[Gauguin (Paul)]

Lot 56
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Estimation :
1800 - 2500 EUR
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Result : 3 640EUR
[Gauguin (Paul)]
Autograph letter signed by George Daniel de Monfreid to Émile Schuffenecker about Gauguin's death. Saint-Clément, October 20, 1903, 4 pages with postmarked envelope (27 x 21 cm). Folder from Devauchelle. Long, tasty autograph letter, signed, from George Daniel de Monfreid to Émile Schuffenecker a few months after Gauguin's death, about Gauguin. It was at Schuffenecker's home, 29, rue Boulard, that Monfreid met Gauguin in 1887, on his way back from Martinique. Monfreid and Schuffenecker were among the painter's closest friends, but the situation between Gauguin and Schuffenecker deteriorated, and Schuffenecker complained bitterly about the artist's behavior towards him (he gave Gauguin room and board for several months, and Gauguin did not disdain his wife either...). In the present letter, Monfreid passes on his deviations to Gauguin, attempting to explain to his correspondent the painter's personality and genius, while also trying to reason with him about his disappointments with his own artistic activity: "But what on earth did you expect from art? Fame? Fortune? Honors? etc. You know as well as I do that art is a luxury, an indulgence that one indulges in when one is an artist. To dream of having genius and realize that you don't is a wound to the self-esteem of those who have only pride in their skin: for art manifests itself in humble productions which, without being brilliant, can be delightful - for oneself and for others - when one avoids forcing one's talent", before going on to say of Gauguin: "[....] Like you, my dear friend, I am obliged to say that Gauguin did not do all he could or should have done to attract the affection or even the personal sympathy of those who approached him. But now that he's dead, all we have to consider is the artist. As far as I'm concerned, and by a very curious exception, I've never been subjected to any "rosserie" from him. What's more, in his last letters to me, he expressed feelings of almost tender gratitude for the faithfulness with which I took care of his little affairs, for my regular correspondence, and so on. He wrote to M. Fayet in such glowing terms about me that I'm reluctant to repeat his words to you. I know that, deep down, he had some interest in praising me in M. Fayet's eyes; but I think poor Gauguin must have felt terribly the distress of his abandonment, over there at the end of the world. And he must have died very miserably [...] What do you want, my dear friend, Gauguin was with you of the last 'rosserie'; but after all, don't you find it fortunate, in some ways, to have known and associated with this great man, whose extraordinary mentality has reflected on us all? We were the first to experience the stormy momentum of his temperament. Fools saw in him only the childish or naïve sides (he had, after all, extraordinary naïveties) or stopped, shocked, at his fierce egoism. We need to be wiser, and get to the bottom of things: see how far he has taken us out of banality, what horizons he has opened up for us. Has he wasted his life well? Doubtful. He undoubtedly did a lot of fruitful work; and he certainly felt a lot, lived a lot. - Admittedly, he's not a role model for our children; but his value should make him forgive a lot - especially after his death. Come on, my dear, good luck; take care of yourself physically and even morally: don't let yourself be discouraged [...] I shake your hand from the bottom of my heart. Geo. de Monfreid". This letter was written some ten days before the first exhibition of the Salon d'Automne, where, thanks to the intervention of his friends, a room was devoted to Gauguin. It was Monfreid who, on learning of Gauguin's death on August 23, took it upon himself to break the news to his friends and clients. Provenance: Émile Schuffenecker.
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