The Collection

Home Page > Works > The discovery of the Musee Gustave Moreau...


Undated manuscript of a text by André Breton forming the preface for L'Art fantastique de Gustave Moreau published by Pauvert in December 1960.

This is a text inscribed in history, offered by Breton to Ragnar Van Holten as a preface to L'Art fantastique de Gustave Moreau published by Pauvert in December 1960. As the poet explains at the end of his preface, the essence of this letter had been written some ten years previously, looking back at the discovery of the Musée Gustave Moreau by a 16-year-old adolescent. 1912, 1950, 1960: this is a loyalty over nearly fifty years to a painter to whose release from purgatory Breton contributed, particularly by organising the exhibition of Symbolist drawings at the Bateau-Lavoir in 1958. [Atelier André Breton website, 2005]

Signed handwritten manuscript, undated.
- 5 in-4° pages of signed manuscript in ink by Breton, with deletions and corrections, some sections of which are copied out on the back of a sheet of paper that includes a reproduction of a drawing by Gorky.
‘My discovery, at the age of sixteen, of the Musée Gustave Moreau influenced for ever my idea of love. Beauty and love were first revealed to me there through the medium of a few faces, the poses of a few women. The particular ‘type’ of these women probably prevented me from recognizing any other […]. 

‘It is impossible to protest too strongly against such a manoeuvre, with its attempt to obscure behind the image of the educator the living reality of the great, solitary figure of the rue de La Rochefoucauld, the man who, apart from anything else, brought the power of evocation to its highest pitch; whose attitude both as an artist and as a thinker should be considered a model of dignity when viewed against today’s prevalent exhibitionism [...].’ [Auction catalogue, 2003]


André Breton (Édition publiée sous la direction d'Étienne-Alain Hubert avec la collaboration de Philippe Bernier et Marie-Claire Dumas), « Gustave Moreau », Le Surréalisme et la Peinture, Œuvres complètes, tome IV, Écrits sur l'art et autres textes, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, Gallimard, 2008, pages 785 à 789, notice p. 1371 à 1375


Creation datesd
Number of pages5 p.
Breton Auction, 2003Lot 2479
Keywords, ,
CategoriesManuscripts, Andre Breton's Manuscripts
Set[Breton's Manuscripts and Drawings] dossier Le Surréalisme et la peinture, [AB's Manuscripts] Manuscripts 1958-1966
Permanent link