ALS in French, signed “P. Gauguin,” four pages on two adjoining sheets, 4.5 x 7, August 2, 1882. Letter to fellow painter Camille Pissarro, addressed to "Mon cher Pissarro," in full (translated): "Thank you for sending the frame, you did well to bring it to Madame Latouche, that will give me the ease of putting glass in it. I understand that Vignon [the painter Victor Vignon] begrudges your advice; have you met many painters (especially the mediocre ones) who accept an observation, all men of genius! I went to see Lami last Monday as you know; Zandomeneghi naturally came to the appointment and hour later.
You understand how pleasant it was for me to stay with a stranger without any presentation. During this hour of conversation I understood that Lami was pretty discouraged from being rejected by the Salon, that our exhibitions would be enough, but that the disputes did not suit him. No one wants to obey, the exhibition of the impressionists must be a refugium peccatorum where any painter with any painting can show his work.
The painting I had to consider was one of about 5 meters long refused at the Salon, the whole to represent in a room of the town hall naked people coming to pass the revision of the major. You know from him an old woman painting done with patience and care but without any art. This large painting is done or rather seen with the same eye. At first sight this would look like a huge image of Epinal. Each character is drawn with a complete ignorance of the whole situation and the outline, but as it is excessively researched in detail, Zandomeneghi thought it was a will of bronze that had done it. He also thought it was very personal because it was not Impressionism. You see at the bottom, as we wish to wage war against ourselves, and who, at God's time, were the most flexible towards us. Degas, for fun, said it was very interesting (because there are ugly, ugly men in the foreground who remove their dirty socks) so Zandomeneghi followed him.
Besides, as you know me, I expressed my opinion frankly to Lami. I told him that his painting was appalling, that in this way there was nothing good for the future, and that, moreover, it was very old, an old and softened art. I added further that it was a mockery to come and fetch me, as everyone knew I am very convinced that the narrow design, the harmony faults were a personal art. But if I see it like this, well, sir, too bad for you—I understand it is difficult to find personality alongside men like Degas, Pissarro, Monet, but this is precisely what should give you emulation. You see that I do not allow the Impressionists to be attacked without a reply. It seems that there are interesting things just outside of us. Mr. Zandomeneghi and his new friend are not quite happy." He adds a brief postscript, "I saw Guillaumin on Monday night. Zandomeneghi will probably come next Sunday, you would make me happy if you were there." In fine condition.
In the mid-1870s, Gauguin became friends with Camille Pissarro, who became his artistic guide and introduced him to painters throughout Paris—Edgar Degas and Federico Zandomeneghi among them. Gaugin's lengthy letter discusses his meeting with Degas, Zandomeneghi, and "Lami" (perhaps Pierre Franc-Lamy), and describes their group's criticism of a large work Lami had created. Gauguin's own early work certainly emulated that of the Impressionist masters—Pissarro, especially—and only later did he develop his own 'personality,' beginning with his travels to Tahiti in 1890. There Gauguin came into his own, developing the primitive style that he is most well known for today. A truly remarkable piece of artistic correspondence between pupil and tutor, offering fabulous insight into the Impressionist circle.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.