Before coming to this country I have only once sold one of my pictures myself. This is a most delightful souvenir and it happened like that: I was working in my study, avenue de Versailles, Marie had just arrived from Vienna, it must have been around Xmas. The bell rings and Fernande announces Mr. et Mme Dupuis from Casablanca. I dont know Mr et Mme Dupuis from Casablanca and I dont want to know them. People who want to see artists must respect their time, must ask for an appointment by telephone, cant drop in like that. All this is said impatiently to the impasssible Fernande who answers "Quecheque je vais dire Madame?" - "Dites-leur de téléphoner et je leur fixerai un jour et une heure." Here Marie intervenes. "Do see them, now that they are here, like that you get it over quickly, who knows what it is about". I see that she is right and I let them been shown in. Here is a very French couple, middleclass, middleagged and unattractive to look at, she especially. I am beginning the conversation and hear that he is a doctor, and the minute they talk, they seem agrrable to talk to and have an attractive atmosphere. " Could we see your Drawings and Paintings?"
"Yes, of course", and while I am taking them upstairs to the exhibition room with the Terraces I reflect that it would not be bad, if I sold something. Just touday I had that my household was short of money, alltought nobody ever let me know anything like that. It was more the state of things that seemed a bit dried up, the quality of the fruit that had been served for lunch - We are now in front of my Pictures and I am as usual silent and a bit ashamed. They are enchanted, and I am invaded by a dark wave of happiness - I know that they have the right feeling for my work, of deep keens manship, understanding affection of compassionate humanity. They look at every one of my paintings, carefully and silently and I stand there silent too. I hate painters, who talk in front of their paintings, its so shameless. I stand there and delibarate. I ought to say something encouraging about un achat. How shall I ever get it out! I try - I cant. - I reflect. Shall I say: "Avez-vous l'intention d'acheter quelque chose?" or shall I say: "Voudriez-vous peut-être acheter un dessin?" Both seem unpleasant, especially when I think how agrable their presence is to my pictures and to myself. But then I think of that charming household of mine
and about those little signs of financial difficulty and also of around the Madeleine the lovely shops full of fascinating things. Then, like throwing myself into the water or swallowong a pill I have showed around in my mouth for some time, it suddenly slips out of my mouth "Voulez-vous acheter quelque chose?" - "Oui, deux tableaux pour notre maison. Nous n'avons aucun tableau."
I get a bit faint, it sounded so lovely, it had all been so easy, so simple, they had hust waitd for that question. A little later I have a bunch of many thousand franc notes that I throw high up into the air and they all flutter down around me and have now settled on the parquet. Giuseppe has cole home at this minute and I get many compliments for my heroism.
Welle this was the first and only time in Paris. I never could say a price myself, it seemed impudique, I just could'nt ça me gène, ça me dérange, ça m'embarasse.
Well, I have had to make up my mind to do it here and be quite brazen, decided, and unflinching about it.
The other day came Mr. et Mme. Loewenberg du "Plaza Hotel", comme ils s'annoncent. They use the Plaza Hotel as an attribute. Loewenberg ist pronounced à la Française: Leuvenbère. Madame parle mal le Français, et Monsieur
ne le parle pas du tout. They want to buy a Madonas, probably because Madame expects a baby. She speaks such revolting French, with a Berlin dialect, that I decide to talk German with them. They look at my humble and innocent Madonas, and Madame finds anather flatterind and enthousiastic word for each of them.Monsieur does not let himself go, afraid it could highten the price. Lets be unmoved, scarce of compliments - genre connaisseur. She has already laid aside 3 different drawings when he asks to see paitings . Large or small ones? Smallish ones. I get out paintings of last year and others done in Paris, in England, some well remembered, firmly attached to my heart and memory, others a pleasant surprise, others also an unpleasant one. --
They decide on a small Madonas, who has a concentrated expression in her eyes, one of those faces one should like to live with, not because of beauty, it is the inside that seems so lovable to me. "What is the price of that one?" - "500 pesos".
When they come back the third time
Herr Loeawenberg Monsieur Leuvenbère says, that he was not prepared to pay that much for a small draing. Not that he underestimates my qualities and renown, but that he thought it was less, and could I not make a small discount,
I am so embarrased about that kind of talk I say, all right, 450 pesos. To that he quicly says 400 pesos, but I say no, 450, as I have already said.
After the third visit to may studio (I have got so little time) they decide on that one. Herr Loewenberg comes alone to to his butchering unattended
would on give them my help for the framing and allthough it takes up precious time, I like to know that my picture is in a dignified attire, and here it is prepared in a white sculptured frame, very simple and looks lovely to me. Herr Loewenberg approaches reluctantly looks at it on the easle, is silent, looks again, approaches it quite near and now scratches on the glass. What is that? I dont know and I dont care and I dont look. He goes on scratching and says "now it is gone." But the frame? It is different of the one he saw, he says it is thicker, it has another finish. No, it is the same on. I remark, that I am not a frame-shop, that painters as a rule, dont occupy themselves to frame the things people luy and that he must for that consult the frmeshop. He has not mentioned qhat is under the glass, inside the frame. But now he asks, "what is the orice? - "I told you: 450.." - "No, you said 400". Now I fell awfully
ashamed for him. I look at him and imagine this fat redfaced man in his fine clothes, wild leather shoes and gold cigarette case in the concentration camp he ought to think of. It is he and all the others of his sort, who have made the world what it is. How is it that it has not taught him a lesson of humility, homesty, decency - nothing at all - he is the rich man of the bible, sure of himself and of his awful money - superior to everything, nothing can touch him, nothing can change his abominable outlook on others, on life.
Only he counts, he and his litter.
Ces pages de souvenir reconstitués ne sont pas datées. Marie Stiasny l'amie d'enfance avait été accueillie par Mariette à Paris en 1927, l'info était adressée dans une lettre à Bontempelli et Giuseppe Govone son futur mari est bien l'Italien dont elle parlait dans ces lettres. Cette petite histoire est probablement frappée entre 1941 et 1944, car à partir de de 1945 c'est Rachel Abrisqueta qui s'occupera des négociations, comme pour l'Europe Carmen Jaubert l'a fait à partir des années 30.