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Manuscripts and documents of Jean François Raffaëlli, 1878-1914.

Author: Jean François RaffaëlliJuliette AdamLéonce BénéditePaterne BerrichonPaul Albert BesnardAll authors
Edition/Format:   Archival material : French
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
The collection comprises ca. 1150 leaves of original manuscripts and ca. 220 leaves of correspondence in photocopies. The latter are letters received between the late 1870s and 1914, along with fifteen copies of personal and family documents. Also included are ten drafts of letters Raffaëlli wrote in the same period. The collection of manuscripts comprises writings about most contemporary issues, from arts to
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Genre/Form: Speeches
Lectures
History
Named Person: Alphonse Daudet; Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier; James McNeill Whistler; Alphonse Daudet; Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier; James McNeill Whistler
Document Type: Archival Material
All Authors / Contributors: Jean François Raffaëlli; Juliette Adam; Léonce Bénédite; Paterne Berrichon; Paul Albert Besnard; Eugène Bourgeois; Paul Bourget; Félix Bracquemond; Jules Chéret; Georges Clemenceau; Alphonse Daudet; Ernest-Ange Duez; Edmond de Goncourt; Jean-Jacques Henner; Henri-Gabriel Ibels; Eugene Antoine Samuel Lavieille; Pierre Ernest Levallois; Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier; Alexandre Millerand; Claude Monet; Pierre Puvis de Chavannes; Jean Richepin; Alfred Philippe Roll; Théophile Alexandre Steinlen; Alexandra Thaulow; Charles Albert Waltner; Adolphe Willette
OCLC Number: 82218580
Description: ca. 1 linear ft.(3 boxes)

Abstract:

The collection comprises ca. 1150 leaves of original manuscripts and ca. 220 leaves of correspondence in photocopies. The latter are letters received between the late 1870s and 1914, along with fifteen copies of personal and family documents. Also included are ten drafts of letters Raffaëlli wrote in the same period. The collection of manuscripts comprises writings about most contemporary issues, from arts to philosophy, politics and sociology, including essays, speeches, literary texts, lectures and an unfinished treatise. Except for two typed copies of a lecture in English translation, all the texts are handwritten and, although heavily edited, are often signed or initialled. Raffaëlli's manuscripts reflect numerous ideas typical of the last quarter of the 19th century in France, such as the necessity of modernizing the schools' programs as well as the Jury and exhibition criteria for promoting the modern art; the role of women in society; the "Jewish question" in the context of the Dreyfus affair; the consequences of industrialization; the "péril jaune" and the danger of German invasions and the United States of Europe. The typical "isms" of the last half of 19th century - Naturalism, Impressionism, Positivism, Realism - and Barrès' cult of the self are eloquently illustrated in Raffaëlli's largely unpublished writings.

I. Writings about art (20 manuscripts). The longest text (185 p.) consists of five chapters of the treatise "Philosophie de l'art moderne," an eclectic sweep through all branches of modern arts, sciences, and humanities in an attempt to establish a new approach to artistic creation, in which Raffaëlli introduces the concept of "caractérisme." The last chapter is dedicated to music, "l'art suprême à notre époque." Four articles (some published) document his technical "révolution dans la peinture à l'huile" which substituted crayons made of solid oil paint for brushes and palette. The new colors were presented in 1902 at exhibitions organized in several European capitals, of painters who had used them. Raffaëlli's technical contributions to the revival of original color printmaking is also documented in a speech to the members of the new Société de l'Estampe Originale en couleurs. Two signed manuscripts analyze the art of Whistler and Meissonier. The final sentence of the first is "On ne peut admirer complètement M. Whistler qu'après le troisième verre d'absinthe." For Meissonier Raffäelli uses a smart dosage of praise and criticism to underline the mediocrity of the painter who, as the president of the Société nationale des beaux-arts, had deprived the author of a gold medal in 1890. A rebellious speech about that Société, along with three other manuscripts criticizing the criteria of acceptance and

reward of paintings in exhibitions, present the reforms advocated by the author for promoting the true art in France. Other manuscripts are incursions in art and religion, painting and literature, the artist and his profession and Raphäelli's opinion about the questionable originality of women in art.

II. Sociopolitical writings (12 manuscripts). This small group of rather short texts (half of them signed) reflects the spectacular evolution of Raffaëlli's ideas from traditional and rather pessimistic, to modern and positive. His initial reaction to the rapid industrialization of neighboring countries (dangerous and "absurde") is to defend France's agricultural economy through taxation, import duties and rapid sale of its colonies to the highest bidder. Later he becomes critical of the French inertia in the face of the international revolution of communication and transportation. He sounds the alarm: "Il nous faut des hommes d'action et nous ne fabriquons que des mandarins et des ronds-de-cuir!" A new attitude appears in Raffäelli's conception about woman's role in society. He is impressed with the American women, active, intelligent, educated, free and interested in art. A recurrent topic in most of his writings is education. He advocates the study of nature through art to train a creative mind in any profession. Thus everyone can become an artist through their activities. "Le bonheur de vivre c'est de se reproduire. Nous nous reproduisons par le travail et dans le travail."

III. Literary writings (17 manuscripts). Raffaëlli wrote a biography of his friend and promoter, "Alphonse Daudet dans l'intimité," creating a pleasant portrait of the writer, interspersed with autobiographic recollections (published). He also wrote an eulogy for Edmond de Goncourt, another promoter of his career. The other manuscripts in this group are a series of monologues, dialogues and a story, all under the generic title of "Etudes littéraires"; a few short stories; a poetic description of Avenue Marigny in spring (signed); a series of short "Notes d'Artiste," possibly for a magazine column, and a collection of "Pensées quelquonques," seemingly to be published in a brochure. Another collection in the same genre called "Idées d'art. Pensées écrites en omnibus," is scribbled in pencil on random bits of paper for later use. There are two incomplete texts: "La photographie est-elle un art?" and "Le geste au théâtre." Two short essays about "Gourmandise" and "Les belles chansons" reveal some of Raffaëlli's treats for his soul.

IV. Documents and correspondence (ca. 220 pp. photocopies). The 15 personal documents include the nomination of Raffaëlli as Chevalier de la Légion d'honeur in 1888; his contract with the editor Richardin for the publication of the book "Mes promenades au Musée du Louvre", signed in 1911; and the sale contract of 235 engraving proofs to the Estampe Moderne shortly after the artist's death in 1924. The ca. 200 pages of correspondence are mostly letters received from artists, writers and friends, such as Juliette Adam, Léonce Bénédite, Paterne Berrichon, P. Besnard, Bracquemond, Jules Chéret, Clemenceau, Alphonse Daudet, E. Duez, Edmond de Goncourt, Jean-Jacques Henner, H. Ibels, E. Lavieille, Meissonier, Millerand, Monet, Puvis de Chavannes, Richepin, A. Roll, Alexandra Thaulow (second wife of the Norwegian painter Frits Thaulow), Steinlen and Willette. There are ten drafts of Raffaëlli's letters, some of which have relevant biographical information: to the Art magazine, accepting their invitation to publish some of his writings after his short military duty; and to a friend who has one of his "Morceaux littéraires" of the Journal d'Eau forte "Le Jour, la Nuit", whose cost proves so painful that "j'ai bien peur pour sa vie...avant qu'il ait vécu" (it was never published).

V. American writings (18 manuscripts). In 1895 Raffaëlli was invited by the American Art Association for one week to the opening of an exhibition of his works at Durand Ruel in New York, and to give some lectures about art. His resounding success led to a five month tour to Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Montreal. During the tour he prepared inaugural speeches for each city and variants of the introduction to his lectures "Voyage à travers l'art de tous les ages" and "Impressionism." Both lectures have translations into English. Another group of writings and speeches are his impressions about America, reshaped in their final stages into "Impressions d'un Impressioniste en Amérique." Raffaëlli's first intention was to publish a book under this title in the U.S., with short descriptions and stories illustrated with drawings. He prepared a detailed draft of a contract accompanied by an eight page mock-up with original texts and illustrations. Another attempt was to publish a book of his impressions in France. It ended up as a series of articles published after his return in the Parisian review Journal, most probably based on the 71 page signed manuscript in this collection. Raffaëlli's impressions go from amazement to enthusiasm in a gradual understanding of the differences. The French save money for retirement; "un Américain ne se retire jamais...ici on aime l'argent comme une arme de guerre, ou comme un signe de puissance, ou comme un appoint de jeu." The impact of American culture is obvious in the later writings. In 1899 he was invited as a member of the Jury at the International Exhibition of Pittsburgh. In the opening speech of his own exhibition he announced that he had abandoned his theory of "caractérisme" and changed most of his views of the world, embracing a self-confident optimism. He confesses in a letter: "C'est mon dernier voyage en Amérique qui eut cette heureuse influence sur moi." (cited in L. Puech, Le Figaro, 27 May, 1896.)

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