Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    George Santayana. Three Autograph Letters Signed, to Martin Birnbaum. Rome: October 12th 1945, February 4 1946, and Jan. 22 1947. Eight quarto pages, 8.25 x 10.5 inches (208 x 265 mm.), the first two letters being two-page ALS; and the last letter a four-page ALS. An excellent correspondence, accompanied by two ALS's sent to Santayana by Martin Birnbaum. Some darkening to paper, creases from folding. Very good.

    More Information:

    An engaging and diffuse correspondence dealing with a variety of art-related themes. In the first letter, Santyana recounts a trip he made in company with John Singer Sergeant in 1893, including some private insight he was accorded into the latter's compositional strategy. The letter generally takes its bearings from the mention of an erstwhile Harvard undergrad whom Santayana had known peripherally and whose art collection would now come to the Fogg Museum. He mentions that he doesn't really have any close contacts at Harvard any longer, and is quite out of touch with news of it. A second letter responds to his correspondent's own reminiscences of Sergeant and Henry James, particularly discussing the differences between naturalistic and "eccentric or symbolic painting." He notes that his own sympathies lie with the classical tradition and hence more with the former, and he speaks of the spiritual and conceptual dimensions of Sergeant's otherwise "naturalistic" paintings. A third and final letter concerns a book his correspondent has written and sent him in Rome, and whose transit was long delayed. Its subjects, which include the art of Aubrey Beardsley and Hans Bellmer occasion a lengthy reflection on the place of the "obscene" in art and how it might best be effected so as to excite its "proper" reactions without trespassing domains in which it has no place.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2018
    7th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 302

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $19), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 10 days left to consign to the 2020 March 29 Vintage Guitars & Musical Instruments Musical Instruments Signature Auction - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    I don’t often do testimonials but in this case I felt truly obligated to thank Heritage Auctions for the extremely professional job your organization did for me.
    Charlie K.,
    Pittsburgh, PA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $1,016,674