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GAUGUIN, Eugene-Henri-Paul (1848-1903). Autograph letter signed ('P Go') to Emile Bernard ('Mon cher Bernard'), [Le Pouldu, June 1890], with ORIGINAL DRAWING in pen and pencil, 4 pages, 8vo (restored, some light dampstaining, short marginal tear touching text).
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GAUGUIN, Eugene-Henri-Paul (1848-1903). Autograph letter signed ('P Go') to Emile Bernard ('Mon cher Bernard'), [Le Pouldu, June 1890], with ORIGINAL DRAWING in pen and pencil, 4 pages, 8vo (restored, some light dampstaining, short marginal tear touching text).

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GAUGUIN, Eugene-Henri-Paul (1848-1903). Autograph letter signed ('P Go') to Emile Bernard ('Mon cher Bernard'), [Le Pouldu, June 1890], with ORIGINAL DRAWING in pen and pencil, 4 pages, 8vo (restored, some light dampstaining, short marginal tear touching text).

A detailed, revealing letter on Gauguin's painting and sculpture, his views on Manet's Olympia, and mention of Vincent van Gogh. Gauguin is in poor spirits, but claims not to be touched by criticism of his paintings ('coteries qui hurlent devant mes tableaux'); in Pont-Aven and Le Pouldu, Gauguin had turned from Impressionism to 'synthetism', his technique becoming a simplification of forms through the use of thick contours and flat areas of colour. Here, he tells Bernard how he is sculpting and painting still lifes, describing his role as painter 'il faut en faire le sacrifice en art, périodes par périodes, essais ambiants, une pensée flottante sans expression directe et definitive. Mais bah! une minute où on touche le ciel qui fuit apreès' ... oui, nous sommes destinés (artistes chercheurs et penseurs) a perir sous les coups du monde ... nous sommes en plein melasse mais nous ne sommes pas encore morts'. Gauguin hopes to go to Tonkin, rejecting the West ('l'Occident est pourri pour le moment') and feeling that he would be nourished by the East and its art.

'Je trouve très drôle cet achat de l'Olympia maintenant que l'artiste est mort. Le prendra-t-on au Louvre? je ne crois pas et c'est à souhaiter'. Following Manet's death, Claude Monet stuggled to raise a public subscription to purchase Olympia, scandalous when it first appeared in 1865, and by 1889/90 now causing controversy once more, Gauguin referring to 'le vent grande'. 'C'est fatal et alors on achètera l'Olympia très cher comme le Millet. En ce moment plus il y a de bêtises plus les temps meilleurs se dessinent à l'horizon et vous qui êtes jeune vous verrez cela'. He will not write an article on the subject, discouraged by the bad reception of his articles in the Moderniste, and Aurier has not replied to his letters, 'telle une merde de chien le long d'un mur ...'.

'A Madeleine tous mes regrets de la rudesse de son pot': Gauguin ends his letter with a discussion of his techniques in ceramics, and a drawing of a pot which can be identified with his 'Autoportrait en forme de tête de grotesque', now in the Musée d'Orsay (hiver, 1889, glazed earthenware, OA 9050). Gauguin's letter shows a preoccupation with the characteristics and qualities of stoneware, which he discusses in detail, mentioning his article in the Moderniste and drawing upon Dante and mannerism ('Vincent [van Gogh] m'a écrit à peu près la même chose qu'à vous; que nous allions au maniéré'). Influenced by Ernest Chaplet's techniques in earthenware, Gauguin had been able to express 'the primitive and the essential'. He had fallen in love with Madeleine, Bernard's sister, painting her portrait in 1888 (Musée de Grenoble); in 1890 he became desperate when she got engaged to one of his disciples, Charles Laval.
Published in Lettres de Gauguin à sa femme et à ses amis, ed. M. Malingue, Paris: 1946, p.192.
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