MANET Edouard (1832-1883)

Lot 22
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MANET Edouard (1832-1883)


L.A.S. "Edouard Manet", "aboard the Hanover and Guadeloupe" 15-22 December [1848], to HIS MOTHER; 7 pages in-8 on fine paper.
Beautiful and long letter, written at the age of sixteen, when he embarked on the training ship Hanover and Guadeloupe.
["The long voyage he made from Le Havre to Rio de Janeiro was not without influence on the training of his genius and was to inspire him later on to become one of the most beautiful marines of his time" (G. Huisman).].
Seasickness and bad weather delayed his letter. Manet then recounts his departure from Le Havre at the sound of the cannons; they "bid a noisy farewell to the people of Le Havre gathered in crowds on the jetty [...] The weather was magnificent, the sea very beautiful". Since that evening they have not seen any land. In the days that followed, "I was horribly sick with seasickness.
The weather then became dreadful; you can't imagine the sea when you haven't seen it stirred up as we have seen it, you don't get an idea of those mountains of water that surround you [...] what a monotonous life this seafaring life, always the sky and the water, always the same thing, it's stupid"... December 16th. The good weather has returned... "they're making us climb the ropes". They make them wash the beds, the post that was "an infection.
[...] I'm in the jiggers on the foremast [...] we're vigorously working on it".
December 17. Bad weather... "All these people are really amazing, they are always happy, always cheerful, despite the harshness of the job"... They drank champagne at dinner and toasted the commander, who is nice... The first mate "is a real brute, a sea wolf who holds you stiff and pushes you around nicely". In the evening after dinner, they sing "des cœurs des chansonnettes" on the poop deck...
December 18. Awful weather. They are on the Bay of Biscay.
The commander is having fun killing seabirds.
December 19th. Wonderful weather... "We're starting our classes today, it's going pretty well". They will soon arrive in Madeira where a rowboat will carry and pick up the mail... "perhaps we will then learn the name of our president; you may be quite agitated at the moment in Paris, as long as we don't have civil war, it's so awful"... The doctor put lines out to catch the tuna, which we bait with "a bottle well closed with a red cork"...
December 20. Bad weather. The bread is rationed, and Manet, who doesn't like sea biscuits... "for me I make canned bread, I chew it wherever I can find it and hide it in my hut"...
December 21st. Rain... "We didn't have math class this morning. The teacher is still seasick"... He gives his daily schedule... "at 6:00 a.m. ½. jerks down, everyone gets on the dune and we pass the officer of the watch inspection. at 8:00 a.m. first breakfast at 8:00 a.m. ½ study until 10:00 a.m. minus watch until 10:00 a.m. recess at 10:00 a.m. Port side goes to math class, (I'm on this side), at 11 a.m. ½ lunch at 11 a.m. ½ lunch, at 1 a.m. literature class for babordais, at 2.5 a.m. recess [...] at 3 a.m. English class for all students at 4 p.m. dinner; until 7 a.m. recess then study until 9 a.m. and 9 a.m. wank. Today Thursday we had a practice lesson in spite of the bad weather and spent the rest of the day in our station smoking, playing dominoes at the checkers etc."....
December 22nd. A building in sight incites him to close his letter. He hugs family and friends.
Letters from his youth. 1848-1849. Trip to Rio (Paris, 1928).
PROVENANCE Collection Daniel sicKLes (27-28 February 1979, n° 250)
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