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    Émile Bernard. Autograph Letter Signed. "Émile Bernard." Ten pages in French, 6.75" x 8", Cairo; April 10 [circa 1895].
    In this long letter addressed to fellow artist Émile Schuffenecker, Bernard discusses a certain evil individual, evil in general, and religion. A summary of the letter is presented here.

    Afflicted to learn of Schuffenecker's misfortune (specifically, "discovery") which has been thrown upon him by an unrighteous man. The man in question was Bernard's friend and confided in him and Bernard knew certain information which was partially the reason for ending his friendship with this man but did not share it for fear of causing him pain. Bernard admits that although he did not reveal it, Schuffenecker had to find out eventually no matter the terrible pain that resulted. Schuffenecker's wife cheated with this man.

    Because women are weak, it is not her fault but the man's fault and Bernard advises Schuffenecker not to be too severe with his wife. Quotes some religious texts that boil down to "women must be saved, if you take a woman as your wife be prepared to forgive her sins, including infidelity, because a married man vows to keep his wife from eternal damnation and must remember that forgiveness is God's command, especially in a marriage".

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    France is low, the world is a sad place, and we live in times of impiety and blasphemy. More Christian talk and he signs out at the end of the letter.

    He writes of finding grace in nature such as when watching a rising or setting sun and signs out here as well, from Cairo.

    Émile Henri Bernard (1868-1941) was a French Post-Impressionist painter, writer, and poet who had artistic friendships with Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) and Eugène Boch (1855-1941) and, later, with Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). Beginning in 1893, he started traveled to Egypt, Spain and Italy and returned to Paris in 1904, where he remained for the rest of his life.

    Émile Schuffenecker (1851-1934) was a French Post-Impressionist artist, painter, art teacher, and art collector. A friend of Paul Gauguin, whom he first met in 1872, and one of the first collectors of works by Vincent van Gogh. Since the 1920s, Schuffenecker has been suspected by some as forging works by contemporaries, such as Van Gogh. The charge has not been definitively settled.

    Condition: Fragile.


    More Information:

    Quotes a religious text: "people who hate have multiplied beyond the number of hairs on my head. The enemies who persecute me have become powerful and I have paid for sins I did not commit. He then writes as if to God about getting him out of this trap, delivering him from his enemies, how God's hand will get him out of this mess." He brings in a treatise by St. Augustine and goes on talking about Christian lessons and recognizing one's pain as a bridge to other people's pain and the power of prayer to overcome it.

    Evil people exist either to redeem themselves or to put good people to the test and strengthen their faith in God. We must not hate evil people because one day they may redeem themselves and so in hating what you think is an enemy you may be hating a brother.

    There is no absolutely innocent man just as there is no absolutely natural nature. Therefore, man will not find Beauty in Nature because it has been altered by God and men. Let us love one another and hate men of ambition and sin who are liars and cowards. I do not presume to be a righteous person and I defer to you in regards to the matter of the Cézanne [painting].

    I ask for your forgiveness in the matter, the cause of which was that I was sinful but God has allowed to recognize my ill acts. You have done so much for me and that is why I appreciate you, I wish a joyful life for you which has unfortunately been marred by recent events but you are a Christian man and know the value of forgiveness.

    In terms of art itself, I have something to tell you which is that I'm convinced these people I'm writing to you about will not accomplish anything unless they convert. You might accuse me of fanaticism but all faith appears ridiculous in a corrupt and ridiculous world. It is time to finish with the stupidities of this rotting world. Curiosity is that which leads astray the spirits best suited to receive Goodness, Kindness, and Beauty. Curiosity and the pride that follows are the problems that need addressing. When one sees too much and reads too much, one cannot reject anything and accepts all sorts of contradictory ideas.

    He reached out to these people who rejected him and did not believe in him and said "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". Here is the advice the great Augustine gives you and the example that God gives you. But God also said "if your right arm makes scandals, cut it off" and he orders us to flee perfidious people. But we ourselves are too far from the Church and become distracted by modern ideas, leaving aside our faith in day-to-day life.



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    Ukrainian Institute of America at The Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion2 East 79th StreetNew York, NY 10075

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