Gazette Drouot logo print
Lot n° 22

ROUAULT GEORGES (1871-1958).

Estimate :
Subscribers only

About 290 L.A.S. "Rouault" or "GR", 1936-1958, to Claude ROULET in Neuchâtel; about 930 pages, various sizes (mostly in-4), envelopes. Very important unpublished artistic correspondence, or twenty years of friendship by letters, to a privileged confidant. Capital correspondence to follow the life and work of Rouault in his last years. The Neuchâtel writer Claude ROULET, close to the Ides et Calendes publishing house and the Bibliothèque des Arts, and editor of the Belles-Lettres review, prefaced Rouault's Soliloquies in 1944, and published his Souvenirs in 1961. We can only give here a very brief overview of these numerous letters, often very long, amounting to nearly a thousand pages. The envelopes also contain letters that Rouault wrote to his children, which he asked Roulet, during the war, to copy and pass on to them. Rouault erases, corrects, adds developments in the margins, mixes inks of different colors, erases lines by covering them with an ink wash, which gives them a pictorial character. The angular handwriting is sometimes shaky with age. Rouault realizes that reading his letters is difficult: "Ashamed to address such horrors to you to the reading, one sees that I was at the end quite when arriving. To the trash can"; or: "Correction is not my forte, far from it. I agree, I am not made to write official letters," he wrote in the margin of a particularly erased missive. At the head of another where the calligraphy strikes by its unusual regularity: "Here is a letter as we used to do in the past for the feast of parents or grandparents, grandmothers, it lacks only the bouquet of flowers in relief in colors, you will not say that I can not write correctly. His writing, often graphically spectacular, covers the smallest space on the page. Rouault also applies certain effects of page layout, such as the arrangement of his text in a cross, for some letters that he calls "epistolary gifts" (XI.1940). A page is entirely calligraphed with the brush with Indian ink (28.XI.40). Some letters are very long, with pages of different paper, sometimes on recycled paper ("Excuse this nasty paper"...). He frequently adds apostilles to his letters, under various titles ("Last hour", "Before last hour"). Some letters are accompanied by poems. Rouault evokes his exhibitions, his condition of cursed artist, the reception of his work, etc.. He expands on what he calls "the greatest drama of my life": the death of Ambroise VOLLARD and the sealing of his works. "He entrusts Roulet with the task of recovering them and bringing them to his home: "if L.V. were to disappear, it would look like I had to repaint them, misery of misery, that would be the end of it" (August 31, 1939, one month after Vollard's death). He gives details of the works that are in this or that studio. He does not cease to lament: "What an end of existence, derisory and stupid at the time when I needed a complete and rapid effort, but I spent my life to be thus in rolls and pitches, and I resist now the sea sickness" (10.IX.1939). He recounts in detail the transactions with Lucien Vollard, the selection by the experts of his works, which he experiences as a heartbreak. "I spend long hours reading, two or three times a night. In truth, I am furious at these buggers who pretend to love art and artists, and who make them die of despair - five months lost at nearly seventy years of age, it's a big loss. This personal tragedy is grafted onto a larger tragedy, the Second World War: "I fear I no longer have the physical strength" ... The exodus leads him to Grasse... Etc. We will quote here only a few extracts from a long letter of 12 pages where, in 1939, he gives himself up to his young friend: "my contemporaries have considered me during my whole life, with a few exceptions, as an old crust of bread forgotten behind a trunk [...] this has done me a favor, by letting me work in peace, without worrying about pleasing or displeasing, which is quite in my inner directive"... He says his admiration for Manet and Cézanne.... "In these times of degenerate art as Mr. Hitler speaks even if it means to be excommunicated from the aforementioned prophet, it is sweet for me when I hear him at the microphone to see again in imaginary appetence the embarkation for Cytherea the small happiness of the day in blue satin of Chardin the maternal recommendation of Corot or Courbet in his best [...] Am I therefore this man of darkness - they said. Have I ever been yes? Certainly but to deliver me because art is deliverance. [...] To make an epic art is it still necessary

Auction's title
Auction's date
Auction location