Madame Gloanec. Autograph Letter Signed. 2pp.In French. To Arthur [Wesley] Dow, Hotel de L’Univers et du Portugal. Paris. With original mailing envelope, addressed by Gloanec, whose modest pension in a rustic country village of Brittany would host one of the most famous French artist colonies of the late 19th century.
In response to Dow’s letter, Madame was pleased to tell the young American from Massachusetts that the Atelier was entirely at his disposal. An apartment previously occupied by “Harrisons” [American painter T. Alexander Harrison, future friend of Marcel Proust] was available; he had left without warning so she felt free to dispose of the studio as she pleased, and she apparently considered the 29 year-old Dow, a guest at her inn the previous summer, something of an old friend. Dow would arrive at chez Gloanec, 350 miles from his Paris pied-a-terre, in early June. Weeks later, he would be joined there by a Pont Aven newcomer, 38 year-old Paul Gauguin.
Later influential in the American Arts and Crafts movement, Dow was not drawn to the revolutionary Gauguin, who, before his Tahiti years, would become central figure of the “Pont Aven School” of post-Impressionist French painters. A woman in her late 40s, “Mother Gloanec”, as she was warmly known to the young artists who flocked to her inexpensive pension, would play indulgent host to the prickly Gauguin and his combative friends. In return, he would give her artistic immortality by painting a still-life, “Fete Gloanec”, which he presented to her as a birthday present. Ironically, because of his social conflicts, in order to display the painting on the wall of the Inn without arousing the rancor of his bitter critics, the painting was signed as a subterfuge by the attractive sister of his friend, Emile Bernard.
Autograph Letters by Madame Gloanec are very rare – we could locate none held by any American institution or sold at auction in recent decades. Gauguin’s own letters are, of course, treasures that fetch up to $100,000 on the antiquarian market.