Item #2530 Four Signed Letters [ALS/TLS] with Original Pencil Drawing, 1920–21. RENÉ MAGRITTE.
Four Signed Letters [ALS/TLS] with Original Pencil Drawing, 1920–21
Four Signed Letters [ALS/TLS] with Original Pencil Drawing, 1920–21
Four Signed Letters [ALS/TLS] with Original Pencil Drawing, 1920–21
Four Signed Letters [ALS/TLS] with Original Pencil Drawing, 1920–21

Four Signed Letters [ALS/TLS] with Original Pencil Drawing, 1920–21

“I do hope that your letter will announce your submission to material forces and the victory of your brain over your emotions—you will no doubt think that this is not the case with me, but regardless I very much believe that you can do it too and I do not doubt you for a moment…”

EARLY CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN MAGRITTE AND HIS GOOD FRIEND, PAINTER AND POET PIERRE-LOUIS FLOUQUET, WITH PERSONAL COMMENTS ON LIFE AND ART. WITH ORIGINAL PENCIL DRAWING BY MAGRITTE.

Having met at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, René Magritte (1898–1967) and Pierre-Louis Flouquet (1900–1967) shared a studio on the Rue de Alexiens and later exhibited together at the short-lived Centre d’Art founded in December 1919. In 1920, Flouquet undertook his military service in France, and Magritte would write regularly to keep up his friend’s morale. In 1927— having worked so closely as to render many of their works form this period indistinguishable—the two men grew somewhat apart, with Magritte turning sharply towards Surrealism while Flouquet moved towards figurative art. The present letters thus fill a gap in the important period of correspondence before his rift with Flouquet and his pivotal development of a Surrealist aesthetic.

Included with the four letters is a pencil sketch by Magritte depicting two girls with their backs to the viewer, both wearing hats. It seems probably that this pencil study is the only remaining trace of a larger work Magritte had envisaged but did not complete (Whitfield, p. 605). On 30 September 1921, he writes to Flouquet: “je vais commencer tantot un grand tableau auquel je pense depuis longtemps orgue de barbarie dans la rue avec femmes mouchoirs vermillion, vent qui la font aller, enfants qui dansent, dautres qui regardent, badauds, arbres, maisons, soleil!” [Soon I will start a large picture that I have been thinking of for a long time: a barrel organ in the street with women in vermillion head scarves, a blustering wind, dancing children, others looking on, bystanders, trees, houses, sun!] (Sylvester, pp. 28–29). The two girls could likely have been the spectators. Not only are both faces obscured, but the delineation of their covered heads is noticeably scarce—representing an early gesture towards what would later form major motifs in Magritte’s iconic style, as manifested in such masterpieces asNot to Be Reproduced (1937), The Son of Man (1946) and Décalcomanie (1966): simplicity, permanence and identity.

Provenance:
Pierre-Louis Flouquet; Estate of Pierre-Louis Flouquet, sold to private collection; public sale Antoine Jacobs, Brussels, 23 March 2013, Lots Nos. 151–53, from a private collection; Ronny Van de Velde, Antwerp.

References:
Sylvester, David (ed.), René Magritte: catalogue raisonné, 6 vols. (Antwerp: Mercatofonds, 1992–2012), I: Oil Paintings, 1916–1930, ed. David Sylvester and Sarah Whitfield (1992)
Whitfield, Sarah, “Unpublished Letters from René Magritte to Pierre Flouquet: 1920–21”, Burlington Magazine 155 (2013), 602–05

MAGRITTE, RENÉ. Four Signed Letters [ALS/TLS] with Original Pencil Drawing,
comprising:

1. Typed Letter Signed [TLS] to “Mon Vieux” and signed in ink “René”, 22 March 1920.
One page on one leaf (280 x 224 mm). Enumeration of 12 more or less comical recommendations and remarks, including: “7º Faire une toile épatante” [Make a stunning canvas], “8º Ma literature commence à me faire défaut” [My books are beginning to fail me”] and the final, twelfth item “18º Ecris moi de tes nouvelles le plus souvent possible” [Write to me with your news as soon as possible]. Usually folds, stain on extreme right edge not affecting text.

2. Typed Letter Signed [TLS] to “Cher Ami” and signed in ink “René”, 23 March 1920.
One page on half a leaf (140 x 214 mm). With date (“Mardi à 6h½” [Tuesday at 6:30]) and post-script in ink from Magritte. An instance of Magritte attempting to lift Flouquet’s spirits regarding his military service with words of encouragement, “je reçois ta deuxieme lettre qui me fait baeucoup de plaisir, mais vois-tu il faut être fort, accepter l’inévitable et cultiver ta volonté.” [I received your second letter which pleases me very much, but do you see it is necessary to be strong, accept the inevitable and marshal your willpower], and “je crois bien y arriver aussi et je ne doute pas un instant de toi” [I very much believe that you can do it too and I do not doubt you for a moment]. Centre fold, small tear at bottom margin not affecting text.

3. Typed Letter Signed [TLS] to “Cher Pierre” and signed in pencil “René”, 19 April 1920.
One page on one leaf (217 x 137 mm), on Magritte’s letterhead: “René Magritte | Artiste Peintre | Bruxelles, 37, R. de Potter.” Report from Magritte following his tonsillectomy, “L’operation est tres douloureuse mais les jours qui la suivent le sont encore plus” [The operation was very painful but the following day even more so]; and relates lurid anecdotes from a Cézanne biography he recently read (possibly Ambroise Vollard, Paul Cézanne (1919)), “Lors que Cézanne recevait un ami, ceux discutaient si fort que les pompiers et les flics de AIX., accouraient […] Quand pourons nous faire la meme chose?” [When Cézanne received a friend, they were debating so loudly that the Aix[-en-Provence] firefighters and cops came running up […] When can we do the same?]. Centre fold, otherwise fine.

4. Autograph Letter Signed [ALS] to “Cher Pierre” and signed “René”, 1921.
One page on one leaf (217 x 137 mm), on Magritte’s father’s letterhead: “L[éopold] Magritte | Industriel | Téléphone : BRUXELLES 92,28 | BRUXELLES, LE……1921 | 16, Avenue du Boulevard”. Update on goings-on in the Brussels art scene: “et pour que le Soir en a fait une critique comme celle que je t’envoi il faut vraiment que on soit fort” [for Le Soir to write a review like the one I am sending you, we need to be very strong]. Usual folds, two holes (hole punched?) on left margin not affecting text.

5. Deux fillettes, en robes, de dos, c. 1920.
Pencil on tracing paper, 190 x 145 mm. Signed with his cipher “MR”. Very mild creasing, otherwise fine.

Transcriptions with Translations:
Spelling and punctuation have been preserved.

1. TLS, 22 March 1920

Mon Vieu{deleted: x},

1º Il faut demander une permission de 15 jours Histoire de v’nir d’ballader par ici.
2º Ne pas trouver l’exercise dur s’il ne l’est pas.
3º A l’ambulance si leservice est dur.
4º Une Viole rurale surine en cefmoment “Le comte de Luxembourg”
5º Envoyer mes amitiés à C–Rampon
6º De la métode dans tout meme dous’qu’on s’emm[erde]
7º Faire une toile épatante;
8º Ma literature commence `à me faire défaut.
9º Nous sommes allé entendre SPELEAS ET MELISANDE ” avec Bourgeois; c’est ce que j’ai entendu DE PLUS BEAU. Mercredi à 7 H ½ j’y retourne pendant ce que tu t’amuseras a “jouer soldat”
10º Achête “L’action d’art” nº6 critique du salon des indépendants
11º Enfin tache d’inqulquer si possible des principes humains a tes pauvres compagnons et attention pas de blagues! (Conseils du DUBOIS)
18º Ecris moi de tes nouvelles le plus souvent que possible et Fixemoi un jour Ous’ quon pourrait sortir avec ou sans Rampon à Cambrai.
Salut in de chambre à coucher
{ink: René}
__________________________

[My old friend,

Nº 1 It is necessary to request permission in order to come and stroll around here.
Nº 2 Do not find the exercise difficult if it is not.
Nº 3 To the ambulance if the service is hard.
Nº 4 A rural [viola/assault] currently [plays/strikes] “The count of Luxembourg”
Nº 5 To send my regards to C. Rampon
Nº 6 On the method in all cases [?even where we are bored]
Nº 7 Make a stunning canvas
Nº 8 My books are beginning to fail me.
Nº 9 We went to listen to SPELEAS AND MELISANDE [Pelléas and Melisandre] together with [Pierre] Bourgeois: it is the MOST BEAUTIFUL I have heard. Wednesday at 7:30 I will return there while you enjoy “playing soldier”
Nº 10 Buy “L’action d’art” nº6 critic of the Salon of Independents
Nº 11 Finally try to install humane principals in your poor companions if possible and pay no attention to jokes! (Advice from DUBOIS)
Nº 18 Write to me as soon as possible with your news and fix me a date when we could go out with or without Rampon to Cambrai.
Hello in the bedroom,
René]

2. TLS, 23 March 1920

{ink: Mardi à 6h½ –}

Cher ami,
je reçois ta deuxieme lettre qui me fait baeucoup de plaisir, mais vois-tu il faut être fort, accepter l’inévitable et cultiver ta volonté.
J’espére bien que ta lettre m’annoncera ta soumission aux forces matérielles et la victoire de ton cerveau sur tes sentiments”tu penseras sans doute que c{deleted: ‘es}e n’est pas mon cas, mais qu’importe je crois bien y arriver aussi {deleted: c}et je ne doute pas un instant de toi.
La dactylographe de chez Declerq t’envoit ses pensées amicales.
Je t’enverrai le chevalet lundi prochain, il est actuellement chez mon client et ne peut le déranger avant lundi.
Compliments imbéciles à ton charcutier et ton dessin ateur debruxelles.
et pour toi la plus jolie pen…sée!
{ink: René
– En attendant un portrait qui me fait défaut actuellement voici un autre!}
__________________________

[Dear friend,
I received your second letter which please me very much, but do you see it is necessary to be strong, accept the inevitable and marshal your willpower.
I do hope that your letter will announce your submission to material forces and the victory of your brain over your emotions—you will no doubt think that this is not the case with me, but regardless I very much believe that you can do it too and I do not doubt you for a moment.
The typist at Declerq’s office sends you her regards.
I will send you the easel next Monday, it is currently at my client’s and can’t disturb him before Monday.
Imbecile compliments to your butcher and your designed in Brussels.
and for you the best regard!
René
– While waiting for a portrait that I am currently missing, here is another one!]


3. TLS, 19 April 1920

{Letterhead: René Magritte Bruxelles, 37, R. de Potter.
Artiste Peintre}
Vendredi,

Cher Pierre,
j’ai ete opéré vendredi dernier et voila aujourd’hui seulement qu’il m’est possible de t’écrire avec calme et dignité!
L’operation est tres douloureuse mais les jours qui la suivent le sont encore plus, mais enfin je suis débarasse des ces amidales em[merdantes]
Hier je lisais la vie de Cezanne; et lorseque un bourgeois qu'il haissait entre pharanthese, lui demandait avec quoi il peignait ses fonds, Cezannes répondait: “Avec de la M[erde].” Lors que Cézanne recevait un ami, ceux discutaient si fort que les pompiers et les flics de AIX., accouraient les croyant au feu, alors que c’etait une fumée de pipe qui s’échapait de la fenétre, les autres à un assassinat, tellement il gueul,.
Quand pourons nous faire la meme chose?
Esperons que ce seras bientot;
Et tu buches ty? J’ai recu ta letter avec croquis lieutenante qui me parrait bien.
Le centre d’art est creve{deleted: r} depuis 2 ou 3 semaines, je ne crois pas te l’avoir dis?
Je t’écrirai desormais tous les vendredis!
Mes meilleurs amitiés
{pencil: René}
__________________________

Dear Pierre,
I was operated on last Friday and it is only today that I can write to you with peace and dignity!
The operation was very painful but the following day even more so, but I am finally rid of those bothersome friends.
Yesterday I was reading the life of Cézanne; and when a bourgeois whom he hated between parentheses, asked him what he painted his backgrounds with, Cézanne replied: “With S[hit].” When Cézanne received a friend, they were debating so loudly that the Aix[-en-Provence] firefighters and cops came running up, thinking there were a fire, when it was only pipe smoke escaping from the window, the others an assassination, he was shouting so much.
When can we do the same?
Hopefully it will be soon;
And are you drinking there? I received your letter with the lieutenant sketch which looks good to me.
The Centre d’Art has been dead for 2 or 3 weeks, I don’t think I’ve told you?
From now on I’ll write to you every Friday!
My best wishes,
René

4. ALS, 1921

{Letterhead: L. Magritte
Industriel BRUXELLES, LE………………1921.
Téléphone : BRUXELLES 92,28 16, Avenue du Boulevard}
jeudi,

Cher Pierre,
Bourgeois à donné une conference Mardi, et pour que le Soir en a fait une critique comme celle que je t’envoi il faut vraiment que on soit fort.
Et c’etait tres bien en effet.
J’espere bientot te voir et à part ça comment ça va?
René
__________________________

[Dear Pierre,

[Pierre] Bourgeois have a conference on Tuesday, and for Le Soir to write a review like the one I am sending you, we need to be very strong.
And it was very good indeed.
I hope to see you soon and apart from that how are you?
René].

Price: $20,000 .

See all items by