Cover image for A century of artists' letters : notes to family, friends, and dealers : Delacroix to Léger
A century of artists' letters : notes to family, friends, and dealers : Delacroix to Léger
Simon, Jacqueline Albert.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Atglen, PA : Schiffer Pub., [2004]

Physical Description:
232 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 31 cm
General Note:
"From the Pierre F. Simon Collection at the New York Library."

Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6847 .S6 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



This personal and engaging book reproduces over 100 letters from the most famous 19th and 20th century painters in Paris between 1855 and 1968. Among the artists are Claude Monet, August Renoir, Edouard Manet, Pablo Picasso, and Mary Cassatt. With each letter is an exact transcription (all but two of the letters were originally written in French) and then an English translation. The text of the book explores each writers' relationships with the recipients and with other artists they mention, and a precise examination of each artists's place in the history of art. The artists write of their anxieties about work, health, finances, and their future plans. For example, Pierre Bonnard, at eighteen, writes a long letter to his father explaining why he has transferred from art school to law school. An anguished Emile Bernard describes to art critic Albert Aurier, as Paul Gauguin recounted it to him, the night Vincent vanGogh cut off his own ear. Also featured are a work of art by each artist and their portrait, self-portrait, or photograph. Additionally, each letter has been briefly analyzed by a graphologist (handwriting expert), providing another insight to the human side of great talent. The letters have been selected from the collection of Pierre F. Simon, which is now in the archives of the New York Public Library.

Author Notes

Jacqueline Albert Simon is U. S. Bureau Chief and Associate Editor of the French review, Politique Internationale.Lucy D. Rosenfeld is the author of nineteen books on art, architecture, and cultural history.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This impressive work illustrates the historical record left by letters, which can be regarded as relics of the past. Using their expertise (Simon is U.S. bureau chief and associate editor of the French review Politique Internationale, and Rosenfeld is the author of 19 books on art and cultural history), the authors analyze over 50 letters written by 40 of the most famous 19th- and 20th-century artists, including Renoir, Gauguin, Monet, and Picasso. Selected from a larger collection found in the New York Public Library archives and arranged by artist, the letters reveal many aspects of an artist's world (an especially poignant letter describes Van Gogh's ear cutting, for example). Each letter segment begins with an image of the original document, followed by a transcription of its contents and an English translation (all but two letters are in French). In each section, the letters precede any background information, thus allowing readers to make their own initial judgments about the letter or its writer. Portraits or photos of the artists and their artwork complement each section. Also included is a useful analysis from a handwriting expert. Highly recommended for academic libraries and larger public libraries that support art history and French disciplines.-Erica Swenson Danowitz, American Univ. Lib., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.