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Writing about “the Agony of True Artists” and Mentioning Ingres and Picasso

$595 net
Item: 23001
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SAINT-SAENS, CAMILLE. (1835-1921). French composer and organist. ALS. (“C. Saint-Saens”). 2pp. 4to. N.p., May 23, 1921. Written on both sides of a sheet of writing paper blind-embossed with the composer’s initials, “CSS.” In French with translation.

“As for me, my dear great painter, it is my opinion that 5 + 1 francs are not too much to learn that you are an ‘unwitting musician.’

You are pursuing an ideal which you will never attain. Who are you saying this to? I have started to write again, and what I am doing seems to me, as usual, so far from what I would like to be doing. That is the agony of true artists. Ah, you wanted to be more than everyone else, you wanted to create, to attain the prize at the top of the greasy pole! You will never reach it.

This is the punishment for our pride but let us console ourselves! Those who are always content with themselves never go far. ‘…….The frustration of the human soul is the eternal martyrdom, and of its foolish pride their eternal punishment.’

So, a long time since, said a musician who is very fond of you, and your works, and who, at that time, not making music, distracted himself by writing verse.

Only, instead ‘of the human soul,’ he should have said, ‘the artist’s soul,’ because most mortals are content with very little, ideally.

Have a look in today’s Le Matin at the comparison between two portraits, one by Ingres and the other by. Mr. Picasso!

And in music it is the same thing! But, as the public cannot read music, we cannot show it to them.

What painter will need to be honored at the Academy?…”


Camille Saint-Saens

While entertaining Parisians with his spectacular organ performances, Saint-Saëns also taught and composed such justifiably famous pieces as the Danse Macabre¸ Carnival of the Animals, and the Symphony No. 3. With an output exceeding 300 compositions, Saint-Saëns was among the first composers to write a motion picture score – the Assassination of the Duke of Guise in 1908. Saint-Saens continued to compose and perform until his death in December 1921.

Our melancholy, yet wise letter was written during the last months of Saint-Saëns’ life and quotes the closing lines of his 1890 poetry collection Rimes familières: “Le Pays merveilleux:” “l’inassouvissement / De l’âme des humains est l’éternel martyre, / Et de leur fol orgueil l’éternel châtiment.” In addition to publishing under his own name, Saint-Saens also wrote several travel books under his nom-de-plume, Sannois.

While encouraging his unnamed artist friend, Saint-Saëns refers to an article in Le Matin which compares the works of French neoclassical painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), known for such iconic works as Napoleon I on his Imperial Throne, and contemporary Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), remembered as the co-founder of Cubism.

Folded into quarters with light wear and pin holes in the left margin; in fine condition.

Writing about “the Agony of True Artists” and Mentioning Ingres and Picasso

$595 net • item #23001

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