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    Alfred Robaut. Autograph Letter Signed.
    "Alf. Robaut." Two pages in French on Robaut's business stationary, 8.25" x 10.5", Douai [France]; May 6, [1867]. In this letter to an unnamed correspondent, Robaut writes of the recent passing of "our dear, departed master," presumably Eugène Delacroix, and of the 1867 Universal Exposition, held in Paris from April 1 to November 3 of that year. A partial translation [in English] is presented here.

    "Life has taught me to judge men by their taste in art and I think no two men who did not know each other have sympathized more than you and I thanks to our dear, departed master. What he told on the artwork of our time was an understatement: I have just spent four days at the Paris exhibition and I assure you no more than ten paintings are worthy of attention, and even then one must be indulgent.

    As Díaz [Narcisse Virgilio Díaz de la Peña (1807-1876), a French painter], a born painter par excellence, was telling me as only he can, 'we are drowning in rotten painting, such as Cabanel [Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889), a French painter] and the like. How do you expect the youth, who see these paintings praised absurdly, not to tell themselves: "let's follow this example"?'

    There are two paintings in the exhibition that are very good: one by Ribot [Théodule-Augustin Ribot (1823-1891), a French realist painter and printmaker.], but here he goes doing a pastiche of u Ribeira /u [presumably referring to Jusepe de Ribera (circa 1591-1652), a Spanish painter and printmaker, also known as José de Ribera and Josep de Ribera], and no other originality, nothing sui generis, or else when one sees something with significant qualities then they attract every single person, such as u Manet /u [Édouard Manet (1832-1883)].

    You probably had news of Diron's sale (Delacroix's beneficiary) who just died and whose children sold everything, including every last album of Delacroix's sketches and portraits, to Monsieur Dalton [possibly someone related to Eugénie D'Alton or Dalton, born Geneviève-Charlotte Simon, (circa 1803-1859), who was a model, dancer, painter, and student and mistress of Delacroix] .
    The sale had all manner of possible misfortunes: the person selected to manage it had no expertise whatsoever and naturally the prices went down significantly - how I regretted my absence... I would certainly have acquired numerous items!
    A sketch of the ceiling of the Galerie d'Apollon that allegedly sold for 20,000 francs at the Delacroix sale and that Diron had removed to place in his own living room, was sold for 6,000 francs. The following day it was sold for 15,000 francs to Stevens, the painter, who had already been gifted 21,000 francs. At that price it is still a bargain since the sketch is a completed work and admirable in every way, more beautiful even than the ceiling that was made in the studio Rue Delorette where Delacroix did not have enough space. All the other items in the sale were given away and will share the fate of the above sketch.
    The joy of the administration of the Beaux-Arts must be great since they always said he was a kook who only made two or three acceptable paintings!!
    These are the people who say my work with facsimiles is futile and will be of no use to posterity, calling my project fetishistic. Why, then, do they preserve pieces of paper that belonged to Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, Correggio and others in their museums? Here is how they rejected my request to City Hall for them to buy a subscription to [our or mine] two first series: 'The Commission opines that these drawings do not favorably represent Delacroix's talent since it focuses too much on the critical aspect of his work and not the striking aspect, etc...'

    Forgive me, sir, for expounding on these issues that will not interest you but I must unload my heart of the pity that I feel for these men who are given the helm of the Beaux-Arts the way they would be given a novel to read. I am so thankful to have met you, sir, a man with true heart, because you appreciate the work I have done. I will end here. Rest assured I'll soon deal with your lot [of Delacroix materials] and give it my best..."

    Alfred Robaut (1830-1909) was a French designer, engraver, and art historian. He is best known as the author of the first catalog of works by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) and Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875), painters whom he greatly admired. From the 1860s, Robaut devoted himself to the reproduction in facsimile of drawings and autographs of Delacroix. He also collected testimonies and documents on the life and work of Corot.

    An interesting letter by Robaut on his views of the art world of mid-19th century France and of his reverence for Delacroix.

    Condition: Letter has the usual folds; otherwise good.


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