of two pig's feet on a cross. This time, Mr. Sésame has sent two compositions to the Exhibition, if not as bizarre, at least as worthy of exclusion from the Salon. These two compositions are entitled 'Le Grog au vin' (The wine toddy) and depict, one a naked man to whom a woman in full toilette brings a wine toddy; the other a naked woman and a man in lazzarone costume: here the toddy is spilled. I'm convinced that the author may have put a philosophical idea in there; it's there, no doubt, but only for the initiated". Zola didn't let this perfidy about his childhood friend from Aix get past him, and his reply appeared on Friday April 12 in the Correspondance section, addressed to "M. F. Magnard, rédacteur du Figaro". The manuscript used for printing is unknown. Zola certainly didn't have any proofs on hand, as Cézanne's name was again crippled, this time to "Césanne"! Zola, who had met Cézanne at college in 1852, was Cézanne's staunch supporter in his early years, and it was to Cézanne that he dedicated his third book, Mon Salon, in 1866, a work that was a glowing eulogy of Manet. The present first draft is the first manuscript ever devoted to Cézanne. It allows us to follow Zola's defense of his friend, with a few variations from the printed version, such as the reference to Le Nain jaune, where Arnold Mortier's pen would have mentioned a painting entitled Deux Pieds de cochon en croix by "M. Sésame", whereas in the published article, Zola referred to L'Europe: "A M. Francis Magnard, rédacteur du Figaro. My dear colleague, I confess I had some difficulty in recognizing M. Paul Cézanne, who has not the slightest pig's trotter in his artistic baggage, so far at least, beneath the mask that has been stuck to his face. I make this restriction because I don't see why we shouldn't paint pig's feet the way we paint melons and carrots. M. Paul Cézanne, in fine and numerous company, has indeed had two canvases rejected this year: Le grog au vin and Ivresse. It pleased Mr. Arnold Mortier to have fun with these paintings and to describe them with imaginative efforts that do him great credit. Besides, I'm well aware that all this is a pleasant joke that we shouldn't worry about. But what do you want? I've never been able to understand this singular method of criticism, which consists in mocking confidence, condemning and ridiculing what you haven't even seen. At the very least, I would like to say that the descriptions given by Mr. Arnold Mortier are inaccurate. You yourself, my dear colleague, add your grain of salt in good faith: "you are convinced that the author may have put a philosophical idea into this." That's conviction in the wrong place. If you want philosophical artists, turn to the Germans, turn to our pretty French dreamers; but believe that analytical painters, that the young school whose cause I have the honor of defending, are content with the broad realities of nature." In his letter, which was as pertinent as it was hard-hitting, Zola had the subtlety not to attack Magnard head-on, but to shoot Arnold Mortier, to whom Magnard was referring, in the foot, which enabled him to obtain the right of reply he wanted from the editor of Le Figaro. This reply, published on April 12
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