[GIRSHMAN, HENRIETTA. 1885-1970.]
Autograph albums. 2 volumes. With over 100 autographs, mostly with inscriptions and many with original drawings, literary quotations and/or musical quotations. 8vo (155 x 110 and 170 x 120 mm). The smaller volume period blindstamped sheep, rebacked; the larger period green calf, rebacked preserving original spine. Together in custom solander box. The smaller lightly toned, binding rubbed.
This two-volume Carnets de Salon is an unique, important historical discoverya portrait of the life of its magnificent owner Henrietta Leon Girshman [1885-1970] of the very fabric of early 20th-Century Moscow and beyond. A celebrated beauty, Henrietta Leon married the industrialist, collector and patron of the arts Vladimir Girshman [1867-1936], and together they became an important influence on the Moscow cultural scene. The Girshmans were founders of the Society of Free Esthetics [1907-1917], a group credited for fostering a number of cultural initiatives, organizing art events and facilitating meetings and exchanges among cultural luminaries in early 20th century Moscow. As both a society member and friend to many Russian artists, writers, poets, musicians and actors, Henrietta's Salon at the family mansion at Red Gates in Moscow became a veritable center of society and art, serving as congregation hall and impromptu performance space for famous recitals, poetry readings and theatrical improvisations for some of the virtuosos of her dayV. Briusov, V. Ivanov, A. Belyi, M. Kuz'min, V. Serov, K. Korovin, S. Diagilev, V. Kachalov, S. Rachmaninoff and A. Scriabin. Girshman's guest bookstarted in 1899 became as inspired as the Salon itself, growing to include poems, letters, inscriptions, drawings, and humorous notes from her appreciative and esteemed guests. At different times M.Gorkii, K. Balmont, Yu. Baltrushaitis, S. Prokoffiev, I. Stravinskii, V. Horowitz, B. Bartok, E. Benua, M. Dobuzhinskii wrote warm notes full of admiration, gratitude and kindness. Humorous poetic manifestations of love were written by Fedor Shaliapin and V. Kachalov.
A striking beauty, Henrietta was painted by several well-known Russian painters, the most memorable by Valentin Serov which continues to be displayed at the State Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow. The work shows Henrietta elegantly posing for the artist in her fashionable boudoir, revealing both an irresistible charm and remarkable presenceclues, perhaps, to the source of her remarkable influence and close personal friendships with the most influential and accomplished personalities in Russia and abroad.
After the revolution in 1917, Girshman's house was confiscated. Its contents and art collections were nationalized and Henrietta and Vladimir were forced into exile. The couple eventually settled in Paris, where Henrietta re-established her Salon albeit on a much smaller scale. Over the years, in both Paris and throughout the world, Henrietta Girshman continued to record her encounters in the very same albums, capturing remarkable visits, notable contacts, and memorable connections with some of the largest figures of her day, including: James Joyce, Claude Debussy, Tomazzo Marinetti, Igor Stravinsky, Vasilii Nemorovich-Danchenko, Konstantin Stanislavskii, Leonard Bernstein, Vladimir Nabokov, Konstantin Somov, and Yehudi Menuhin. Additionally, K. Yuoon, Konstantin Somov, M. Dobuzhinskii, Albert Benua, and Aleksandr Yakovlev left their mark on the albums by producing individual drawings.
These two small volumes of the Carnets de Salon were treasured by their owner and traveled with her every placed she lived. The last inscription in the album is dated 1965, four years before her death. For more than sixty years these remarkable albums recorded intimate, personal reflections of the very best writers, artists, musicians and actors in the world. Intended for a personal enjoyment and intimate contemplation, it became an unusual and important historical document of the cultural renaissance in Russia at the turn of the 20th Century, an unlikely glimpse into the personal lives of many of the world's most important artists, and a catalogue of the life and experiences of a most remarkable and mysterious womanHenrietta Girshman.
Iz al'boma Girshman, The New Review, New York, 1963, issue 71, pages 252-261.
A.N. Savinov, Russkie Khudozhniki v al'bome Girshman, Kniga i Grafika, Moscow, 1972, page 247-252.