MONET TO BAZILLE
AN URGENT CRY FOR HELP, PENNED ONLY MONTHS AFTER MONET’S SON’S BIRTH AND HIS ATTEMPTED SUICIDE, BY DROWNING HIMSELF IN THE SEINE!
MONET, CLAUDE. (1840-1926). Founder, and leader in French Impressionist painting; the term: ‘Impressionism’ is derived from the title of his painting: Impression, Sunrise. An exceptional, and Important early Autograph Letter Signed, “Claude Monet,” in French. 3 full pages, large octavo. “Fecamp au Paout”, France. [August 6, 1868. To FREDERIC BAZILLE] whom he address as: “My dear friend”. FREDERIC BAZILLE (1841-1870). French painter, who was a benefactor and friend to many of the Impressionist painters, and most importantly, a very close friend to Claude Monet in the early years. He was an uninspired medical student in Paris, and after failing his exams, his parents allowed him to study painting. In Paris he met Monet and Renoir, with whom he worked; shared his studios with them [when they could not afford their own]; and travelled together as an entourage; He exhibited in the Salons of 1866 and 1868; his promising career was cut short when he was killed in the Franco-Prussian War, dying at the age of 28. Monet writes his closest friend and supporter of this early, formative period.
“My dear friend, It is decidedly sad that I cannot be more or less happy two days in a row. I was quite happy when I left Le Havre, and I expected to receive money from you on the 2nd or 3rd as usual and I would have arranged my little affairs accordingly, but now I find myself in quite the embarrassment. I thought I would only stay here for a day or two at the hotel and here I am already 6 [days] so that your 50F[ancs] would happen to me that I would not have enough to pay [the bill] at the hotel, and more stupid of all this is that I found here a small furnished little house very inexpensively and where I would already be without your delay. I do not know what to think, seeing each day pass without a letter from you. You should know what harm the slightest delay can cause me, though, so you would have sent this to me sooner than I could have moved into my home and still have money in front of me. So make sure you never keep me waiting, please. Besides that, I am no longer tormented, here is a sick baby in the hotel [his son, Jean Monet, born 8 August, 1867] and penniless…. All this makes me spend a hell of a lot of money and never being set up to work… I waste all my time. I sent you a dispatch to tell you to send me 100F please do so because otherwise I will not know what to do, and yet I would be so comfortably here to live cheaply and to work…it costs me [emotionally] to always harass you like this, but I assure you it is that I am forced because I start to be tired of always asking thus, but think of my position with a sick child and not the least resource”…
On the 4th page, BAZILLE has made an accounting of the money he has sent to Monet from May to October, totaling 360 Francs (including 100 F in August).
This letter is written at a critical period for Monet. His son, Jean, had been born a year earlier in August 1867. His art work was not yet recognized, and finances were extremely tight, as indicated in this letter. Shortly after Jean’s birth, pushed to desperation by his financial situation, Monet attempted suicide by drowning himself in the Seine River. It was with Bazille’s financial support that Monet was able to continue on his path to becoming the eventual leader of the Impressionist movement. Upon Bazille’s death, Monet was devastated yet again. The location from which this letter was written is also important to Monet’s body of work. It was here and the nearby Etretat, that he discovered the large seaside cliffs and famous sea arches, which he was to paint time and time again. An outstanding early letter with the very best of associations, from Monet’s artistic pen!