"I tempted destiny again by putting a bee in the mule's ear".

Deux lettres autographes inédites signées à Léonne Georges

207 x 268 mm

Two beautiful love letters

1 000 

1 in stock


TWO BEAUTIFUL LOVE LETTERS UNRELEASED from the symbolist painter Carlos Schwabe to the future Madame Paul Reboux.

Léonne (or Léona, or Léone) Georges, a miniature painter, worked with the goldsmith and jeweller Robert Linzeler and designed advertising fan decorations. In an early letter, Schwabe gave him some advice on the proportions of his figures:

O tell me, my charming and valiant artist, from whom I would have loved so much to take a small, tiny expression of art; would you allow me a word of advice, not because I see it that way, but because logically in beauty it must be that way to give more length to the human body, which always gives more beauty to the overall line.

I beg you (and please forgive this remark, which only stems from my ardent desire to see you make something very beautiful) to give a little less length to your figures (so that) there is more suppleness in the outer line, between the collar and the head, and thus your bodies will be more slender and necessarily more supple.

He adds that he regrets not always having a self-portrait of himself that resembles his "unforgettable Léonne" :

Ah, I confess, my adorable Léonne, that [if this portrait] had been a little of what I see in you, which is so ravishing, which has so much charm, I would have begged you, kissing your hands, to give it to me so that it would always be there, close to me, and on this subject, allow me too (and I must be allowed a lot since I love you so much) to beg you not to change the hairstyle you had on Monday last, for it adds to, it completes the ineffable beauty of your face.

And finally, he begged her to spend more time with him:

And why is it that I can only see you so rarely? I know that you have to work and I have so much more to do; but when the evening comes, I would be so happy, so deeply happy to see you for a few moments and to carry in my heart a little of everything that is you, like a flower.

In a second letter, Schwabe deploys all his romantic sensibilities to tell Léonne about his love. Disappointed by another woman, the painter had finally found the ideal in Léonne :

I thought I saw in her face that she had a pretty soul, but all I found was pettiness and mediocrity and, to top it all, the atrocious jealousy of knowing that I was higher than she was, and it was only for lack of means that I was able to build two houses. Her only virtue is that of the people.

I could often, not being married, have given myself to wealthy unions, but I preferred to remain in pain and wait for the fulfilment of my great and luminous dream, which was confirmed at the hour when I saw you for the first time. Since that hour, Léonne, all my thought, all that is me, has been able to live and act only in contemplation of all that is you, and from that moment I have adored you as Dante loved Beatrice.

As Léonne was poor and could not find work, Schwabe would have done everything in his power to help her:

When you needed to earn a living, and I couldn't do anything myself, I went to the workshops of embroidery, damask, fabric and wallpaper designers in the rue du Sentier to find work for you, and to do this I presented my drawings of flowers and ornamentation, but as I didn't know the techniques of the trade, I was turned down at every door.

Finally, unable to find anything, in one night, I resolved to make the large gesture that you know. That night, oh my Léonne, I experienced the cruellest, most unforgettable hours of my life; nothing can compare with such pain!

Although we don't know the nature of the "gesture" in question, we can assume that it had the effect of driving Leonne away from Schwabe. He plunged her into deep despair ("Since that day, my life has been a river of pain, and although I put all my bitter energy into compressing the wound, from which the blood trickled drop by drop in long tears, day by day I descended further into the valley of tears."Nothing could console him:

Although destiny sent me the Countess [probably Martine de Béarn, his patron from 1897 to 1899], and although she later encouraged me to climb the staircase to Paradise, I was unable to take advantage of this opportunity which was to lead me to glory through free production, because always between her and me stood your adorable memory and it was this, much more than the affair, which was only a pretext, that made me break up with her.

Schwabe maintains that he made several attempts on his life while travelling with friends in the high mountains of the Dauphiné:

At the Lac d'Argent, on the large rocks, seeing a large slippery slope, moistened by an ancient torrent and where the pieces of rock were barely balanced, I frantically pulled myself up onto it and made the rocking movement to move it and slide.

Michonis, Dominique and the ten guides came running, gesticulating, and the stone slid happily down the fatal slope, but alas, a few steps from the icy lake, it jumped up, caused by other small stones, making me lose my balance, and while it disappeared into oblivion, I lay among my friends, with only a damaged ankle.

From then on, Michonis never left me alone, he had guessed, and in every difficult passage had me tied to the guide but, even so, I still tempted fate by putting a bee in the ear of the mule I was riding.

The panicked beast galloped like hell over the little mound where we were, many times skimming over the edge, so that half our bodies were bent over the abyss, but always with its vigilant hoof it regained its footing and finally,
the others chasing us, we were stopped in our tracks.

On yet another occasion, crossing a torrent on the rocks, I suddenly made my animal slip on the smooth stone and it was only Dominique and his mule, who were walking alongside me, who lost their footing and fell into the water up to their necks, fortunately.


Six years passed before the painter saw Léonne again; this was probably the occasion for this new declaration:


I felt that I was going to see you again, and when this stranger told me your name, everything in me was startled, everything lit up like a starry night, and your appearance disturbed me so much, as you know, that my heart, despite my will, went up to my lips.

Ah, I know, I know Léonne, that few souls can soar so high, that few beings can love so magnificently and I believe and am convinced that this high sense comes from the fact that I am the fruit of the shock of a splendid love of an adorable mother and a great and valiant heart, Duke and Peer of England.

I love you with all the royal blood that flows in my veins, I love you with all the high flight of my soul, I love you with all my brain; I love you more than anything else in the world: I love you like the Art I wear because, like me, you radiate in me, you radiate in me with all the charm of what is you.

I love you for all eternity. Admittedly, I'm still very poor and if I weren't brave, I'd be a beggar! But my destiny will be fulfilled; one chance, just a little Sun on my path and I'll be able to realise the breath of my thoughts: I'll be able to climb the mountain of the gods and pluck the golden rose with which I'll adorn your hair.

However, Léonne Georges went on to marry the French writer and painter Paul Reboux.

Full transcript available on request.

In-4, Sheets,207 x 268 mm,9 pages on 9 leaves.

Black ink, one envelope preserved. Tears but not missing from the mailing folds.


Carlos Schwabe

Émile Martin Charles Schwabe

(Atona: 21 July 1866 - Avon: 22 January 1926)

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