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    Description

    [Gauguin] Émile Schuffenecker. Autograph Letter to Gauguin.
    Six pages in French, with cross outs and added words, 7" x 9", Paris; January 29, 1891. In this scathing letter to Gauguin, which may be a draft copy, Schuffenecker complains to his fellow artist about what he's done for Gauguin and what little Gauguin has done for him. He begins his letter by referring to what he and others are doing for Gauguin to raise funds for his upcoming trip to Tahiti. By 1890, Gauguin decided that Tahiti would be his next artistic destination. A successful auction of paintings in Paris in February 1891, along with other events, such as a banquet and a benefit concert, provided the necessary funds. Portions of Schuffenecker's letter is presented here [English translation].

    "You ask why I write and do not speak to you. It is because talking leads to arguing and I have been avoiding arguments with you for some time. You cannot accept any contradictions and you veer into the most offensive words as you have done to me on several occasions. Also, during this past month of making preparations for my trip you seem totally uninterested in any news on that account. Your memory is short, dear Gauguin. When you came here with Morice [Charles Morice (1860-1919), the French writer, essayist, and poet] and Jean Dolent, [Jean Dolent (1835-1909), French writer and art critic] we spoke of the fundraising sale for your trip and I said to Dolent, in front of you, that your friends should make plans to bring some funds in order to get your paintings sold and that I was prepared to do so. That seems, to me, to amount to caring about people. On the other hand, if you do not mind let us examine together what you have done for me. While I have been pushing for the same cause in the world of painting as you have, not once have you made a gesture to allow me access to a single exhibition or seller, or helped me sell a painting. Not once have you brought a literary person or anyone who might have an interest in any of my canvases here. When you did bring someone it was for your ends and yours alone. In my presence you have never commented on any of my paintings and if anyone else makes a comment, all you manage to give is an average response. Bernard [Émile Henri Bernard (1868-1941), French Post-Impressionist painter and writer, and friend of Gauguin's] knew a seller who did not like his paintings but thought the seller would like mine and sent him to me. That is a friend. All I have ever done for Bernard was invite him to exhibit his work at a space that Mr. Volpini lent me near the Champ de Mars. I invited others but he was the only one who showed gratitude. As for his project for an anonymous association, he told me about it as a friend but did not ask me to join knowing that I would not accept. However I told him how admirable, though unrealistic, I find it that he thought of this idea, which seems to me the most sublime act from the soul of an artist prepared to abnegate himself in the name of art, his deity. Let us get to the main point. Tilliger [?] asked me to ask for an invitation for him to come to Brussels. You knew this so why are you bringing it up only now? If I knew about it, it is certainly not from you. Others had mentioned it but I had no certainty on the matter and I wanted to ask you directly. If you had asked me to have you invited to Brussels I would have done it gladly. Firstly, in order to ask you I would have had to know you were invited and that you were in a position to invite someone else. But if I had known I would not have done it because, as you know, I am not in the habit of asking. When a friend needs something from me I do what I can to spare them the humiliation and anticipate their need. You know that and should remember it. But Tilliger asked you and you worked on it for him. You forgot your old struggle buddy, your friend during stormy weather, the first who supported and believed in you, you inflicted upon him the humiliation of letting through before him a younger man, with talent to be sure, but it just highlighted the fact that this young man came into this world under the influence of Roy [Louis George Eleonor Roy (1862-1907, French painter, engraver and professional printer, and friend of Gauguin's] who was my student and knew me before he knew you. You must be pleased with yourself, you went straight for the heart and deep into it at that...if you wish for a verbal explanation rest assured you will be received at the house under the strict condition that you abstain from all offensive words or acts, let that be a mutual standard. Don not read any of this as me sending you packing, as you wrote. I understand you are struggling right now and if you need to show your paintings you will be welcome here. You have the same freedom of choice as always but I had to tell you my thoughts. Men must be frank with one another."

    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.

    Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was one of the most significant French Post-Impressionist painters. Breaking away from the Impressionist style, he pioneered a new form of painting referred to Symbolism. In the early 1890s, he began traveling regularly to the South Pacific, where his art was strongly influenced by the native arts of Africa, Asia, and French Polynesia.

    A fascinating letter in which Schuffenecker complains to Gauguin about all of the personal slights he has suffered at Gauguin's hands.

    Condition: In addition to the usual folds, each of the pages of the letter are separated at the center horizontal fold, without affecting text. Fragile.


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    September, 2019
    4th Wednesday
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