Courbet (Gustave)

Lot 12
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Courbet (Gustave)
Ɵ Letters from Gustave Courbet to the German army and German artists. Read at the Athénée in the session of October 29, 1870. From all booksellers and the author, Paris, 1870. First edition (22.5 x 13.5 cm). Binding: Purple half-maroquin, smooth spine, gilt title throughout, untrimmed, yellow printed covers preserved (M.-L. Fort), protective box. Very rare booklet published in the midst of the siege of Paris, offered by Courbet to the Communard abbot Gaston de Manas, with other documents on Courbet, priests and the Commune. "To Citizen Manas Gustave Courbet". Gaston de Manas was the vicar of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, the church next door to the café La Nouvelle Athènes, which at the time was a magnet for Parisian bohemia. He would later become the secret correspondent of members of the Commune government forced into exile. Enclosed, in the same spirit - Les Curés en Goguette, with six drawings by Gustave Courbet, Exposition de Gand en 1868, A. Lacroix, Verboeckhoven et Cie, Bruxelles, 1868 (bookplate Robert de Billy, period hardback). - Castagnary [Jules-Antoine], Gustave Courbet et la Colonne Vendôme. A plea for a dead friend. E. Dentu, Paris, 1883. - A period photograph of Courbet. While Paris was under siege from the Prussians, less than two months after the defeat at Sedan, Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) spoke at the Athénée des Arts, Sciences, Belles-lettres et Industrie in Paris, at the instigation of his fellow Jura native Victor Considerant (1808-1893), a propagator of Charles Fourier's ideas. He was indirectly addressing Germans, especially artists, who were naively duped by Bismarck's propaganda. He referred to his good knowledge of Germany, where he had exhibited in 1869, even being decorated by Ludwig II of Bavaria, Wagner's patron! This allowed him to make some perfectly insolent remarks: "You talk of civilization! I've seen you at work; I've seen you not knowing how to invite someone to dinner...". Courbet's lyricism then went so far as to evoke a future United States of Europe! In September, Courbet had become president of the Paris Arts Commission, of which Honoré Daumier and Félix Bracquemond were members. During the Commune in the spring of 1871, he was "up to his neck in political affairs", as he wrote to his parents on April 30: "President of the Federation of Artists, member of the Commune, delegate to the town hall, delegate to public education: four of the most important functions in Paris [...] Paris is a real paradise! No police, no foolishness, no exactions of any kind, no disputes". The rest is history: after the bloody week, Courbet was arrested on the night of June 7-8 and imprisoned at Mazas and then Sainte-Pélagie. Accused of having contributed to the destruction of the Vendôme column, he was fined heavily for its reconstruction, and went into exile in Switzerland, at La Tour-de-Peilz on Lake Geneva. An amnesty was not granted until 1880, three years after the painter's death. In his 1883 book, Castagnary dismantled Courbet's involvement in the demolition of the Vendôme column point by point. Provenance: Gaston de Manas; Robert de Billy.
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