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    Charles Laval. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Émile Henri Bernard.
    1) ALS. "Charles Laval." Four page bifolium in French, 5.25" x 8", [Paris?]; [circa 1890]. In this long fascinating letter to fellow artist Émile Henri Bernard, Laval discusses his love for Bernard's sister Madeleine Bernard (1871-1895), who was engaged in 1890 to Laval, and the resistance he has encountered from the Bernard family, including Émile [English translation]. "You have written to your parents that you do not trust me and you did well since that is what you believe. However since my return from Touraine I have changed, and I do not even need to make an effort, so the change will certainly last. Two things have made this possible, my newfound faith and my affection for your sister. Everything is against me: my circumstances, my past, you and your father, but despite that I am confident although saddened that these obstacles are all my doing. Madeleine is brave, I have told her that there is nothing but nonsense in my past and the future will be challenging. I told her to reflect on it all. I have poor health, poor finances, etc. and that if her affection for me was not very strong she could tell me now and my religious faith will pull me through the sorrow. This did not change her mind.

    Only you and Madeleine know what I am telling you. What officially happened is this: as soon as it was clear she agreed to marry me once I could earn us a living, I spoke to your parents and said: 'I have come here frequently since Emile left and the reason is Madeleine: I love her. Since I cannot ask for her hand because I do not make a living for myself, I am advising you. It is your decision under what terms I will continue to visit here.' Your father decided it would be once a fortnight which is quite long. He also said he would speak to Madeleine and to your mother.

    Since then I have received my share of ["reproaches"], I swear it, and you have joined the chorus. I have accepted all of them because they are true but it has been tough. I keep working and let the hail strike my back. Despite it all, I am so happy. I feel bad for Madeleine however. My dear Emile, do what you think is right but think about how resolute I am and how certain your sister is. Think about her, not me. I hope my perseverance will bring back some trust among us, though it is a new quality of mine.

    The only comment I take issue with is that I am lazy. I initiated a quest for the absolute which required intense effort. Work on my source figure and comparisons of forms. It was cerebral work, surely, but difficult nonetheless. It almost drove me insane. I have two boxes full of paperwork that I may just burn when I open them for all the nonsense it led me to. I am certain you and I will know each other better in time and you will see my hardships and perhaps some qualities. Please believe in my friendship." 2) ALS. "Charles Laval." One page in French, 5.5" x 8.75", [Paris]; Wednesday, September 3, [circa 1890-1891]. In this short letter to Bernard, Laval writes [English translation], "I'll be here until tomorrow afternoon, if you're in Paris come have lunch with me. I am gaining confidence again, I saw the Poles yesterday and they cheered me up. My best to Madeleine, tell her I am regaining a sense of calm. Greet your parents from me and tell them I regret having said those unpleasant things. If you cannot make it tomorrow, here's a check for two francs I owe you..."

    Charles Laval (1861-1894) was a French painter associated with the Synthetic movement and Pont-Aven School. Laval was born in Paris, and was a contemporary and friend of Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) and Vincent van Gogh. Laval died of an illness complicated by tuberculosis in 1894 at the age of 32.

    Émile Henri Bernard (1868-1941) was a French Post-Impressionist painter and writer, who had artistic friendships with Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) and, later, Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). Bernard's literary work, comprising plays, poetry, and art criticism as well as art historical statements that contain first-hand information on the crucial period of modern art to which Bernard had contributed.

    Condition: The letters have the usual folds; otherwise good.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2019
    4th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
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