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Lot #6010
Paul Gauguin Autograph Letter Signed from French Polynesia

"If you don't have a strong enough constitution to advance me some money, you had better tell me"—back in Tahiti, Gauguin looks to his benefactors for financial support

Estimate: $10000+

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Description

"If you don't have a strong enough constitution to advance me some money, you had better tell me"—back in Tahiti, Gauguin looks to his benefactors for financial support

ALS in French, one page, 7 x 9, no date (1898-1899). Handwritten letter to the French editor, author, and art dealer, Ambrose Vollard, penned by Gauguin during his second and final stay in Tahiti, presumably from his residence in Papeete. Gauguin begins by acknowledging receipt of 200 francs in Vollard's letter of October, adding with some irony (translated), “you think without being sure that you can send me 400 francs by the next mail.” Gauguin reminds Vollard that he had sent nothing in August and September, “which is a body-blow for me. The rainy season has started and in order not to sleep underwater I was obliged to have my entire hut re-roofed, so here I am with creditors to whom I had made promises and who think that I lied to them.” He is therefore forced to take on some accountancy jobs “which stupefy me. So you cause me some regrets that I did not deal with someone else. If you don't have a strong enough constitution to advance me some money, you had better tell me.” In fine condition, with trivial paper loss to the upper left corner tip.

Gauguin returned to Tahiti in September 1895 and was to spend the next six years living, for the most part, a comfortable life as an artist-colon near, or at times in, Papeete. During this time he was able to support himself with an increasingly steady stream of sales and the support of friends and well-wishers, a group of benefactors that included Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939). As this letter reveals, there was also a period in 1898–1899 when Gauguin felt compelled to take a desk job in Papeete, of which there is not much record; this could very well be the ‘stupefying’ accounting work to which Gauguin refers. After the death of Gauguin's Paris dealer, Georges Chaudet, in September 1899, the artist entered into a contract with Vollard, under which, in exchange for a regular monthly advance of 300 francs, the latter would make a guaranteed purchase of at least 25 paintings each year at 200 francs each and supply Gauguin with artist materials. The financial security of this arrangement enabled Gauguin to resettle in the Marquesas Islands in 1901.

Provenance: Sotheby's, November 26, 1980, Lot 193.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Art, Literature, and Classical Music
  • Dates: May 22, 2024 - June 20, 2024





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