MONET, CLAUDE. 1840-1926.
Autograph Letter Signed ("Claude Monet"), 2 pp, 8vo, 1 Bath Place, Kensington, n.d. [ but May, 1871], to Camille Pissarro, on black-bordered mourning stationery, mild toning, both leaves tipped to mat at upper margins with archival tape, matted and framed.
MONET WRITES PISSARRO MENTIONING ERRONEOUS REPORTS OF THE DEATH OF COURBET. During the instability following the fall of the Paris Commune government in the late spring of 1871, news reached London that the artist Courbet had been shot by the opposition. Translated: "You have doubtless heard of poor Courbet's death, shot without a trial. What vile behavior on the part of Versailles, horrible, and the conduct of sick men. I have no heart for anything. All this is heart-rending."
French Realist painter Gustav Courbet [1819-1877] was a role model for younger painters like Monet and Pissaro. Politically a socialist, he was tapped by the Paris Commune after the fall of the Second Empire to reopen the galleries in Paris. During this period Courbet spoke out against the Vendome Column, the statue at the center of the Place Vendome erected by Napoleon I. Calling the column a "monument devoid of all artistic value," Courbet argued that it should be dismantled and re-erected at the Hotel des Invalides. In May of 1871, the column was demolished at the Paris Commune's direction. When the Versaille government took over later that year, the monument was ordered rebuilt and Courbet was singled out as responsible for its original destruction. He was tried in court and ordered to pay restitution. Courbet went into self-imposed exile, where his legal woes and drinking led him into decline, and died in December of 1877, a day before the first installment of restitution was due.
- The letter dates from May, 1871, as correctly described with additional amendments in the online catalog.