|Title||Gauguin, Paul. Autograph letter signed, in French, , , French Establishments in Oceania, Public Works and Land Registry, Office of the Chief of Service, Papeete 12 January 1899, to Daniel de Monfried|
|Description||Gauguin, Paul. Autograph letter signed, in French, 3 pages, (9 ? x 5 ? in.; 244 x 149 mm.), French Establishments in Oceania, Public Works and Land Registry, Office of the Chief of Service, Papeete 12 January 1899, to Daniel de Monfried; corner chipped.|
An exceptionally fine letter written during Gauguin’s difficult final years in Tahiti.
Gauguin writes in full: I cannot thank you too much for what you just sent me: this money comes just in time to let me return to my domain. For a month I did not seem to work more than a fortnight a month, my foot made me suffer that much. When will I get well? You did the right thing in letting Delius have “Nevermore”: he will pay more for it then Vollard. Another time, this Vollard bought pictures of Brittany by me at Bernard’s at a higher price than now. Oh, well, better to sell cheaply than not at all. You remember that you reproached me for having given this picture a title don’t you think that this title Nevermore is the reason for this purchase?
Whatever the reason, I am pleased that Delius is its owner, as it is thus not a speculative purchase so as to resell it, but so as to love it; then he will later want all the more people to visit him and compliment him on it, or even better, they will make him discuss this subject. You don’t say anything appreciative about what I sent you last; was it a bad impression or rather a result of your business at the moment? It seems to me that the Credit Lyonnaise has Chaudet paid at 1%, where you pay 2; in any case I profit by it, because commerce in Tahiti gives me 3%. As of now, I think that my situation is clearing up; I have no more debts, a small advance, some hope; as soon as my foot leaves me in peace a little, I shall resume working. Until then it is useless to touch a paintbrush, I wouldn’t do anything good; [it would be] without consistency, and [with] large interruptions; well, when I am in ordinary circumstances and have enthusiasm, I’ll very quickly plunge to work. Well, at this moment, stretched out on the bed. I work mentally and [have] arrived at a certain propitious moment, everything is concentrated, and the execution will be rapid. And you, my dear Daniel, plagued by business, you are going to quit painting for a whole year and suffer from it; write me as in the past, if not about business, then at least about everything that interests and occupies you. Paris isn’t necessary to art, as youth seems to suppose (keeping up with current events, as Pissarro says). Dangerous enough for 1/2 personalities. For 50 years, the gardeners do double dahlias, then one fine day they return to simple dahlias. Many friendly regards to my friends and all best wishes to you . . . .
Gauguin’s final years in the South Pacific were difficult ones. Snubbed in Papeete by those who disapproved of his moral character, he lived a lonely life with only Pahura, a native woman, as his companion. His money problems were chronic. “In addition to his extravagances and regular expenses, he now had to pay for expensive drugs, mostly of the pain-killing variety; not only were his skin problems worse, but his unhealed leg [broken in 1894 during a brawl with some fishermen in Brittany] began to hurt intensely, forcing him to abandon his work for his bed. In frustration he wrote a stream of anguished letters to friends, cursing fate and begging for financial help” [Andersen, Gauguin’s Paradise Lost]. Eventually his bandaged legs drove away his few remaining friends, who believed he was a leper. In 1896 Gauguin suffered a series of heart attacks; since he was too poor to seek help at the hospital he decided to kill himself with arsenic. The attempt failed and the painter recovered sufficiently to take a job as a draftsman in the Public Works Department at six francs a day. He was forced to move closer to Papeete in order to work; but the money sent by de Monfried in early 1899 allowed him to return to Pahura and painting. Nevermore, the work mentioned in this letter, had been completed in 1897. It shows a nude girl reclining on a bed in a flowered room; she is listening to the gossip of two hooded old women, while a strange bird [“the bird of the devil biding his time,” as Gauguin explained in a letter to de Monfried] perches on the window sill.
|Estimated Price||USD 20,000.00 - 30,000.00|
|Actual Price||USD 88,500.00|
|Auction House||Profiles in History|
|Auction Name||The Property of a Distinguished American Private Collector.|
|Auction Date||December 18, 2012 - December 18, 2012|