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Lot #303
Claude Monet Autograph Letter Signed to Camille Pissarro on Manet's 'Olympia'

Monet writes to Pissarro, recounting his success in raising funds for Manet’s masterpiece 'Olympia'—"The most difficult task remains to be done: convincing the state to accept our gift"

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Estimate: $8000+
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Description

Monet writes to Pissarro, recounting his success in raising funds for Manet’s masterpiece 'Olympia'—"The most difficult task remains to be done: convincing the state to accept our gift"

ALS in French, three pages on two adjoining sheets, 4.5 x 7, March 23, 1889. Handwritten letter to fellow painter Camille Pissarro, referring to the "subscription Manet"—the campaign to buy Edouard Manet’s masterpiece 'Olympia.' In part (translated): "I have well received your letter containing a 50 Francs mandate for the Manet fund, but it was not that urgent....I am now at 18,500 Francs. I therefore hope to get soon at the round number. But the most difficult task remains to be done: convincing the state to accept our gift. And I already know that, while I am working to get at the desired result, others are working also, but towards the opposite direction and to make our work abort. The first of them is Proust, who has written to me that, although he is giving to the fund, he does not want to take care of making the state accept this painting, because he considers it as a subpar work by Manet. Is it comical and silly enough? But I believe that artists have the duty to push this case. As for me, I will make everything to achieve our goal." In fine condition, with some bleeding to the text.

Edouard Manet’s painting 'Olympia,' an arrestingly bold nude of a reclining prostitute, immediately sparked controversy upon its unveiling at the 1865 Paris Salon. Later recognized as one of the artist’s true masterpieces, Monet spearheaded a public campaign to raise money for the French government to purchase the painting. Monet's letters on the subject—generally sent to those within his artistic circle—are highly coveted, and this example is dramatically enhanced by the identity of the recipient, Monet’s expression of utmost devotion to the fund in spite of adversity, and his discussion of the ranking of 'Olympia' among Manet’s works. By February 1890, Monet had raised about 20,000 francs to purchase the great work and announced its donation to the French national museums. As the law prevented the Louvre from exhibiting works until their creators were ten years deceased (Manet died in 1883), 'Olympia' was first shown at the Musée du Luxembourg, then at the Musée de l'Art Contemporary of Paris. By order of Georges Clemenceau, Olympia finally took its place in the Louvre in 1907.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts
  • Dates: #680 - Ended December 06, 2023





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