This personal and engaging book reproduces over 100 letters from the most famous 19th and 20th century painters in Paris between 1855 and 1968. Among the artists are Claude Monet, August Renoir, Edouard Manet, Pablo Picasso, and Mary Cassatt. With each letter is an exact transcription (all but two of the letters were originally written in French) and then an English translation. The text of the book explores each writers' relationships with the recipients and with other artists they mention, and a precise examination of each artists's place in the history of art. The artists write of their anxieties about work, health, finances, and their future plans. For example, Pierre Bonnard, at eighteen, writes a long letter to his father explaining why he has transferred from art school to law school. An anguished Emile Bernard describes to art critic Albert Aurier, as Paul Gauguin recounted it to him, the night Vincent vanGogh cut off his own ear. Also featured are a work of art by each artist and their portrait, self-portrait, or photograph. Additionally, each letter has been briefly analyzed by a graphologist (handwriting expert), providing another insight to the human side of great talent. The letters have been selected from the collection of Pierre F. Simon, which is now in the archives of the New York Public Library.
Jacqueline Albert Simon is U. S. Bureau Chief and Associate Editor of the French review, Politique Internationale. Lucy D. Rosenfeld is the author of nineteen books on art, architecture, and cultural history.